Idolaters have overrun the land. Pagans mock Israel’s God. Barely hanging on, a beleaguered people teeter on the jagged edge of despair. Vicious enemies, a blood-thirsty lot, crouch on Israel’s borders. The land empties of hope. God does nothing.
God’s people are desperate for their God to move. They offer an earnest, desperate plea. A wounded people with nothing to lose, they ask God for what they truly want, their deepest desire: God’s glory. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory” (Psalm 115:1). This is not a theological ideal or a religious platitude. This is a cry of the heart.
Their request for God’s glory was not simply a means to something else they wanted more, like a child stuffing down his broccoli so he can get to the chocolate cake. They weren’t saying, “God, bring glory to yourself so we can get what we want.” They were pleading, “God, bring all the glory to yourself – this is what we crave.”
How could God’s glory be their deepest longing, especially at a time like this? Israel had no problem asking God for many other things. Regularly, they asked God for rain, the destruction of their enemies, large broods of kids, bountiful harvest and wisdom. Yet in this critical moment they craved God’s glory more than victory, more than power, even more than safety.
Israel had staked everything on God. Their existence centered on the conviction that Yahweh was their God. God was their identity. They bore His name, and their created purpose offered them their most passion-filled joy: the glory of their King. Worship was their highest aim.
Israel knew God as more than the giver of “good stuff.” For them, pleasure was not simply the sum of what God provided. Pleasure was God Himself. God was their joy, their hope, their Father, their life. If God did not tailor everything to His glory alone, then God was not who He said He was, their existence was meaningless and ultimate pleasure was lost.
So, they begged God to guard His glory. In this, Israel was asking for pure, unadulterated pleasure – pleasure that can only come from a grand God. Are we so bold? Do we know what it is to yearn for deep pleasure in the glory of God?
Dear Father, it is not to my own, but to Your name be the glory. Show me how to store up good treasures in Heaven.