Personal Owning of God
"Ascribe greatness unto our God." Deuteronomy 32:3
Let us ponder the varied implications of this text unto
the individual believer. We begin by drawing an inference—if
greatness is to be ascribed unto God, then obviously it is to be withheld
from the creature. The Lord God alone is truly great and therefore no
worm of the earth is entitled to the least share in the honor of that mighty
attribute. Did not the Lord Jesus emphasize this truth when addressing the
rich young man? "Good Master," he said to Him because he regarded Christ
only as an excellent human Teacher. Christ replied, "There is none good but
one—that is, God" (Matthew 19:17). So there is none great but one—the
Almighty. "To the only wise God—be glory" (Romans 16:27). That is, there is
none wise but one—the omniscient Lord. O what arrogance to arrogate unto
ourselves, that which pertains alone unto Deity!
Ours is supremely an age of bombast and impiety. Man is
inflated by a sense of his own importance. One vies with another in seeking
the homage of his fellows. From motives of self-interest, or from a spirit
of self-seeking flattery, many are willing to fawn upon some creature who is
but of yesterday, and flatter him by calling him "great" and giving to him
the most imposing titles. Nor is this evil confined to the commercial and
political world. How nauseating the arrogant titles assumed by Papist
priests, and how horrible the blasphemy of their dupes found in worship
before the arch-priest of Italy! Nor is this evil spirit of placing
ecclesiastical dignitaries on a pedestal and rendering homage to them,
by any means absent from "Protestant" circles. Much need is there, then, in
this day to press the exhortation, "Ascribe greatness unto our God" and to
Him alone, for He will not share His glory with another. Let us point out
some of the ways in which this may be done.
By WORSHIPING Him properly.
By this we do not mean that costly buildings must be erected, or that they
need to be richly furnished and an elaborate and imposing ritual instituted.
No, that were to ascribe littleness to God, as though He could be attracted
by outward show, and pleased with the baubles which amuse children. "The
Most High dwells not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48), for "the
heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You" (1 Kings 8:27). "God is
Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John
4:24): that is, from the heart, in sincerity: it is the homage of the
soul which He requires. "The Lord is great, and greatly to be
praised" (Psalm 96:4): but the very fact He is so high above us, requires
that we take our place in the dust at His feet. "O come let us worship and
bow down—let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Psalm 95:6). Let us in
deep humility, yet fervent gratitude adore Him and return thanks for all His
manifold mercies. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the
saints, and to be had in reverence by all about Him" (Psalm 89:7).
By trembling at His WORD.
It is much to be thankful for, if by grace
we receive that Word for what it actually is, namely, a Divine revelation.
Yes, it is cause for deep gratitude if we accept the Holy Scriptures not as
cunningly devised fables, nor even as the product of good and wise men—but
as the living oracles of Jehovah—as an inerrant communication of His heart,
His mind and His will to us. If we truly believe God's Word, we shall stand
in awe of it, for it is "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged
sword" (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of Truth does not contain good advice
which we may accept or refuse as we feel disposed—but the mandates of the
Almighty, which we ignore at our peril. Yes, which we refuse to our certain
and eternal undoing. The Scriptures come unto us clothed with all the
authority of the King of kings, and therefore implicit obedience to
their precepts is demanded of us. Said the Lord Jesus, "The Word that I have
spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). It is
therefore the part of wisdom, to measure ourselves by it and conform to its
requirements. O that we may be among those who "tremble at God's Word"
By counting on His POWER.
We profess to believe that He is the Almighty—yet no sooner are we in
straits, faced with obstacles and brought to our wit's end, than we act as
though God were as feeble and helpless as ourselves! No circumstances can
baffle Him—who is clothed with might; no situation can defy—the Maker and
Sustainer of the universe. He has but to speak—and it is done; to
command—and it stands fast (Psalm 33:9). But alas, unbelief darkens the mind
and beclouds the vision—so that we are no longer able to see the absolute
sufficiency of Him with whom we have to do. Caleb and Joshua ascribed
greatness unto their God when they said to the unbelieving nation, "the Lord
is with us—fear them not" (Num. 14:9). With their eyes on Him—the Canaanite
giants and walled cities dismayed them not! When in a tight place—look for
the Lord to show Himself strong on your behalf; when you are come to the end
of your own resources—count on Elijah's God working miracles for you; when
Satan tempts you to doubt—say, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
By relying on His GOODNESS.
