The Sovereign Glory of God
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (v. 1).- Psalm 8
Post tenebras lux—“After darkness, light”—was one of the mottoes of the Reformation. For too long, the light of God’s truth in the gospel had been obscured by man-made traditions that made human beings responsible for meriting their own salvation. So, when the Reformers recovered the gospel from under the layers of inherited man-made doctrines and practices, it was if a light had dawned in the church once more.
We could also look at the Reformation motto as a rediscovery of the true glory of God. Scripture often describes the glory of God as a bright shining light (Rev. 21:23), and given that divine glory is also associated with beauty, worth, and holiness (Isa. 28:5; John 12:41; 2 Cor. 4:17), rediscovering the truth of the gospel also entailed a recovery of divine beauty, worth, and holiness. For the God of Scripture proclaimed by the Reformers is so holy that only He can provide us with the righteousness we need to stand before Him. And in His work of salvation, we see the beauty of the Savior and we understand by His grace that He alone is worthy of all praise.
In addition to light, beauty, worth, and holiness, Scripture also associates divine sovereignty with divine glory. We see this in today’s passage, which proclaims that God has set His glory “above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1). That is language pertaining to our Creator’s rule and reign, and the rest of Psalm 8 bears that out. Verses 3–8, for instance, speak of God’s sovereign choice to give human beings a high place in His creation and of His delegating His rule over the creatures to humanity.
Other texts also tie glory and divine sovereignty together. First Chronicles 29:11 features David’s song of praise in which he ascribes to God both glory and kingly reign over creation. In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul says that God calls us into His kingdom and to His glory. The Lord is referred to in 1 Timothy 1:17 as the “King of the ages,” and glory is ascribed to Him in that passage. The glory of God is expressed in His sovereign reign over all things.
We have said before that God’s glory, from one perspective, can be considered a summary attribute. It sums up many different aspects of the character of the Lord, such that to say God is glorious is to say He is beautiful, true, worthy, pure, and sovereign. Christians long to see the glory of God because in that glory they see the nature and attributes of God.
Because God is glorious, He is sovereign over all things. Because God is sovereign over all things, He is glorious. We cannot separate these attributes of His character, and one of the reasons that we emphasize the complete sovereignty of God over every detail of creation is because we want to emphasize His glory. God is most glorified by us when we ascribe to Him full control over all things, even our salvation.
Passages for Further Study