In the previous article, we began a short study of Psalm 3, the sorrowful but faith-filled song written by King David in response to one of the most trying times in his life. I encourage you to read that article as well as 2 Samuel 11-18 to better understand the background and the context that inspired David to write this psalm.
In this article, I want to return to Psalm 3 and continue to understand how David demonstrated that his faith in the sovereignty God was a living and a practical faith, this time putting emphasis on the particular section in verse 3 where David says to God, “You are my glory.”
Glory is one of those Bible words that we use loosely without being able to explain it or that we simply take for granted and pass over without stopping to study its meaning.
What does the Bible means when it refers to the “glory of God”?
Glory as Weight
The Bible tells us that Absalom was exceptionally handsome – the most handsome man in all Israel. Absalom’s crowning glory was his hair, and he would cut it once a year, and then only because it became so heavy. The Bible says that when he cut his hair, it was found to weigh somewhere around five pounds.
The significant thing here is that Absalom’s hair – his glory – had weight. That is interesting, because the word translated “glory” derives from a word that can mean heavy or weighty, and refers to the weight of one’s authority and power.
What Absalom failed to confess was that neither his looks nor his locks were of his own making.
Absalom found glory in his looks and his locks, but what Absalom failed to confess was that neither his looks nor his locks were of his own making.
In other words, Absalom did not have beautiful looks and beautiful hair because of anything he had done. He was beautiful by the design of God. Absalom worshiped himself and his own glory as opposed to the glory of God, a sin avoided by his father, David.
Remember that, as David fled over the Mount of Olives, he had surrendered all of his own pride and glory.
David’s reference to God as his shield proves that David knew that he had no defense against the evil that threatened to kill him and his family.
His reference to God’s glory proves that whatever glory might have attached itself to David did not originate in David, but with God.
David realized that God’s people are gifted with the glory of God not by their own merit, but by the work and the grace of God.
David realized that God’s people are gifted with the glory of God not by their own merit, but by the work and the grace of God. And so he would write…
Psalms 62:7 On God rests my salvation and my glory…
In these two words in Psalm 3:3, “my glory,” David confessed that God was Sovereign over all things in heaven and earth, and that God had the authority and power to rule over him, his family, and the events of his life.
Glory as Light
In other biblical examples, we know that we might think of the glory of God in terms of light – an exceedingly bright and blinding light.
In Luke 2:9, when the shepherds encountered the angel announcing the birth of Christ, the “glory of the Lord” surrounded the angel and the shepherds – a light so bright that the shepherds were nearly frightened to death until the angel spoke to calm them down.
In Acts 22:11, Saul of Tarsus (later the Apostle Paul) was struck down by a light that actually did blind him as he encountered the glory of the risen Christ.
In Revelation 21:22-23, the Apostle John had a vision of the New Jerusalem where he saw that there was no need for sun or moon, because the glory of God provides the light.
So we are right in thinking of the glory of God in terms of an awesome weight and as brilliant light.
Glory as Revelation
John Piper explained that there is a direct relationship between the holiness of God and the glory of God. He defines the holiness of God as “the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God.”
Nothing about God can be improved or imitated or compared. He is holy.
The word “holy” means to be separate and distinct. In part, this means that there is nothing in all of creation that could ever be like God. He is absolutely unique in His existence and unique in His person and unique in His power. Nothing about God can be improved or imitated or compared.
He is holy.
Piper then defined the glory of God as the “public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God.” Another way of saying this is that the glory of God we see in Creation reveals God’s holiness.
He demonstrates the relationship between glory and holiness by reminding us of Isaiah’s vision in the Temple recorded in Isaiah 6.
Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (ESV)
Now you might think that, since the angels are repeating over and over that God is holy, they are going to say the earth is full of his holiness.
Instead, they sing, “…the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Because God is holy, His glory fills the whole earth.
So, as John Piper explains, the glory of God makes manifest or reveals the holiness of God.
That is why David would later write in…
Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Now let me close by sharing two thoughts concerning the glory of God.
First of all, David knew that he had been gifted with the glory that belonged exclusively to God. The same is true of those who know Christ as Savior. There are many Scriptures that demonstrate this point, but I will mention just one from Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17.
John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only…
(I am not praying only for these men – these disciples – here with me today)
…but also for those who will believe in me through their word…
(That refers to us today who have the knowledge of Christ because of the faithfulness of those original disciples)
21 that they…
(referring to Christians in the 21st Century)
…may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one… (ESV)
There is a direct relationship between the security of the believer in salvation, the unity of God’s church, her success in missions, and the gift of the glory of God bestowed on those who are in Christ.
Therefore, there is a direct relationship between the security of the believer in salvation, the unity of God’s church, her success in missions, and the gift of the glory of God bestowed on those who are in Christ.
We demonstrate our possession of the glory of God by our obedience to God. Let me give you a negative example to demonstrate this.
We demonstrate our possession of the glory of God by our obedience to God.
As the people of Israel wandered through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, they reached a point where they were desperate for water.
Once before when this happened, God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff. When he did, water came gushing out, forming a river of water to satisfy the thirst of a million people and their animals.
On this second occasion, at a place called Meribah, God commanded Moses not to strike the rock, but to speak to the rock.
Moses, angry with the people, figured that since this is the way things had been done in the past, he would just continue the tradition and strike the rock.
Sure enough, when he struck the rock, water came gushing out of the rock just as it had before.
However, God immediately pronounced a judgment against Moses and Aaron.
Numbers 20:12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me…
(Personal disobedience is evidence of unbelief)
…to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel…
(Personal disobedience demeans the holiness of God to others)
therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”
(Personal disobedience results in harsh but just judgment)
Remembering that there is a direct connection between God’s holiness and His glory, God said, “Because you did not glorify me (uphold me as holy) by obeying me, you can never enter into the Promised Land.”
To state this point positively: We glorify God through our obedience to God.
That is why David could sing in Psalm 3:3, “You, O Lord, are my shield and my glory.”
David may have acted despicably at times, but God referred to David as a “man after God’s own heart.” He did so, not because David was a good moral man, but because even in the midst of his immorality, David was obedient to the commands of God.
God forgives our sins and covers our sins in the blood of Christ, but He expects us to be obedient to His commands, and thus to give Him glory.
God knows that we are going to sin. That is why He relates to us through the blessing of grace. He forgives our sins and covers our sins in the blood of Christ, but He expects us to be obedient to His commands, and thus to give Him glory.
Application: Call to Practical Obedience
In the midst of the turmoil in which our country finds itself today, there may be times when we feel hopeless and afraid about the outcome. That is when our faith in God as our shield and glory come into play.
We might not be able to change the world around us, but we can glorify God by continuing to live for Him, being light (glory) to the world around us, and praying for God’s hand of mercy and grace, even in the midst of judgment.
How do we do this? These verses don’t come close to answering that question, but at least, in the face of a world that seems to get crazier every day, they are a place to start. Remember, that obedience to God’s instructions reveals His glory and His holiness.
1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone (comes from a Greek word that means “don’t leave anyone out”), love the family of believers (the church), fear God, honor the emperor (in our case, the POTUS).
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Compare Daniel 4:17; Jeremiah 27:5)
Jeremiah 29:7 Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. (In the 21st century, this means the city, county, parish, state, or country in which we live, like it or not.) Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people (pretty much means you don’t get to choose who you pray for – all lives matter) – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.