Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. (Ps. 115:1)
God’s glory is a theme that runs through Scripture. The Lord is glorified in Himself because of who He is, and because of what He does. Those who know God and approve of His works praise Him accordingly. The psalmist, in the opening verse, gives glory to God for His lovingkindness and truth. However, in other biblical passages, believers give glory to God for His judgment against the wicked, such as when the Israelites sing praises to God for destroying the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Ex. 14:16-31; cf. the Song of Moses in Exodus 15). In Scripture, God is glorified both in the display of His love and grace toward sinners (Ps. 29:2; 115:1; Eph. 2:4-7), and also in the righteous demonstration of His justice toward unbelievers who defy Him (Rev. 14:7; 16:9; 20:11-15).
Biblically, the primary purpose of our relationship with God is to bring Him glory (Rom. 11:36; 16:27; 1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 1:6, 11-14). We give glory to God because He loves us. We honor and adore Him because He is faithful to us and we have tasted of His goodness. We praise Him because His truth sustains us. God never resorts to strong-arm tactics to extract praise from the believer. Forced-praise is a contradiction like forced-love. Love is freely given and freely received, and this makes worship a free and true expression of genuine gratitude to God. As the psalmist writes, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth” (Ps. 115:1).
To glorify God assumes we are in a relationship with Him and have received His blessings (John 3:16; Eph. 1:3). But this requires faith in Jesus Christ and knowledge of God’s Word. Jesus died for the sins of everyone (Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2), but His death is effectual only for those who believe in Christ for salvation (Eph. 1:4-7; 2:8-9; Tit. 3:4-5). Once we are saved, we learn God’s Word that we might live His will and worship as God requires. When speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus proclaimed, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The phrase “in spirit” speaks to the new birth, because only God’s people have the spiritual capacity to worship Him who is Spirit in essence. To worship in “truth” means to worship according to the standard of God’s Word. Biblical worship is a free and intelligent expression of praise to God in response to His gracious love.
It is unfortunate, but there are many who refuse to give God the glory that is due Him. Unbelievers habitually dishonor God through a lack of appreciation. Having spurned the revelation of God through creation, they turn their minds toward self; “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21). When a person turns away from God, he praises himself, his education, his accomplishments, or his wealth. This is the way of the world, and the believer must guard himself against these traps. We pursue what we love, and things of the world can become substitutes that are adored in place of God. Idolatry is thievery, because it steals God’s glory and gives it to another. The Lord declares, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8). Men who love the Lord boast in the Lord, and men who love themselves boast in themselves.
Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. (Jer. 9:23-24)
The believer who knows the Lord and delights in His ways eventually begins to manifest His qualities. God declares, “I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things” (Jer. 9:24). The growing believer who is walking with the Lord and learning His Word will eventually begin to manifest the character of Christ, and this brings glory to God. J. Dwight Pentecost writes:
There can be no higher goal. There can be no higher ambition. There can be no higher purpose than that which the Word of God puts before us as the chief end of the child of God, to glorify God. The greatest goal in the believer’s life is not his own enjoyment of his salvation. His highest goal is not learning the truths of Scripture, nor even teaching and preaching the Word. His greatest goal is to live Jesus Christ so that men may know the Father. God is glorified through the transformation in the life of His child that enables Him to use that child to reveal Himself to men, so that as men respond to that which has been revealed of Christ, they might honor and glorify the Father.
May we, as believers, “ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name” (Ps. 29:2). And may we honor Him by learning His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), praising and thanking Him (1 Thess. 5:18), and walking in a manner that pleases Him and edifies others (Col. 1:10).
Soli Deo Gloria ~ Glory to God Alone
Steven R. Cook, M. Div.
 J. Dwight Pentecost, Designed to Be Like Him: Understanding God’s Plan for Fellowship, Conduct, Conflict, and Maturity (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 196.