More Glorious Than our Praises

Is it enough to praise God with our voices, or does Psalm 93 call us to something more appropriate to God's greatness?

The natural world glorifies God through it’s being. Man glorifies God by living well. But far from being adequate praise, Psalm 93 shows us that our praise alone, in whatever form it takes, is ‘not good enough’. So what is good enough? The psalm tells us that, too!

“The world you made firm, not to be moved;
your throne has stood firm from of old.
from all eternity, O Lord, you are.

The waters have lifted up, O Lord,
the waters have lifted up their voice,
the waters have lifted up their thunder.

Greater than the roar of mighty waters,
more glorious than the surging of the sea,
the Lord is glorious on high.

Truly your decrees are to be trusted.
Holiness is fitting to your house,
O Lord, until the end of time.”

Psalm 93

The natural world glorifies God through its being. By being what it is and, therefore, doing what it does, nature glorifies the God who created it and delights in it. Waters roar and thunder, birds sing, flowers bloom and blossom, and so on. These expressions of being, by the created things in nature, glorify God.This is further illustrated in the book of Daniel (3:57-88) as it exhorts all of creation to “Praise and exalt Him above all forever.”

We see there is something good in the praises that nature gives to God by simply being what it is and doing what it naturally does—expressing the reality of its being and its nature as God created it. And that’s true for human beings, too. 

St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Mankind works, creates, thinks, laughs, enjoys leisure, and loves. These things, when rightly ordered, glorify God who created us. And yet the psalm rightly tells us that these things aren’t enough. Because God is greater than our praises can ever be.

“Greater than the roar of mighty waters, more glorious than the surging of the sea, the Lord is glorious on high.” So how can we give God the praise that is fitting to him?

How do we human beings appropriately and reverently give glory to God if our praises fall short of his greatness? We do it by living holy lives. And holiness is the fruit of living what the psalm calls ‘God’s trustworthy decrees’—the law, the commandments, the Gospel, and, by extension, the teachings of his Church.

His fatherly love and affection for his creatures—especially for man—demonstrate God’s greatness. Which is why “truly [his] decrees are to be trusted.” A God so great would never deceive us or misguide us. What he hands down to us is to be trusted because it makes us whole and complete and orients us to our excellence. His decrees—the law, the Commandments, the Gospel—are always to be trusted. 

And what does the psalm tell us immediately after saying that we can trust God’s decrees? It gives us the key to glorifying God appropriately and reverently? Here’s the bombshell:  

“Holiness is fitting to your house, O Lord!”

Holiness is what’s most fitting to God. Holiness is the fruit of living our lives by God’s trustworthy decrees. God is greater than our praises, but holiness is more fitting than praise alone because God is holy. Living holy lives elevates our being. It lifts us above the natural world, and our fallen human nature. Holiness orients us to our true nature, which gets obscured by sin. Our praises alone are merely natural acts. Even the natural world can “praise” God in its own way. But holiness goes above and beyond nature and mirrors, even if on a smaller level, the greatness of God.

God’s greatness and glory are exhibited in the greatness of his creations. When they exist and live as he created them to, God’s creation glorifies him. But as great as they and we are, they’re far beneath the greatness of God. If holiness is most fitting to God’s greatness and glory, then living holy lives is indispensable if we hope to give God the praise and glory due to him and that he expects from us. 

Though praising God with our voices and by being “fully alive” glorifies God and has merit, they aren’t enough. Because human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, we are set apart from the rest of the created order. God made us for holiness. Praise alone is not the most fitting to the greatness and glory of God. Holiness is the most fitting. Let each and all of us achieve that by living our lives in accord with God’s trustworthy decrees.

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