Defiant Faith and the Glory of God
What’s sticking with you from this past Sunday’s sermon? Pastor Jeff has asked to write a few blogs posts reflecting on my experiences at Christ Church’s Sunday service. Today, I want to think a little deeper about one point of last Sunday's sermon on “Defiant Faith” taken from Psalm 6, focusing especially on verses 4 and 5 and on the truths that can be derived from them:
Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
The Purpose of Salvation
David calls on God to save him and the reason he gives to God is “for the sake of your steadfast love.” He goes on to appeal to God's desire for praise when he says, “for in death there is no remembrance of you. In Sheol who will give you praise?” David is appealing to God's desire for his own Glory. He is basing his prayer upon the Lord's desire to be glorified. At the end of the Psalm we see David full of confidence that the Lord will answer his prayer. David is confident that God will act for his own sake, that God will save for the sake of his own glory!
Now this can raise some questions or objections. I certainly have seen them in my own heart. Mainly, “Is it not selfishness or megalomania for God to desire his own Glory?” The answer must lie within the nature of God. There is no analogy that parallels God. He is the supreme being. He is the ultimate reality, the source of truth, the most glorious being in all the universe. The chain of praise must stop somewhere. In all truthfulness, some small part of me would in my fallen condition has perhaps desired for the chain to stops with humanity. That in some sense God would be even more “selfless”. But objections to God's glory being the highest good in the universe come from a source of pride. Remember how the serpent in the garden elicited the first sin by promising: “you will be like God”? Giving glory to anything less than God is ultimately Idolatry. But this truth is not meant to suppress us into begrudging obedience and praise. We don't glorify God because we have to. Giving glory to God is the purpose of human existence. The first statement of the Westminster Catechism which I had to memorize as a child is that “Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” There is a reason every society in the history of the world invented a deity. Because despite Man's sinful desire to ultimately BE God, humanity feels its need to give glory and to give praise to another. That is the most soul satisfying thing a human being can do. God's desire for glory and our own desire for happiness are never at odds, when God is most glorified, we who love him will be most joyful. Neither is this saying that God never makes much of us or glorifies us in some sense! We should be all the more humbled that he who is ultimately worthy of all glory has humbled himself, taking on human form, and conversely will one day glorify us. Nevertheless in the end: “Unto him be glory in the church and in Christ.” Jesus."throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:21)
The effect that this has on me is that it gives me confidence that God will look past all my failure. In all honesty, we as humans are not worthy of God's help. We don't earn or deserve his salvation. David at this point cannot appeal to his own worthiness in asking God to help him. I've often felt very much the same. I see the depravity of my own heart and feel that I don't really have the right to call in a favor from God. Verse 1 clearly shows that David isn't on a spiritual high as far as holiness is concerned. He is under the discipline and anger of the Lord. The only thing that is left to appeal to when we don't deserve for God to help us, must then be something entirely separate from us. This is why God's desire to be praised is the only rock on which the unworthy may take their stand. We don't say “God vindicate me!” we say “God vindicate your own faithfulness!”
But how is God glorified in rescuing David? Looking at the bible, some of the most beautiful and most often praised attributes of God are his mercy towards the undeserving, his faithfulness to his people, his love of those who are unlovable. These are the things that God is praised for. If then God will be praised, he will most certainly do that which is praiseworthy. If God's glory is revealed in salvation, he will most certainly save. If God's glory is put on display in his rescuing his people, he will put his glory on display, and I will be saved, when he shows himself to be powerful on behalf of his people. My final and ultimate confidence in my own salvation and its permanence, is rooted in this fact: That God most finally and ultimately looks not to my own worth when saving me but acts in accord with his own glorious character. That’s really good news!