What’s So Great about God’s Greatness?*
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3
The word great has lost its greatness. Overuse and misuse have toppled it. Dethroned and disgraced, it’s been relegated to the Most Unwanted Adjectives posters taped to the walls of English classrooms across the country.
Dictionary.com lists twenty-four definitions and provides hundreds of synonyms for this once majestic, mighty adjective. But its uses have become so diverse and diluted, that it might as well ask a, an, and the if it can be an article.
For example, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China are so named because of their size. Dickens titled one of his novels Great Expectations because the main character had lofty but unreachable aspirations. Comedic actor Jackie Gleason was crowned “The Great One” for his ability to dominate a stage and his appetite for a luxurious lifestyle; boxer Muhammed Ali acquired Gleason’s title because of his athletic dexterity and inflated ego.
So when we sing songs like “How Great Thou Art,” what exactly do we mean? God’s big? Unreachable? Talented? Dominating? That hymn’s lyrics, translated into English by Stuart Hine, praise God’s creative genius and His redemptive grace. But is that the extent of God’s greatness?
The Hebrew word for great comes from a root word that means “to twist together.”** It refers to the strength of a rope composed of many threads twisted together—the more threads, the stronger the rope.
The longer I reflected on this concept of greatness, the more appropriate it seemed as a description of God. A powerful God is good. A loving God is good. Twist power and love together and you begin to understand His greatness. As I mentally entwined the threads of God’s character, the splendor of His greatness increased: justice and forgiveness, righteousness and compassion, strength and tenderness.
No wonder the psalmist exclaimed, “His greatness in unsearchable.” The greatness of God extends way beyond immensity, intensity, or diversity. It’s bound up in the infinite complexity of His nature.
Meditating on God’s greatness motivated David to write, “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever . . . On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate” (Psalm 145:2,5 NASB). Are we praising His name today? Are we meditating on His wonderful works?
Read Psalm 145. What manifestations of God’s greatness does David mention? What evidence of His greatness have you seen lately? Have you told anyone about those “mighty acts” (v. 4)?
Exodus 15:1-18 is the first hymn recorded in the Bible. What aspects of God’s greatness does Moses praise in it? What song of praise can you sing to God today?
Read Ephesians 2:4-7. What does Paul use as evidence of God’s “great love” for us? What should be our response to that great love according to verse 10?
Denise K. Loock
*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal Again: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at http://tinyurl.com/cnf699n
**Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for gadal (Strong’s 1431)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 7 Jun 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=H1431&t=KJV&page=3 >