When I was a kid, my dad was concerned by my lack of musical education and taste. So, beyond trying to educate me in the music of the king, Elvis Presley, he exposed me to the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Though I tried to act as if I despised that music, I secretly liked it and continue to listen to Bach to this day.
One of the notable things that Bach always did—whether writing a religious music composition such as “St. Matthew’s Passion” or a “secular” musical piece like “The Coffee Cantata”—was to sign his works with the three letters “SDG,” which stood for soli Deo gloria, or “to God alone be glory.”
Those three letters, SDG, find one of their counterparts at the end of Romans 11. As Paul surveys the entirety of God’s purpose and plan of salvation, and especially as he wonders at the now-revealed mystery of Jew and Gentile together in “all Israel” that will be saved (11:26), he cannot help but burst into praise and attempt to give some account, some measure, of God’s glory.
Paul shouts first: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” (v. 33a). One might try to fathom the bottom of a deep well or an ocean, but it is very difficult. Here is a bottomless depth—the wisdom and knowledge of God in His plan, design, and work of redemption.
The Apostle shouts again: “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (v. 33b). Here is matter far beyond human thought or conception. God’s judgments, His decisions, and His ways that brought about salvation for His people were higher than any of us can conceive.
After all, who would have thought that God would send His eternal Son to become man? Who would have thought that He would allow His Son to suffer the humiliations of life on this earth? Who would have conceived that He would allow His Son to die a sinner’s death on the cross and remain under the power of death for a time? Who would have known that God would raise His Son from the dead, vindicating Him before the world as His only Son? Who would have believed that God’s own Son would return to heaven to await the end of all things and the regeneration of the world? All of this is too high for us—it is gloriously beyond us.
As a result, we exclaim alongside Paul how vast, how thoroughgoing, how all-encompassing is God’s glory: “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36a). Our God is the source of all things, the agent of all things, the goal of all things. All creation, all His works of providence, and especially His work of redemption redound to His praise.
So when the history of the world is written, we shall find God’s final signature: “SDG.” To God alone be glory forever, indeed.