The Greatness of God

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (vv. 25–26).

- 1 Chronicles 16:23–43

Continuing our look at the song that David sang when he successfully brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, we come to 1 Chronicles 16:23–43. The second half of this song is found in verses 23–36, and it is taken from Psalms 96:1–13 and 106:1, 47–48. This portion of the song has a universal focus, exhorting all creation to worship the Lord of Israel, the only true creator God.

First Chronicles 16:23–27 emphasizes the truth of God’s uniqueness. That is, unlike the other gods worshiped by the nations outside of Israel, Yahweh, the God of Israel, alone exists as deity. Other ancient peoples believed that each nation had its own god and that none of them was truly supreme over all else. However, the God of Israel is far different. Yahweh is to be feared “above all gods,” for He is not a worthless idol like the gods of the other nations. In fact, while these other supposed deities have made nothing, the Lord of Israel has made the heavens (vv. 25–26). Consequently, what He has done must be proclaimed not only to the nation that He chose to be His special possession—the nation of Israel—but “among all the peoples” (vv. 23–24). We see here that while the covenant community of Israel was called to a specific vocation, the worship of the one true God was never intended to be limited to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, the Great Commission given to the church by Christ should not be seen as an entirely new mandate (Matt. 28:18–20). Instead, the Great Commission is the natural outworking of the Lord’s desire from the beginning to have all nations worship Him.

In 1 Chronicles 16:28–34, the exhortations for all peoples to worship Yahweh, the God of Israel, become more specific. The Lord must be worshiped with reverent trembling, with joy, and in the splendor of holiness as we ascribe strength and glory to His name. This strength has been manifested in the Lord’s acts of creation and salvation, and His choice of Jerusalem as the place of the footstool of His throne—the ark of the covenant—was confirmation of the Lord’s presence with His people and the occasion for blessing His name (vv. 35–36). The presence of the ark in Jerusalem was an early fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people Israel (Ex. 29:45), where He would be worshiped and enjoyed. We cannot help but think of the ultimate fulfillment of this promise in the new Jerusalem, where God will make His permanent dwelling with us (Rev. 21:1–4).

Coram Deo

God’s intent was never to limit the grace of His salvation to one people group. Instead, He has always been seeking worshipers from every nation. Under the new covenant, we are privileged to see men and women from many nations streaming into the covenant community. As we are able, let us support all worthy efforts to make disciples of every nation.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 12:1–3
Psalms 95
Psalms 97
Psalms 106
Psalms 135
2 Corinthians 6:14–18

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.