Above All Gods
For you, O LORD, are supreme over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
In 1977, as the praise and worship wave was just beginning to crash on the beaches of the American church, Pete Sanchez, Jr., took Psalm 97:9 in the King James version and wrote a simple song: “For Thou, O LORD, art high above all the earth; Thou are exalted far above all gods. I exalt Thee . . . .” For years, this song was one of the most popular in the world, as it was sung by tens of millions of people every week.
But did this song, and the verse upon which it was based, teach us to believe that there are gods besides the Lord? How could God be greater than all gods if he is the only true God?
These questions can be answered in two different ways. First, the word in Psalm 97:9 translated as “gods,” ’elohim in Hebrew, can also be rendered “divine beings.” So this verse could mean that the Lord is greater than all the angels. This is true, of course, yet most English translations prefer “all gods” rather than “all angels.” The translators are not suggesting that we become polytheists, people who believe that there are many gods. Rather, they see Psalm 97:9 as claiming that the Lord is greater than all the false gods of the nations. Alternatively, they might see Psalm 97:9 as a poetic statement of God’s greatness that doesn’t require us to believe that other gods actually exist. The point of this verse is to testify to the Lord’s superlative greatness. God is greater than anything in all creation, even other heavenly beings, even all other gods (if there actually were other gods).
When we use Psalm 97:9 in our worship, or when we sing songs like “I Exalt Thee” by Pete Sanchez, Jr., we are not confessing the existence of other gods. Rather, we are emphasizing the all-surpassing greatness of the one, true God. Moreover, we are saying that God is greater than everything we value in this life, our “gods,” if you will. When we worship God, we acknowledge his greatness and his number one position in our lives.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What other “gods” compete for honor in your life? How do you honor God in your life apart from church and your devotions?
O Lord, you are high above all the earth. You are greater than all that would compete for my allegiance. . . .
You’re greater than my family.
You’re greater than my desire for security.
You’re greater than my home and possessions.
You’re greater than my work.
You’re greater than my country.
You’re greater than my accomplishments.
You’re greater than the wonders of creation.
All praise be to you, O God, for you are greater than everything! Amen.
“I Exalt Thee,” Copyright © 1977 Pete Sanchez, Jr. (Admin. by Gabriel Music, Inc. P. O. Box 840999, Houston, TX 77284-0999)