“Ascribe to the Lord, mighty ones,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.” Psalm 29:1
Mighty, I’m guessing, is a word like rich, a word people give to others, never themselves. Few of us would consider ourselves the “mighty ones” specifically addressed in the first verse of this thundering psalm, in which David the King seems to be addressing some tenth-century elite council of the United Nations. But let’s eavesdrop.
Think football. The quarterback fakes a handoff to the tailback, then drops back, eyes ranging downfield. He pumps once, and the linebacker chasing him goes for the fake, allowing him a few extra seconds. The flanker’s on a fly pattern, so the QB heaves the ball up with everything he’s got, and somewhere down the field his man runs under it, grabs it, holds on, shuns a tackler, and waltzes into the end zone. The crowd ignites.
Today, almost inevitably in pro football, the flanker will perform. He’ll slam dunk the football over the goalpost or high five the first dozen teammates who greet him. Or T-bow. But most of the time what follows is some bizarre chicken-like strut, a gangly prance, a knee-dipping, elbow-flapping sashay. You know what I mean.
If it’s the home team, the crowd goes nuts, not simply because they love the dance but because they too feel the juice of that big-time touchdown pass. They love the score just as much as the flanker. Fortunately, the cameras never pan the stands. I’m sure just as much ostentatious prancing goes on in the bleachers.
Give all of that to God. That’s what David is telling his fellow potentates, really. Take hold of all that bravado, all that bellicose swagger, and lay it where it belongs, at the throne of God. Dance in joy to him. Cavort blessedly. Prance your praise.
To me, far too often, prayer means supplication. Some of the most earnest prayers of my lifetime—I remember them—have been uttered when I’m begging Him for something I can’t get or maintain for myself: a cure for cancer, an end to war, a balm for grief, a shelter in the time of storm. We draw closest to God, it seems, when our own reservoirs are depleted, when we know we need showers of blessings.
It may well require more of us, however, to bring him our glory and our strength, to thank him for a great class, to bless his name for the end of a story or a novel that just wouldn’t come. For rain. For the music of the birds. For sweet Sunday mornings. For 80 acres just planted.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s vastly easier to give him our worst than it is our best.
Ascribe to the Lord all strength and glory—that’s what David tells his potentate pals. Give him your finest diplomatic coups and the very best of your battles. Beg his love in your distress, but give him the praise for your everything.
Shouldn’t come as news to those of us reared in the Presbyterian tradition, in which the very first question and answer says as much. David’s song is more bellicose; the catechism, perhaps rightly, is more restrained; but the idea is the same.
What is the chief end of man? asks the Westminster Catechism; and the answer is simple: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Give him your victories. Bless his name with your triumphs. Give him your laughter, your smiles, your greatest achievements. They’re his anyway.
Glorify God and enjoy him forever.