We see the first petition in the Lord’s prayer, hallowed be your name. This shows priority in prayer. When we come to God on the basis of God being a loving Father who adopted us as his children, when we understand the implications of the miracle, significance and cost of adoption, then our natural response is to hallow God’s name.
Hallowed means to treat something sacred or holy. It is an old english word used in phrases like hallowed halls or grounds, meaning sacred, ancient or revered halls or grounds. It means to revere, glorify and magnify God. It is a language of praise. The priority in prayer is not our needs but the hallowing of his name. You don’t come to God as source of all good things but firstly as Sacred over all things. There is a sense of awe and wonder before God. The following song lyrics capture this theme well.
You are beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom, who can fathom the depths of Your love
You are beautiful beyond description, Majesty, enthroned above
And I stand, I stand in awe of You, I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of You
We not only say may your name be hallowed but its also a personal reflection of our heart which says, I hallow your name, I adore you as my Father. How do we adore God? How do we hallow his name? We will see three aspects to adore God from Psalm 63 which logically builds on each other.
Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
David is in a situation in life where he is threatened by his enemies, hunted down and in danger, hiding in wilderness and is praying in the midst of it. And he says in v.2 that he looked upon God in the sanctuary, beholding God’s power and glory.
What is to behold? It means to gaze, to see and perceive to pay attention and be captivated by something.
Beholding is more than seeing. Jesus warns in Matthew 13:13 that you will see but not perceive. It is more than just seeing but to be fascinated with, captured by and meditating on the words and works of God.
Beholding is intentional and purposeful. In Psalm 16:8, the Psalmist says, I have set the Lord before me always. We behold when we intentionally read God’s word, sing his praise, listen to his word preached, meditate on his word. We behold when we let it sink into our heart, mind and soul.
Beholding is receiving his grace. John 14:14 says, And the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen (behold) his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth 16 for from his fulness we have received grace upon grace. When we behold God, we receive his grace and love.
Beholding is letting God transform us. 2 Cor 3:18 says, And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. As we behold the face of God, we are transformed into his image.
Beholding God is not a means to something else, rather it is the end. We behold God for who he is. We savour, cherish, praise, worship and adore him for who he is. Religious people pray while gospel shaped people adore by beholding God. Religious people come to God for something they want but gospel shaped people come to God because they want God himself.
Reason why we don’t sense God’s love in our hearts, why our fears are not gone, why we worry, not transformed and feel guilty or condemned is because we don’t spend time adoring God.
Jesus teaches us, this is how we pray, Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name!
Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
David is treasuring God saying your steadfast love is better than life itself. It is only when we behold him, we begin to treasure him.
When a Jeweller comes across a rare collection of gems, he first takes time to look, observe, analyse and pay close attention to the details of these gems. It is only when he beholds it, he then begins to appraise its value. He begins to treasure it. When you behold, you being to see the worth and value, leading to treasuring and admiring.
Psalmist compares his life, his kingdom, power and victories along with his current situation where his is starving, famished, exhausted and he concludes that God’s love is better than his victories or his sorrows. He is gazing into the steadfast love of God. The Hebrew word is Chesed meaning loyal love or loving kindness. It is the gracious, undeserved, unconditional love of God. And David concludes that nothing in his life, even his greatest pain and suffering can be compared to the rich love of God. God’s steadfast love is better than life itself.
Beholding leads to treasuring and treasuring leads to adoring. You look at God and you say, nothing else is more important than you, nothing else compares to your love, not even my requests and what I desperately want in life. Nothing is more precious, neither silver nor gold. I’d rather have Jesus than anything else. There is nothing greater than knowing Jesus. You’re my all, you’re the best, you’re my joy and my righteousness.
You adore what you treasure and you treasure what you behold. What does your heart adore? What does your heart treasure? The reason why we get disappointed in prayer is because we treasure something else other than God. The reason why we get upset, bitter and angry with God because of unanswered prayers is because our heart treasures something else. God invites us to treasure him above all things.
How do you adore God? You adore God by beholding, treasuring and lastly by rejoicing.
Psalm 63:5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.
It is only when you behold, you begin to treasure and that leads to rejoicing. You begin to sense God’s love, peace and joy. God is no longer an abstract theological concept but someone personal. He is longer someone useful but he is beautiful. He is not just the source but my satisfaction.
CS Lewis in his book Reflections on the Psalms asks himself this question, Why does God want us to praise him? He finds this a strange thing that God would constantly command us to praise him in scripture. He says, “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows in praise. Lovers praise their beloved. Readers praise their favourite books. Hikers praise the scenery. Sports fans praise their teams. Stamp collectors praise rare stamps. You hear people praising weather, wine, food, actors, cars, horses, colleges, children, and mountains.” He says he also realised that not only do people spontaneously praise the thing they enjoy, they just as spontaneously urge other people to join them in praising it. Why? When we really enjoy something and think it’s wonderful, why do we spontaneously praise it and tell other people how wonderful it is? His observation is, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy, because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment”
This is why God invites us to hallow, adore and praise him, it completes our joy. We not only praise him but in praising him we enjoy God. It enhances our joy.
In this passage, David was particularly beholding, treasuring and rejoicing in Chesed, the loyal love of God. David had limited understanding of what this love meant. But we have seen Chesed personified in Christ.
Rom 8:32 says, God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us. That is loyal love. The reason King David was not abandoned and the reason we will never be abandoned is because there was another king who was abandoned, driven out and crucified outside the gates. It was king Jesus.
He got what you and I deserved and we got what he alone deserved, honour and acceptance.
He was abandoned so God will never abandon you. Does his love move your heart? Can you compare anything to his love? Do you treasure this love? Does it fill you with hope and joy?
No matter what situation you are in life, any uncertainty, worry, shattered dreams, failures, struggles, pain or suffering, will you hallow his name? Come let us adore him and enjoy him so we can be satisfied, refreshed, renewed and filled with inexpressible joy and unimaginable peace.