Thursday, November 09, 2023

Two Glories

It’ll soon be Sunday again.

Time to go and meet with the Lord’s people and think about him.

That’s good work, really. It’s just about the best thing we really ever do. The works we do here on earth end when the Lord returns. But some things continue into eternity. Paramount among those things is worship. It’s one of the few things we do that lasts forever. I think that makes it worth getting up for.

Getting Ready

And while we’re getting ourselves prepared for that, maybe we should think about the Lord. Why else would we bother to go and meet with people who are really pretty different from us in age, experience, background, inclinations, temperament, social position — and even language and culture sometimes? What have we in common?

Only Christ. But that’s plenty.

Let me see if I can offer you two new ways of looking at him. I call them “the glory of the Beloved” and “the glory of Mephibosheth”. Never worry about the language, there; just call them what you like. But I think they’re worth considering.

The Glory of the Beloved

The first is something maybe a little more obvious. That is, that the Lord draws worship from glorious places. The highest angels in heaven worship him, and the greatest among mankind also bow the knee in his honor.

That shows him to be great.

When the high, the pure, the lovely, the accomplished and the admired seek out and pay tribute to someone, they show him to be very high indeed! By their admiration, they pour the glory of their beauties and achievements onto him. For if people as great as this pay tribute, then the one to whom they pay tribute must be even greater — unspeakably great!

And it reminds me of a conversation I had with a pal of mine. He was saying that he thought that choice must be an essential part of love — especially of God’s love.

I agreed with him. Choice and love are strongly linked. A love relationship cannot be formed without the element of choosing.

I said to my friend, “Remember when you married your wife? I remember, because I was there. She didn’t marry you because you forced her to do so. You didn’t say to her, ‘The reason I’m marrying you today is that your father and I swung a bargain, and it’s good that you knuckled under and did what you were told.’ Rather, as you had freely chosen her, so she in return freely chose you. The fact that she did was a huge compliment to you; her choice of you showed that she saw value in you that some of us were not positioned to see. But she could have chosen otherwise; and if she could not have, then that compliment would not have been there.”

There’s glory in that. It comes when the most beautiful kind of person has uniquely focused her love on a particular person and declared the beloved altogether lovely.

That’s the glory of the Beloved … to be known as the object of love and esteem by one who is also highly esteemed and lovely. That’s the glory of the song of angels, of the Song of Songs, and the glory of the Son of God in the Bride.

The Bride is entirely lovely; and she sings a song of devotion to her Beloved, who is far fairer than the very fairest.


The glory of the Beloved is the honor that comes to a person when someone truly exceptional has chosen them, and this is seen and celebrated.

Another Glory

But let us now go back in time, and to the Holy Land, to the royal period, and to its greatest king. Suppose you were invited to have dinner in the court of David, among his mighty men, the legendary warriors and the great elders of Israel.

As you enter his hall, you see long tables laid out with sumptuous delicacies, and David’s place at the far end. As you walk up the ranks ranged along the table you recognize Adino, whom they call “The Spear”, because he killed 800 at one time. And there’s Eleazar, who pounded on Israel’s enemies so long that afterward he needed help to pry the sword from his fingers. Oh, and over there is Shammah, who wouldn’t give even give up a field of beans to the enemy, and whose courage swung the whole tide of battle to Israel …

As you move up the ranks, you marvel; until you arrive at one quite unlike the others. He’s in a place of high honor, but you can’t see why. He’s skinny and pallid, like he hasn’t gotten outdoors much. His manner is whipped and his face is passive. Most startlingly, his legs are folded underneath him in a way that leaves you in no doubt at all — he’s a cripple. Normally, this sort ends up begging in the streets, not sitting at the king’s table.

“What is this?” you ask.

“Oh, this?” says your guide, “He’s a favorite, actually.”

“But he’s a cripple!” you exclaim, “He’s no use at all!”

“It’s worse than you think,” replies your guide. “He’s actually the grandson of the former king of Israel, David’s greatest enemy, who spent his life hunting David ruthlessly and sought to kill him. Not only that, he’s the only man in the kingdom with a legitimate claim on David’s throne. And some people are still probably loyal to that old king, and might even want to use him to unseat David. Yet he eats at David’s table all the time.”

“What?” you exclaim. “Why on earth would David want a cripple and an enemy at his table?”

“He loves him. He’s taken him from being a despised and hunted pretender-to-the-throne, and made him his dear friend. I know he doesn’t look like he fits in, and that maybe he belongs in the street; but I assure you, his presence here is the greatest testimony to the mercy, goodness and love of David that you’re ever going to see. Because you’re right: he doesn’t deserve any of it, and he’s not the kind of man you seek out for royal company. But he loves David fiercely now, with absolute loyalty.”

“I see,” you say. “That makes sense. He owes David everything.”

“Yes. So now you see what difference knowing a man like King David can make: he doesn’t just make great men out of warriors; he makes them out of rebels and street trash.”

That is the glory of Mephibosheth. It is honor that comes when a person who is entirely undeserving of love has been embraced. It asks us, “What manner of love is this, that such as this should be loved?”

Now that’s really a “new song”: not the kind you would ever think of by yourself. “Worthy are you … [for] you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God.” They weren’t that before, but now they are. And you, only you, O Lord, have done it.

Or to put it in hymnology:

“All these once were sinners, defiled in his sight,
Now arrayed in pure garments in praise they unite:

Unto him who has loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory forever, amen.”

All Glory

The glory of the Beloved belongs to Christ. Hallelujah.

The glory of Mephibosheth belongs to Christ.

Hallelujah, amen.

Photo: Wolfgang Moroder. Used under license.

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