Four Reasons Why People in Power Should Glorify God
David Dickson (c.1583–1662) was a Professor of Theology at the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh who wrote commentaries on many different books of Scripture. He opposed the unbiblical worship and church government foisted on the Church in Scotland by Charles II and this cost him his position.
4 Jul, 2024

While we wait for the dust to settle after the General Election, we are both comforted and challenged by the truth that the Lord is still in power and looking after the whole of human history for His own glory. This is not merely a platitude for Christians to use to soothe themselves after unwelcome election results. It is an understanding that should shape everything, including when things are going the way we would like. Those who are now in power in the nation must take account of this too. The gospel requirement remains in force, that whoever we are and whatever position we hold, we must all trustingly and penitently acknowledge the Lord in His glory sitting king for ever. As David Dickson shows in the following extract from his comments on Psalm 29, the gospel confronts those in positions of authority, the “mighty” and the “potentates” in our nation.

In Psalm 29, David directs his exhortation to the potentates of the earth, “O ye mighty,” in order that they may humble themselves before God, and give Him the glory of all power, and authority, and excellency, above themselves, and above all other creatures.

Although princes should be most careful of all people to glorify God, yet it is most rare to see them humble themselves before Him. Natural corruption is as strong in them as in others, and their education breeds them to high and stately thoughts of themselves, while their riches and power puff them up, and the flatterers who ordinarily attend them make them forget themselves and God also. Therefore they are thrice exhorted here to give glory to God (v1–2).

It is most necessary that potentates humble themselves before God, and be singled out to be challenged to do so, because their example and authority prompt many outwardly to submit to God. That is why David speaks to them in their grandeur, “Give glory to God, O ye mighty” (v.1).

To the extent that men are great in the world, they are ready to think much of their own strength, of what their power is able to reach to, and what honour is due to them. But if they reckon right, strength and glory belong to God. And according as He is above them in power and excellency, so should He proportionably be magnified. “Give unto the Lord glory and strength, and give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name” (v.2).

The glory which God wants is what He has prescribed in His own ordinances, given forth in His Word to His church. “Worship him in the beauty of holiness,” that is, in the glorious sanctuary, the place of public meeting, beautiful indeed, not so much for timber or stones, but because there are the holy and beautiful means of grace to us, and God’s worship showing forth His glory.

Because He has more power and majesty than them

David’s proof for the claim that strength and glory belong to the Lord is just the one single work of thundering (v.3–9).

Though the standing works of creation speak most of God, yet such is our foolishness that we apprehend least what is seen daily, and a lesser work which occurs more rarely will move more people, as for example, the thunder, or the eclipse of the sun or moon.

No work of the Lord is rightly grasped till He Himself be looked to as the immediate worker of it. This is why David points out the sound of the thunder, as the voice of the Lord upon many waters.

Though the Lord should be observed as the worker of every work, yet He is not at first seen in His work to any purpose, till by often reviewing His operation about it, we become somewhat affected with His glory and power in them. David repeats the second time, “the God of glory thundereth,” and the third time, “the Lord is upon many waters” (v.3–4).

When the thunder (or any work of God) is well considered, some invisible thing of God will appear in it; as for example, His power and majesty (v.4).

Then David goes into more detail on the subject, and shows the effects of God’s voice on trees (v.5), mountains (v.6), the lightning (v.7), the waste wilderness (v.8), the animals and the woods which are their habitat (v.9).

Human senselessness is greater than that of the brute creatures. They are all more moved with the thunder than are human hearts, for the most part. Yet one work of God that you dwell on, shows more of God than many of His works which you looked at slightly and pass over. Indeed, one sensitive and understanding person will discover more of God in one work of God, than will many in their ordinary mood, either in that work, or in any other, or in all His works.

Because He shows His glory best in His church

David gives a second reason for his exhortation to the mighty to worship God in the beauty of holiness, because “in his temple every one doth speak of his glory” (v.9).

Although the glory of the Lord is displayed in all the earth, and in all His works, yet it is in His temple, in His church, that His works are displayed expressly and fully. For there, by His Word, His counsel is opened, and His holiness, His goodness, justice, mercy, and all His attributes are declared.

Outside the church, people are compelled to acknowledge His glory now and then, but in His church, people declare His glory distinctly and willingly. “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” All there confess His praise, and everything in the temple holds out something of Christ and His benefits, to the glory of God’s mercy. This is more than the world can understand.

Because He reigns supreme

A third reason to motivate princes to give to God glory and strength, is, because His kingdom reaches to the ruling of the waters (“the Lord sits on the flood”), and because He is a king immortal (“the Lord sits king for ever”) (v.10).

As the strength of the Lord appears in all His works, so it is especially apparent that He rules the raging sea. Once He drowned the world with it, and now He binds it up, that it should never do so again. No king is king over every kingdom and king, but God is King above all kings. No king is of long continuance, but the Lord is the everlasting king. Every mighty one should do Him homage, as his king, his lord, and his supreme superior.

Because He will bless His people

Fourthly, those who humbly submit themselves to the Lord, and worship Him as His people should do, shall be equipped with abilities for every good work, and shall be abundantly blessed (v.11). Potentates should be motivated to give all glory to God, and to join with His people in glorifying him, because of the blessedness of His people, who worship Him in His holy temple.

The power of the Lord is not against His people, but for His people, against His and their enemies. “He gives strength to his people,” i.e., against their enemies, and to equip them to every part of His service He calls them to. The Lord’s people give the glory of power and strength to the Lord, and the Lord will give strength to his people.

The true worshippers of God, whatsoever may be their exercise in the world, may be sure of reconciliation with Him, and of true blessedness, for the Lord will bless His people with peace (v.11).

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