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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

I Chronicles 16:27, "Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place."

Psalm 96:6, "Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary."

This morning, our mind once again ponders the wondrous beauty of Scripture. Scripture, like nothing else, is not only divinely inspired but provides commentary on itself. The best way to know what the Scriptures mean by a certain thing is to look at the Scriptures as a whole. Since the harmony of the thought is interwoven through the entire book, the best commentary will always be the Book itself. One of my favourite things to do when studying the Bible is find parallel passages that define words for us, give further light into the thought under consideration and broaden the picture a little more. Consider the life of Jesus if one only Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John to reference. Many things about Him would be unknown, and John even tells us He did more than a world of books could contain. (John 21:25) But consider only having one gospel account. How much would we know and understand? Having four to reference back and forth, we have a more complete and broad picture as well as cross references to keep our ideas about a passage's teaching in check.

The verses above are a parallel passage, and indeed David's whole psalm of thanksgiving in I Chronicles 16 is paralleled in other places in the Bible. The first 15 verses (Verses 8-22) are also found in Psalm 105:1-15, and the next 11 verses (Verses 23-33) are found in Psalm 96:1-13. By going back and forth, we have words defined for us, a broader scope of thought in pictorial illustration, and a further balanced approach to exegete the passage. In our verse, David praises the LORD by giving some adjectives of His characteristics as well as His location. The adjectives used are: glory, honour, strength, and gladness OR honour, majesty, strength and beauty (the first set from Chronicles and the latter from Psalms).

By studying these two lists, we can easily see that glory and majesty equate to one another, and beauty and gladness do as well. The words are interchanged in the passages. Many times, we hear about different types of glory that this world has to offer. Paul even speaks about the glory of the terrestrial and the glory of the celestial in I Corinthians 15. Indeed, there are earthly glories that man can and does strive for, but these passages show that the glory that is the LORD'S is that of majesty. The word majesty brings connotations of kingship, lordliness, regal, and supreme. The glory that is His is not some contrivance of earthly gain, but rather, His glory is that of stately majesty that transcends the very universe as we cannot describe it nor yet behold it. Furthermore, gladness and beauty are together linked. Further still, they are linked not only to Him, but also to His place.

Gladness is - in another parallel passage - defined as joy. (Mark 4:16, Luke 8:13) So, if gladness is defined by the Bible itself as joy and beauty, we understand that what is under consideration is deeper than natural happiness, giddiness, or physical beauty. There are many forms of beauty just as there are many forms of glory, but the beauty under consideration springs from the deep well of joy that has its source in the implanting of the new creature by the Spirit of God. Without this planting, there is no joy, thereby no gladness or beauty (in this sense). Have you ever met people that possessed physical beauty or had natural contrivances (all that the world could possibly offer) yet had not the gladness that comes with joy? They act and seem as if life is just not right for them and nothing is ever good enough. While not trying to cast a deranging slur on the state of their heart (that is not our place or purpose), they are not exhibiting much beauty in that all the other naturally beautiful things are marred by the vexed outlook on life. Yet, others who have a more homely disposition with not much of the world's goods are some of the most beautiful in the world due to the gladness of their heart that stems from the joy deep within their soul.

Where do these four adjectives of honour, glory/majesty, strength, beauty/gladness come together? The first couple of adjectives are said to be in his presence/before him. The second set is said to be in his place/his sanctuary. From the language, it seems that the Psalmist is attributing a specific location as the manifest recipient of these deep tokens of God's personage. The LORD is everywhere present and nowhere absent, but not everywhere feels His glory, majesty, beauty, and gladness. Some places feel His judgment, severe wrath, and removal of kind providence. Yet, other places feel the smiles of the Father in radiance through the sunshine of the Son. That place is called His place or His sanctuary.

A sanctuary is known as a place of rest, refuge, safety, or holy reverence. This place is His. It is not to be handled lightly, for it belongs to Him. (Matthew 16:18) As it is His place, we need to understand that the items listed above that grace it come from Him. Where is strength in His sanctuary? It emanates from Him. Where is honour, majesty/glory, gladness/beauty? They emanate from Him. The glory of His bride (sanctuary) comes from Him, for these things are before Him or in His presence. Without Him, there is no sanctuary, for He is our hidingplace. (Psalm 91:1)

Therefore, if His sanctuary is where these things are found, let us draw nigh unto His place with a pure heart seeking His glory and strength, upholding His honour with gladness, and earnestly desiring to see more of His majesty and beauty. The occasion when David gives this grand exclamation is when they bring the ark of the covenant back again to Jerusalem. That object was a token, for the time then present, of God's covenant with His people in that He overshadowed his broken law with mercy (mercy seat above broken tables of stone), gave life to the lifeless (Aaron's rod that budded), and sustained them with daily bread (golden pot of manna). May we today rejoice in the abiding presence of our Ark as He comes to His sanctuary by His Spirit for bringing grace and mercy through His sacrifice unto us, giving dead alien sinners eternal life through Him, and continuing to keep us and sustain us until that day He delivers us up to the Father to be presented in spotless holiness and righteousness. To see their ark then, one had to go to Jerusalem. To see our Ark in this glorious fashion today, one must go to His place or sanctuary.

In Hope,

Bro Philip