Friday, October 19, 2018

Above All Gods

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Ps 96:4-5 

Once again, the otherwise venerable tradition of translating the Name of God—יהוה—as The Lord gets in the way here. So let's look at it this way:

For great is יהוה, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but
יהוה made the heavens.

This makes it much easier to understand this psalm's context. Israel's God is great, and is worthy of worship—much more so than all other divinities. For these other divinities exist only as idols, but it was Israel's God who created the universe.

Perhaps by gods, the psalmist intended only those represented by idols and worshiped by neighboring peoples, or even the angels acknowledged by the Hebrews. But I know that gods include anything I place ahead of God. "I would still be of the opinion," said Calvin, "that the term comprehends whatever is, or is accounted deity." Thus, my favorite gods are also excluded from worthiness of praise, whether they be a political strongman (or -woman), my possessions, my most treasured (or longed for) relationship, or anything else that I (today, at least) find more attractive than my Maker.

Forgive me, Lord, for the allegiance I give to gods which are no gods. By your grace, may I worship only you, for you alone are worthy of my praise; in Jesus' Name who taught me to pray...