Psalm 51: Appealing to God's Glory
You're always in a safe place when you're appealing to God's glory. This is exactly what David does in Psalm 51:18,19; "In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem." Why? "Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar." David is essentially saying, "God bless your people because if you do, they'll live for your glory." This is what all truly biblical prayer will do. Now, we often reduce prayer to a laundry list of self-focused needs in which we ask God to exercise his power for the sake of our comfort or for the purpose of self-glory. You know the requests:
God give me wisdom at work (so I can make more money and acquire more power).
God alleviate my financial woes (so I have more money to spend on the pleasure and possessions that will make me happy).
God help my daughter to be more respectful (so that my evenings will be more peaceful so I can get the things done that I want to get done).
God work in the life of my husband (so I can finally experience the marriage of my dreams).
God give me a better relationship with my neighbor (so he will like me enough to make his dog quit trampling my flower beds).
God please heal my body (so that I can do the physical things that I love to do).
So much of our prayer has nothing to do with the glory of God. Regrettably, in much of our prayer we're actually asking God to endorse our pursuit of a whole catalog of self-focused false glories. For God to be willing to do that would not only mean a denial of who he is, but it will also mean our destruction.
But perhaps you're thinking, "Paul, it doesn't seem loving for God to be so focused on his own glory. How does it help me to have God's zeal for his own glory be greater than his zeal for anything else?" This is a very good question and worthy of an answer.
First, don't fall into evaluating the character of God as you'd evaluate the character of a human being. God is not a man and cannot be judged by the standards that he's set for human beings. For a human to be obsessed by his own glory would be a horrendous spirit of pride and self-aggrandizement. But not so with God. He's a being of a different kind. He's in a position unparalleled in the universe. To judge God by the laws he's set for people is like judging a poodle by goldfish standards. They are different kinds of creatures. The goldfish was designed to live under water. If you attempt to apply that standard to your poodle, it will drown quickly!
So, it is right, good, and beneficial for God to find his greatest pleasure in his own glory simply because he is God. It's important for you to understand the logic of what you have just read. If God were to deny his own glory, he would by that act cease to be God. To be God, he must be above and beyond every created thing. Willingness to subjugate himself to anything other than himself would cause him to no longer be Lord over all. God's zeal for his glory really is the hope of the universe. You see, the hope of everything that's been created is that the pure, holy, wise and good plan of God would finally and ultimately win. This is the only way in which all that's been broken by sin will someday be restored. If God would forsake his glory (and therefore, his glorious purposes) all of his promises would have less value than the paper on which they were printed and the hopes for salvation of every sinner would be dashed. You see, in delighting in his own glory, calling us to live for his glory, and enabling us to do so, God frees us from our self-destructive addiction to self-glory and the endless catalog of false glories that comes with it.
So, God's unshakable commitment to his own glory is the most loving thing he could ever do for us. It's what redeems us from us and breaks our bondage to all the things in life that we wrongly think will give us life, but only lead to emptiness and ultimately death.
So when you pray, appeal to God's glory as David did. When you do this you're not only submitting your heart to God, but you're asking him to love you with the kind of liberating love that only he can give you. Each time you pray this way you celebrate your freedom as a child of God, and you grow in your ability to recognize the difference between GLORY and glory.