Psalm 138 (ESV)
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.
Whenever I find myself reading a book or watching a movie with my kids, I always catch myself pointing out to them moments of significance. I want them not to miss the clues in the mystery or the signs that a good guy is about to turn bad. I want them to see the moments that are supposed to be important.
From time to time, we come across a thought, a moment, or a verse in Scripture that we simply do not want to let pass without noticing it. And, if we are not careful, those moments will slide past us in our daily readings without us stopping to consider them.
Psalm 138:2 is one of those verses that, if we are not careful, will fly by. In the verse above, we see the statement, “for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Right there, we see what God has exalted, what he has raised up as most important. What is above all to the Lord? What does God value most?
In the verse, it is plain that God has set above all other things his name and his word. The name of the Lord is his reputation, his actual character. God has declared who he is to be more important than anything else. God’s glory, his person, his personal attributes, his nature is more important than any other thing that you or I can think of.
In tandem with God’s name, the Lord has exalted his word. His commands and the holy Scriptures are of highest importance. Other things in this life are less important. God’s communication of himself to mankind is of inestimable value.
It is likely that most of us know that God’s name and his word are valuable above all else. But, what is the significance of this truth. If God really meant what he inspired in Psalm 138:2, what does it change. How does it impact how you and I view the world? How does it shape our churches, our worship services, our priorities? How does it impact how we interact with the culture around us? How does it help us to grasp our responsibility in conflicts?
What would it look like in your life if the name and word of God were your top priorities? How would it impact your worship attendance? How would it impact what you value in the worship services? How would it impact how you use your time? How would it impact your career choices?
To those who are outside of the faith, this concept of God exalting his name and word above all is a completely foreign concept. This truth alone is why a truly secular state will never balance with Christianity. The state will not understand how genuine Christians will be required to turn away from what others consider to be the flow of history and cling to the Scriptures for our values.
Honestly, even among Christians, there will be issues. Many churches exalt other things above the name and word of God. Evangelism, social good, community service, programs, performances, activities, all are good and important things. However, if we are not careful, we can allow those activities to outshine the way that the church honors the Lord and holds fast to his word.
Consider how the exaltation of God’s name and word must impact a church’s response to sin in the lives of her members. Of course, we will be gracious and loving to our people, just as God has commanded in his word. However, the church cannot counsel a person to do what Scripture has forbidden. Nor can a church ignore it when her members refuse to follow the word. Thus, loving, restorative confrontation is part of the life of a church for the sake of the name and word of God.
On and on we could go, but the point is clear: God’s name and God’s word are number one. Thus, we exist for his glory. We obey his word. Our churches exist for that worship and word of God. We must not let this slide past us in our reading. We must genuinely consider what it will look like to live under God’s priority structure.