The greatness of God consists not only of the majesty of His being and the
infinitude of His power—but also in that He is the sum of all moral and
spiritual excellence. "You are good—and do good" (Psalm
119:68): nothing must be allowed to cast doubt upon that grand fact. The
Divine goodness is God's acting kindly and benevolently, ministering to our
welfare. Assurance thereof enables the believer to declare, "When my father
and my mother forsake me—then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10). God
is "abundant in goodness" (Exo. 34:6), and unlike that goodness of man's,
which is often "as a morning cloud and as the early dew (which) goes away"
(Hosea 6:4), it "endures continually" (Psalm 52:1). An unshaken confidence
in God's goodness, lies at the foundation of our trust, love and hope in
Him. In the darkest hour we may count our blessings and know that all things
are being made to work together for our good. "The Lord is good, a
stronghold in the day of trouble" (Nahum 1:7). O that we may be among those
who "delight themselves in His great goodness" (Neh. 9:25).
By honoring His MERCY.
God is "plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). "Your mercy is great
above the heavens" (Psalm 108:4). Nor is it of brief duration: "His
mercy is everlasting" (Psalm 100:5). These are most precious
statements, and faith needs to be mixed with them when the soul is
overwhelmed by a sense of guilt.
If the believer has fallen by the wayside and is
horrified and in anguish at so foully defiling his garments, unbelief
will say that his case is hopeless. If he has transgressed against light and
warnings, perverted privileges, and disgraced the cause of Christ, Satan
will tell him his iniquities are too great to be pardoned. But Satan
lies. Then is the time to ascribe greatness unto God by honoring His mercy.
This is what David said: "O Lord, pardon my iniquity—for it is great"
(Psalm 25:11). So far from belittling his sin, he acknowledged the enormity
of it, and pressed that as the urgency of his case—like one saying, Give me
food, for I am starving. Do you feel as though you are full of sin? remember
Christ is "full of grace" (John 1:14). Plead Isaiah 1:18. Do not limit the
great God—but trust in the abundance of His mercy.
By reckoning on His FAITHFULNESS.
Did you not begin by coming to a great Savior, though
you felt yourself to be the vilest of the vile? Did He turn you away? Nor
will He now, if you cast yourself at His feet. "But I have abused His
goodness, misused His mercies and sinned more grievously than in my
unregenerate days—what hope can there be for me?" you ask. What hope?—this:
"If we confess our sins—He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). "But my trouble," says
another, "is the matter of temporal supplies: my health is gone, my loved
ones are dead, old age and starvation stare me in the face." Ah—but He who
has cared for you thus long—will not allow you to sink at the last, "His
compassions fail not . . . great is Your faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22, 23). "Our
ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for
help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were never
disappointed" (Psalm 22:4, 5). The godly in former ages committed themselves
to God in their trials, and He did not put them to confusion—and this should
encourage us. "Cast your burden upon the Lord—and He shall sustain you"
(Psalm 55:22). "He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23).
By taking refuge in His IMMUTABILITY.
The Lord is "the same yesterday and today and forever"
(Hebrews 13:8). Here is a stable rock on which to rest—amid the
changing billows of the sea of life. "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and
my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and
the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalms 18:2
What awful alterations we are now witnessing in the
world. Peace has given place to war, order to chaos, happiness to misery.
The homes of millions cruelly broken up, the plans and prospects of
countless young lives rudely shattered, kingdoms overthrown, the most stable
and ancient institutions are now in the melting pot. But none of this has
affected God: it will never have to be said of Him—that He began to build,
and was unable to finish. He is still on the throne "working all things
after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). It is this which enables
faith to say, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in
trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the
mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging." (Psalm 46:1-3). It is this
which assures the believer that no matter how he may waver, or professing
Christians apostatize, he shall not perish: "I am the Lord, I change not;
therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3:6). It is this which
causes the Christian to rely on the Divine promises—the knowledge that with
God "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).