Exploring God’s Greatness
Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on April 20, 2010
So how do we magnify the greatness and glory of God in the hearts and minds of those we lead? God has given us the book of Psalms, sometimes called “God's hymnal,”to help us. The Psalms explore the highs and lows of human emotions anddemonstrate how to express them before a holy, sovereign, and loving God.They suggest three categories in which we can magnify God's greatness: his Word, his nature, and his works.
God's Word is his self-revelation to us. While we don't actually worship the Word of God, we come to know his greatness through it.
So the psalmist declares, “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whoseword I praise, in God I trust” (Psalm 56:10–11). The word of the Lord is “perfect,” “sure,” “right,” “pure,” and “true” (Psalm 19:7–9). The longest chapter in Scripture, Psalm 119, is a captivating meditation on how God's Word encourages and governs our lives, and near the end the writer concludes, “Mytongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right” (v. 172).
No matter what we do with lighting, video, sound, or drama, our purpose isn't coming up with the best video images, the hottest musical arrangements,or the most creative props. We want people to leave in awe that God wouldspeak to us—encouraged by his promises, challenged by his commands, fearful of his warnings, and grateful for his blessings. We want them to see God's greatness in his Word.
The Psalms also focus on God's nature, conveying the reasons he deserves our praise. We'll never reach the end of them.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:8–9)
Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1–2)
Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. (Psalm 21:13)
Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! (Psalm 99:3)
On this side of the Incarnation and Pentecost, we can also see God's greatness in his triune nature. We worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who are eternally coexistent, coequal, and co-glorious. One God in three persons. In fact, worship is the triune God inviting us to share in the fellowshipand joy he has known from eternity past. We've been chosen to join him in his eternal preoccupation: magnifying his endless glories, perfections, and beauty.
How could anyone ever think worshiping God is boring? There's no limit to his holiness, glory, and sovereignty, no end to his riches, wisdom, and righteousness. All his attributes exist together in perfect harmony, perfect balance, perfect cooperation, with no contradiction, no confusion, and nodiminishing of their glory forever. He is the source of everything good and beautiful. No wonder Paul breaks into worship as he describes God's greatness: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).
Magnifying God's greatness, as we learn from the Psalms, also includes drawing attention to his works. “Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (Psalm 105:2). His works are different from but are eternally linked to his character.
One of our problems is that we're often more impressed with what we do than with what God has done. We're like those who “do not regard the works of the Lord or the work of his hands” (Psalm 28:5). But the psalmist reminds us, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them”(Psalm 111:2). Corporate worship should help us become freshly acquainted with what God has done, because we forget so quickly.
God created everything from nothing and spoke the universe into existence with a word (Psalm 148:5; Hebrews 11:3). He sustains all livingcreatures and non-living matter. His power holds all things together and keeps them from exploding or disintegrating (Colossians 1:17).
Psalm 111 is a condensed song of praise extolling God's works on behalf of his people. In this one psalm alone, God is praised as the one who providesfor us, keeps his covenant with us, delivers us, rules us, and redeems us.
The Psalms resound with detailed praises of God's wondrous works. Our songs should as well.
The Psalms serve as our example in praising God but only point to thefuller revelation of God's glory in Jesus Christ. The greatest of all God's works by far is the giving of his Son at Calvary. It's only through Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross that we can draw near to God at all (Hebrews 10:19–22). In the cross we find a perfect reconciling of God's blazing holiness, holy justice, incomprehensible wisdom, omnipotent power, and unfathomable love.
What a God we worship! As the psalmist said, “There is none like youamong the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours” (Psalm 86:8).
These truths about God's Word and worthiness and works aren't just for seminarians pursuing a theology degree. God has revealed them to us for ourcomfort, correction, strengthening, protection, and joy. He has revealed themto us for our worship. That's why the books I typically find most profitable for leading worship aren't daily devotionals that bring God down to my level, buttheology books that stretch my understanding of God. Knowing God by J. I. Packer, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer, and The Pleasures of God by John Piper are a few of many I'd recommend.
Other Posts Featuring Bob Kauflin
- Why Confession Is Good for Your Soul and Your Church with Bob Kauflin
- Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Contextually
- Focus on Projecting Lyrics
- Music Should Display Variety
- Hearing Familiar Words in a Fresh Way
- Planning Sunday's Songs-Plan Selectively
- Planning Sunday's Songs
- Selecting Sunday's Songs-Plan Creatively