Jonathan Edwards, widely regarded as one of the most significant Protestant thinkers of the past three hundred years, is known for his emphasis on the glory of God. In his book The End for which God Created the World, Edwards observes that God’s pursuit of His own glory is not contrary to our happiness. In fact, by seeking to display the fullness of His glory, the Lord is at the same time seeking our joy.
How can this be the case? Since the highest aim of our God is to reveal His glory—He does all things for the sake of His name and will share His inherent divine glory with no one else (Isa. 48:9–11)—then His glory must be the highest good possible. After all, what else would the perfectly good Creator place first besides the greatest good? But if God’s glory is the highest good possible, then we will find our greatest joy in the revelation and proclamation of that glory, for there is nothing greater in existence than His glory and therefore nothing that could bring us greater joy.
Today’s passage demonstrates the connection between the glory of God and our joy. The psalmist calls for the people of God to glory in His holy name, to revel in the revelation of His holy character, and to understand the goodness and beauty of the Lord. This exhortation goes hand in hand with the psalmist’s call for those who seek the Creator to rejoice (Ps. 105:3). We seek the Lord as we glory in His name, and as we glory in His name we find ourselves rejoicing, for seeking the glory of God is the very purpose for which we were made. As Isaiah 43:1–7 explains, the people of God were made by Him for the sake of His glory.
Because we who believe in Christ alone for salvation are the people of God, we also have assurance that He is able to establish us as blameless in the presence of His glory with great joy (Jude 24). Our Lord will certainly be glorified, and He will be glorified in His wrath and in His salvation. For those who do not know God in Christ, the revelation of His glory will be a day of doom, not a day of great joy (Ezek. 30:3). But for those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, it will be a day of unsurpassed joy.
To seek the glory of God, therefore, is not contrary to our joy. In the end, when we deny ourselves for the sake of the Lord’s glory, we are not giving up anything at all. For we will experience the fullness of eternal joy in His glorious presence.