What Is God’s Majesty Really All About?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.
In the 1980s, Christians in Southern California began to sing the worship song "Majesty," written by Jack Hayford, pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys. Before long, this song was being sung throughout the world by millions of people. For years, it was one of the most popular of all contemporary worship songs. Even today, more than thirty years after it was first published, "Majesty" still ranks in the top 100 of CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International). I wouldn't be surprised if this song has been sung more often by more people throughout the world than any other recent hymn or praise song.
But, when we sing "Majesty," do we really know what we're singing? We're supposed to worship God's majesty. That's right on. But what does it mean?
I expect most of us have a gut feeling about what God's majesty is. It has to do with God's strength and glory. Kings and queens are called "Your Majesty" in recognition of their sovereignty. So God's majesty may also be his authority. I suppose many might equate God's majesty with his greatness. All of these notions of majesty are wonderful. Surely they represent attributes of God that compel us to worship. But can we get clear on the actual definition of "majesty?"
The English word "majesty" comes to us from the Latin word maiestas, which means "greatness or dignity." In the Hebrew original of Psalm 93, the word translated into English as "majesty" is ge’ut (pronounced guh-OOth). The standard Hebrew-English lexicon defines this word as, you guessed it, "majesty." It is closely related to the word translated as "pride" in a negative sense (ge’ah). Both of these words derive from a root that means "to rise." So, if you think too highly of yourself, then you have ge’ah, which is not good. But when it comes to God, who is utterly great, who is the God above all other gods, then ge’ut is appropriate. This word doesn't convey God's pride in himself. Rather, it stands for God's reputation among people and that which deserves this glory. We might get the sense of the word by saying that God is rightly thought of more highly than any other being, in heaven and earth.
So, when it comes to Psalm 93:1, God's being robed in majesty represents his being enveloped in the esteem of his creatures. God's great strength calls forth honor. God's glory demands praise. Thus, this psalm reminds us why we worship God even as it calls us to worship. In a sense, we join ourselves to the robe of majesty that surrounds God when we worship him.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you think of God's majesty, what comes to mind? Do you think of your worship as joining you to a universal chorus of praise? How might this thought affect your worship of God?
PRAYER: All praise be to you, O God, because you are robed in majesty. Your greatness calls forth worship. Your creation glorifies you because you alone are worthy of glory.
May I live for the praise of your glory, adding a few strands to your robe of majesty. Amen.
Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast.
Creating Beauty at Work
Are you feeling a little lackluster about your work environment? Then our series Creating Beauty at Work is for you. While brightly painted walls or sleek, modern furniture might lighten our mood and inspire creativity, investing in the people we work with, helping them to bring the best of who they are and caring about them even when they can’t, is at the heart of a beautiful workplace. Before you buy a new framed print for the wall, try complimenting your cubicle mate or saying thank you to the janitor. Or if you or someone you know needs encouragement along these lines, then start a conversation with a coworker or friend by joining us on The High Calling.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.