Magnify the Lord . . . by Rene Milner
I sat for a while this morning pondering how I could use this small space to encourage others to Magnify God with me. I use that phrase because the recent elder retreat and the events following it has had a lasting impact on me. As I thought about that particular goal I realized that is what a Pastoral Pondering should be. In fact it is the entire purpose of our worship, our existence together as a body and our very reason for being. So at the risk of being lazy, I am just going to steal from the elder retreat and take a look at part of Psalm 34. Don’t worry. This won’t be long, just a small snippet that I pray blesses you and magnifies God.
The beginning of Psalm 34 actually gives us the setting for when and why David wrote the psalm. What a unique opportunity. We get to see the actual situation that David wrote this psalm from. With this knowledge we can identify and relate ourselves to these very words. Perhaps this is one of the things that I love about the Psalms in general. They are very real and raw and lead us from a lot of the personal places we are in to a deeper knowing of God.
In brief, David was on the run (1 Sam. 21). He lied to the priest in order to get food. Then he feigned madness to escape the king of Gath. It seems like a great story of David’s cunning. A little lie here, some deceit there, and voila—David is safe.
So why then does David write Psalm 34? “My soul makes its boast in the LORD”. He starts there and goes on to speak of how great God is. Not a word in the Psalm about his own somewhat questionable actions. He was in a pickle. He was delivered, but the details don’t matter because he knows it was all God. Yep, David tried some things but he realized that his actions had very little to do with God’s deliverance. He is just overjoyed that God has delivered him. In his gratefulness he breaks out into praise. He wants to tell of God and have others join with him in seeing God. “Oh, magnify the LORD with me”. This blows me away. Think about it. The Spirit prompts it; David proclaims it; so it must be what we are to do. Kind of like “Let’s take something infinite, something higher than any man can think and let’s ‘magnify’ it.”
How does that work? Infinite just got bigger. I am no mathematician but multiplying infinity does not seem possible. So I have been thinking about this. How can I magnify God? Well, truly I can’t make Him any bigger than He is, but I can see a couple of ways that this might work. The first is to think of it as a magnifying process. This works with small things. I can look at bacteria under magnification, and I can see them better. Perhaps, even understand them better. I think this works with some of the smaller thoughts of God. I can look at a trait or a characteristic and I can study it and research it and my understanding of it becomes larger. For that I don’t think that David would have to reach out to those around him and enlist them to “exalt His name together!” So there must be more. Now if they were all the same, thought the same, and reasoned the same, then there would be no purpose either. There must be something special about magnifying together. As each person looks at God, studies God, and experiences God’s action in his or her life, there becomes many descriptions of God, many insights into God, and many stories about God. Slowly our vision or picture of God grows. This sounds like magnification.
I used to think praise was giving back to God and I took a low view of the “magnification” of God based on the impossibility of multiplying infinity. Now I believe that this may be our purpose: God magnification. We are specifically created to be impacted by God in such a way that the impression He leaves after contact with us radiates from our lives. Accordingly, all our words and actions come from the “impressions” that He leaves in us. These impressions overwhelmingly result in worship and praise in such a way that He is magnified. I live, I act (maybe I even act mad sometimes), and God’s purposes are carried out. My reaction of being acted on by Him is all glory to Him. That is it. So, whether we eat or we drink, we live or we die, the LORD be glorified. What an awesome opportunity this is. And one that can only reach its fullness if we magnify Him together.
Thanks be to God through our LORD Jesus Christ that we have been counted as worthy to reflect and to magnify Him.