“For my own sake”

Tom Schreiner, in the interview about his NT Theology, spoke about the criticism of the view that God is about bringing glory to himself. John Piper has written about this as well, specifically in his books The Pleasures of God and God’s Passion for His Glory. It stands to reason that they both hold to this view, since Schreiner attended Bethlehem Baptist for eleven years while he was a professor at Bethel Seminary.

What I would like to do is, from time to time, have a running commentary from Scripture of passages that indicate that this is what Scripture states. I will start today with part of the passage I read in my morning devotions, 2 Kings 19. This section of Scripture concerns the attack by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, on Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah. When Hezekiah heard of the taunts from Rabshakeh, the Assyrian general (1 Kings 18), he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord to pray (19:1). His prayer ended with this statement: “So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.” Throughout the rest of the chapter Isaiah responds with the word of the LORD, stating that the Assyrians will not come into Jerusalem, but will be miraculously defeated (see 19:35-37).

God states the reason for this defeat in 19:34, “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” I believe that both of these statements testify that God is first and foremost concerned about glorifying his own name. The first statement, for my own sake, makes this point more clearly than the second. God does not say that he defends the city to save his people, even though he probably does. He does not say that he will save the city in response to the prayer of Hezekiah, even though he has heard and is answering his prayer (19:20-21). He is defending the city for his own sake, that he might get the credit for bringing glory to his name in the face of an enemy who defied and denied his name (18:22, 30-35). Even his statement about saving the city for the sake of his servant David comes back to glorifying his own name. He made a covenant promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. His name would be defiled if he did not keep his promise. His power and ability would be besmirched if he did not keep his promise to David. So God states that his defense of the city is for his own glory. Since he is God, he should be about magnifying his own name. Schreiner, Piper and Jonathan Edwards say it much better than I, but briefly that is what I see here.  We will continue to consider this in future posts.

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