I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together! – Psalm 34:1-3

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him. – Exodus 15:1-2

The Scriptures often speak of magnifying the Lord or magnifying his glory. I used to think of magnifying something as making it look bigger. I have a different understanding now. Magnifying something is actually focusing greater attention on a smaller part than the whole.

Imagine you are on vacation and hiking in the mountains. You come upon a large meadow and across the meadow, you see what appears to be a deer. You want to get a better look, so you take out your binoculars and look more closely. Notice that when you look through your binoculars, you cannot see the entire meadow, but you can see the deer in much greater detail. So, when you magnify something you cannot see its whole, but you see some part in greater detail.

Now, back to magnifying the Lord.

When we magnify the Lord, we are, by definition, not seeing God in his whole, but we are focussing in on some dimension of God, or in another way of describing it, we are magnifying some aspect of God’s glory.

The outshining of his many perfections

God’s glory is the outshining of his many perfections. His glory is often referred to as light. In the Old Testament, God appeared over the mercy seat in the tabernacle as a shining light. When God made the covenant with Abraham, he traversed between the parts of the covenant sacrifice as a burning light. When the children of Israel were wandering the Sinai, God led them with a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of smoke during the daytime. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says God dwells in unapproachable light. These are all, I believe, manifestations of his glory.

The rainbow is white light broken

When the sun shines through water droplets in the sky, the droplets act as a prism and break down the white light into its component colors. When we are fortunate to view this, we see a rainbow. Its a beautiful thing. God made this part of creation to tell the gospel story.

The light of God’s glory can only be beheld when it is broken. Jesus is the light that lights everyman, but we have a hard time seeing the light. The light was broken for us through the incarnation of Christ and his death and resurrection. This is the most extreme demonstration of God’s glory. Here, we see in bold relief both God’s covenant faithfulness in judgment and mercy in one picture. It was with joy that Christ went to the cross because he was looking forward to the fulfilling of the covenant of redemption. From the cross came justice by Christ taking the punishment for the sins of everyone who would believe God and demonstrating the justice of God on sin for all who will not believe God.

The cross event magnifies the glory of God by focusing us on both his infinite mercy and his infinite justice in one act.