by Mark Herbster
The Glory of God
The word kavod(glory) in the Old Testament comes from a root verb which is translated as heavy, rich, honorable, or glorious. In I Samuel 4:18 the word is used to describe Eli as a heavy man. Also in II Samuel 14:26 the word describes Absalom’s hair as heavy. This meaning is rarely used in the OT. The noun taken from this verb is kavod (glory). It is translated as glory, glorious, honor, or honorable. By far the majority of uses translate the word glory.
The word very rarely carries the literal meaning to be heavy or weighty. It is more common to see the figurative use as in being heavy with sin. The word usually carries a negative connotation. “Generally speaking there are three groupings of figurative uses. The first would relate to parts of the body expressing slowness, dullness or implacability. The second relates to events or experiences describing their severity in terms of heaviness, and the third would express size or number in such terms” (TWOT, 426). Another general use of the figurative is more positive in character. In this case the word carries the idea of being weighty in the sense of being noteworthy or impressive. The character and reputation of the individual along with the abundance of possessions or the accomplishment of great heroic acts would make one weighty (glorious) in the eyes of other people. In the same sense God, who has the greatest character, and has done the greatest acts, is the essence of glory. In many instances God reveals the weightiness of his character in the temple and in the earth. This reference means more than just the reputation of God’s character. It is synonymous with God’s presence among us.
In the negative sense Isaiah 59:1 speaks of God’s ears not being heavy, that they cannot hear. Nehemiah 5:18 describes the second negative use, “the bondage was heavy.” Genesis 18:20 describes the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as very heavy. This boasts of the magnitude of their sin. In the positive sense Haman in Esther 5:11 “told them of the glory of his riches.” In Job 19:9 he says, “He hath stripped me of my glory.” Job is definitely referring to the possessions and health that make him a reputable person. In Exodus 16:10; 40:34 God fills the tabernacle with his presence. In I Samuel 4:21-22 the ark of God, which represented the presence of God, had been taken. So Eli’s daughter-in-law names her son “Ichabod, saying, the glory is departed from Israel.” Clearly she is referring to the presence of God departing. There are many references to the Glory of God as referring to the weight of His character and works. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 21:5 says, “His glory is great in salvation.” Dueteronomy 5:24 says, “The Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire.”
This study helps in the understanding of many verses of scripture. Take for instance I Chronicles 16:24,28-29. David is singing a song of praise and adoration to the Lord because the ark of God has been brought to the city of David. In verse 24 he says, “Declare His glory among the heathen.” We should follow David’s exhortation and be showing and speaking of God’s weightiness of character and action to the lost world around us. Not only should we declare his glory to others, but also we should devote glory to him ourselves. In verse 28-29 it says, “Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name.” Then he tells us how to give him the glory due unto his name. He says, “Bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him, all the earth.” How can we give God the weightiness and honor he deserves? We must sacrifice for him, worship him and fear him. This is what truly glorifies His name.