February 5th, 2020 – Friday Evening
“Ascribe to the LORD, you families of the peoples,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name;
Bring an offering and come into His courtyards.
Worship the Lord in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.” ~Psalm 96:7-9
The word “ascribe” in this passage can also be translated “give”, but “ascribe” may have the specific connotation of glory. For instance, we might use the word to ascribe majesty and fame to Queen Elizabeth or give honor and glory to a great hero. (These are, of course, unfit comparisons to the LORD God Almighty, but they are examples of the use of the word nonetheless.) In our passage today, this word is used three times in conjunction with “to the LORD”; as you may know, Scripture often repeats important things more than once. The triplicate used here should cause us to pause in wonder.
Let us briefly review who the LORD is: When the word “lord” is capitalized in Scripture (like this: “Lord”), it is typically referring to God, but it is not His proper name. When the word “lord” is all caps (like this: LORD), it is the proper name of the Triune God. LORD stands for YHWH (pronounced Jehovah or Yah-weh) which means “the existing One” or “the Self-Existent”. It hearkens to Exodus 3:14 where God identified Himself as “I AM WHO I AM”. (I mentioned the Triune God above because while this has always been God’s name and God has always existed eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Jesus also claimed this name when He said in John 8:58 that “before Abraham was, I AM.”) The existing One is unchanging and immortal; He had no beginning and He has no end; He lives and reigns forever and ever as the only true God and Sovereign; no one else is self-existing and no one else can claim to be eternally immutable.
Jumping back to Psalm 96, the Psalmist commands that praise and glory should rightly be ascribed to the LORD and that it should be ascribed in the right way. This applies to all peoples and it involves humbling oneself and having a submissive heart; coming into His presence entails an offering and to worship Him one must come in holiness. The fear of Him leads to life and righteousness, while a disregarding of His nature leads to destruction. For believers, all three of these aspects are to be constantly sharpened as we abide in Christ (our Redeemer and Righteousness); we are now to be living and holy offerings who can rightly worship the LORD with godly reverence (fear). This is our purpose in life and death.
Reviewing or digging into the nature of God and giving Him verbal praise is part of the way that we fulfill that purpose; living holy lives that are filled with His grace is another part. Doing the first often helps the second come naturally because it is impossible for us to truly look at God and not be changed internally; this, in turn, will lead to the external change as well.
Is it time for a heart check and an attitude adjustment? How about spending some time looking at God and ascribing to Him the glory due to His name? It might seem very basic and a less-than-grandiose means of fulfilling the purpose God has for each of us, but it is what we have been created for and it will lead us to humility, awe, and deep transformation.