October 12, 2009 Ration

I Kings 5:5

“And so I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for My name.’”

There can be a great difference in meaning between building something “for God” and building something “for God’s name.” The first can imply that we would give God something that He doesn’t already have, while the second lifts up something with the aim of pointing to God’s sufficiency for us. Both “for God” and “for God’s name” can be used to say the same thing, but do we mean the same thing when we use them? What do we intend, artists?

God is not in need of anything. He is the giver of everything. “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest? All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 66:1-2a). When Solomon says, “I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God,” it is clear that the house is meant to testify to the greatness of God’s name, not contribute to God’s greatness.

Artists, when we say things like “ for God’s glory” are we meaning: “to attest to God’s sufficiency,” or are we trying to add something to God’s worth? Or do we maybe say “for God’s glory” because it is common Christian vernacular and we really don’t know what we mean by it, we just know that we should probably say it? I find it helpful to hear Solomon say that he is building an amazing, majestic house “for the name of the Lord” so that when people see the glory of his work, they might better understand the glory of the Lord that he has seen. This gives clarity to why he builds.

What do we really intend when we set out to build our works of art “for the glory of God”? Are we trying to add to God’s worth, or attest to it? If we are trying to add to God, or are hoping to better present ourselves to God as though we have enriched Him by our great works, we are deceiving ourselves and are not testifying to His great sufficiency at all. But if, from experiencing the greatness of His power, we must create something to convey how magnificent we have seen God to be, is that not what “for the glory of God” means?

It seems that more often than not, we do not know what we mean when we say “for the glory of God,” because we evidence very little enjoyment of God’s complete power, genius, beauty, and sufficiency within our work, or our presentation of it.

David says before all the assembly, “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building You a house for Your holy name comes from Your hand and is all Your own. I know, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen Your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to You. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of Your people, and direct their hearts toward You” (I Chronicles 29:16-18).

Artists, let us also intend, like Solomon and David, to work such that the name of the Lord, that is, who He is, would be clear in our artistry. God is fully sufficient, and we are recipients of His all sufficiency. God’s sufficiency is so glorious that we must attest to it. Therefore, we must create for the name of the Lord our God.

Jason Harms


© 2009 The Gaius Project