“Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!”
Psalm 79:8-9 ESV
Reflecting back on a passage I read recently, I was struck by the tone of this passage, and how God’s redeeming work is done “for your [God’s] name’s sake!” When God comes to us and saves us, providing grace to us through the blood of His Son, it’s not so that we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “look how good I am”. It’s for His glory. Sure it’s a benefit to us—a benefit beyond measure, but it is to His glory because there’s no part of it that we have accomplished.
In this passage, Asaph, the writer expresses that they have no merit for which to be restored and forgiven, but it is for the glory of God’s name. From the beginning of the psalm he recounts many of their sins and their rebellion against God. And while he knows that God’s anger poured out against them is completely justified, he also had heard of God’s steadfast love, and his tenderness toward those who are truly repentant.
This is the basic message of the Bible. We are a needy, unruly, sinful, rebellious people with short memories about how we are to serve Him. He stands in contrast to us as a holy God, needing nothing from us; a God of steadfast love and righteousness, who in His love for us as His creation reaches out to us with mercy and grace through His Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile us to Himself.
It says something significant about God that He would, not out of necessity, but out of love, save us from our desperate condition. It is to His glory that He would do that for us. If there is any boast from us, it is that we serve a God who loves us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. He deserves the praise and glory because of who He is, and because of what He’s done for us.
His church, then, is not a gathering of great people who have come together to accomplish great things on their own. His church is a gathering of people who have recognized their own desperate condition, and have fallen heavily on the mercy and grace of God, who have now decided to bring glory to His Name through worship and service because of what He has done for them. As we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the feeble, but most importantly share the gospel, it should be for the glory of His Name, not for the notoriety of any church or group of people.
As our minds turn to thoughts of Thanksgiving, let us indeed be thankful and grateful for the gift of salvation given to unworthy people by a holy and benevolent God. Let us be thankful to Him for all that we have, for the glory of His Name.
By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Bruce Jacobsen