I’ve been absorbing the Psalms this summer and loving it! This morning I came across a passage in Psalm 106 that really struck me:
19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. 20 Thus they exchanged their glory for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt. Psalm 106:19-21
You might be wondering what it was about that passage that jumped out at me. Since it’s easy to miss, allow me to share with you my thoughts. Obviously this is a reference to the nation of Israel not long after they had been delivered from the hand of Pharaoh. The phrase that caught my attention was “their glory“. They exchanged their glory for…
So in context, there were certain Israelites who, once out of Egypt, completely turned aside from everything they had seen and all they had experienced. They forgot how the Lord had sent one plague after another upon the Egyptians that never once touched them, they forgot how He opened up the waters and gave them dry land to cross over when the Egyptian army was closing in, and they forgot the Holy Spirit’s leading them using a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
Reading it from my own perspective in the here and now, my thoughts were “what were they thinking“?!! In an attempt to put myself in their shoes, I could imagine they had no paradigm for living in the desert, having left behind all of the comforts they had grown accustomed to even though they had lived as slaves. Moses had trekked up the mountainside and they had not heard from him or seen him for days. Perhaps they felt abandoned and, not yet being accustomed to this “new” God or His ways, turned to what they already knew.
But COME ON! This “new” God, the God of Israel (who was not new but merely had been forgotten), was ALIVE! More than just a molten image, He was living! He was miraculous, powerful, providing, caring, and He actually SPOKE to Moses in their presence. I cannot help but scratch my head over that one and wonder why anyone would want to exchange the GLORY of God for the so-called glory of a molten calf “pretend” god.
This isn’t the only thing that struck me about this phrase, however. Gaining new insight, for the first time I realized that this exchange of glory could also represent the glory of God that rests upon us when we are in fellowship with Him. In other words, our purpose – what we were created for, what we are called to do. It reminds me of this verse:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you". Isaiah 60:1
Why would we ever want to throw away our glory?
Look at this verse from Luke:
34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap” Luke 21:34
I’ve always found the word “dissipation” an interesting one. The dictionary defines dissipation as “a wasting by misuse”, [such as] the dissipation of a fortune”, or “mental distraction; amusement; diversion”. In terms of physics/mechanics, it goes on to define dissipation as “a process in which energy is used or lost without accomplishing useful work”. Wow talk about a waste of energy – that last part says it all! Essentially dissipation then becomes anything or everything outside of God Himself, allowing the opportunity to self-medicate in order to escape outward circumstances or pressures rather than facing and courageously embracing reality through the strength of the Holy Spirit. It’s running from the opportunity to receive the blessing and promises given by Jesus to those who “overcome” (see Revelation chapters 1-3).
Not only that, but because we have been engineered – designed and created for a specific purpose, whenever we live a life outside of God, then whatever we do and whatever “glory” we may receive from this world is not only fleeting but could never compare to the eternal life and eternal glory that are ours through Him.
The choice is ours. Will you choose to give away your glory? By God’s grace, I pray that none of us will.