Admiration, Psalm 29, and the Christian Celebrity Sub-Culture

I am writing this from a hotel room, in between days of the Catalyst conference. Catalyst is a great conference. After one day’s content, I am feeling inspired and convicted and energized and overwhelmed and excited. I am honored to be here.

In part, that’s because of the admiration I have for the people who have been on stage. They are amazing people that God has used in fantastic ways. It is wonderful to hear stories of their experiences and tidbits of their wisdom.

This admiration, though, comes with a risk: ascribing glory to the wrong place.

These leaders have become famous, at least in the Christian sub-culture. This can be dangerous for both them and us. Because once you have felt the spotlight, there is an allure to keep it. And once you have seen the spotlight, there is an allure to seek it.

Psalm 29 is a great reminder of where the glory belongs.

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. –Psalm 29:1-2

I love the word “ascribe.” In Hebrew, it’s “yahab” which could also be translated give, provide, or grant. All of those words contain intentionality.

Choose to give the Lord the glory.

Remember that these great works have been done through Him, by His strength and according to His purposes.

Know that the real splendor isn’t in the works of these people, but in the holy and amazing God from which those works were birthed.

It gets confusing sometimes when we appraise the work of humans. There is a divine mystery in the interplay between human will and God’s sovereignty and between human strength and God’s power. We are, in fact, playing a role.

When God acts through us, it can be both invigorating and exhausting. It is good to encourage each other, and give one another pats on the back for jobs well done.

The problem comes when we don’t recognize our wandering from encouragement to glorification.

This Psalm reminds us that glory belongs with God alone. To help us, it gives an example of something God is involved in that has nothing to do with human strength: a thunderstorm. The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, and we feel in our bones that what is happening is beyond the power of human beings.

It is the voice of the Lord.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. – Psalm 29:3-4, 7 

I am influenced by many human voices. But none of them compare to the power and majesty contained in the voice my God.

I can admire humans. And receive wisdom and inspiration from their voices. But in the midst of listening to them, I need to consciously ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name. I need to remember the real source of power and good in this world is the one who had the authority to create it in the first place.

This has been a great Psalm to be running through my thoughts today. I think tomorrow I will continue to repeat it in my head as I take notes with my hands:

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.