“I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your Name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your Name and Your Word. On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased.” (Psalm 138:2-3 ESV)
As sinful human beings, we wish to exalt ourselves. Even the very shy and retiring among us do so. Our efforts to satisfy our own desires are, in fact, part of what sin is all about. God commands, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), but in sinful pride we set ourselves before God, doing what we want instead of what God wants for us. Yet as His First Commandment shows us, our worship belongs, not to ourselves, but to God alone. He is God, and He has “exalted above all things” His Name and His Word. We, as fallen people, often exalt ourselves through idolatry. God exalted His holy Name and Word through the astonishing self-sacrifice of His saving work.
The people of Israel had sinned against the Lord by exalting themselves and their own desires through idolatry and bloodshed. In response to their sin, God “scattered them among the nations,” sending His people into exile as captives of their enemies (Ezekiel 36:19a). The inhabitants of those foreign lands ridiculed the exiled Israelites and their God. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, yet their mighty God had sent them away! The conquering nations mocked the God of Israel, so God acted in power to exalt His holy Name. He told the Israelites, “I will vindicate the holiness of My great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 36:23a). For the sake of His holy Name, to show Himself holy and blameless, God would gather His people and cleanse them from their sins.
This cleansing from sin would be brought about through God’s self-giving sacrifice. At the right time, Jesus, God the Son, humbled Himself to take on human flesh. He sacrificed Himself, submitting to a shameful death on a cross for the sake of our salvation. Our sins are washed away in Jesus’ blood. God’s holy Name was vindicated, His promises kept.
Our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. We respond with worship and praise, exalting God’s holy Name and giving thanks for His steadfast love and faithfulness. As God hears and answers our prayers, our “strength of soul” is increased. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we seek to exalt, not ourselves, but God’s holy Name and His Word. We repent of our idolatrous ways and rejoice: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your Name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1)
Prayer: Mighty Lord, help me by Your Spirit to give of myself to others, offering service in Your holy Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. How can we exalt ourselves, or other things, over God without even being aware of it?
2. Give all the names you know for God besides “Lord” as found in the Old Testament.
3. How do you revere God’s Name in your conversation?