“I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” —Psalm 34:1-3 KJV
By Timothy P. Hadley
Magnify means to make large, praise, honor, boast about, lift up, promote and declare great. So what does it mean to “magnify the LORD”? How can we make God large?
Consider two different ways to view the word “magnify.” One is to compare it to a microscope, which makes a tiny object appear larger. The other comparison is to a telescope, which takes what is far away and extremely large and brings it near. A life that magnifies the Lord does just that; it is a life that brings God near to those with whom it comes in contact.
The Life Of The Lord Jesus
That is exactly what the Lord Jesus did. His was the perfect life that glorified and magnified God. In Psalm 69 we read of the inner feelings and sufferings of the Lord Jesus (vv.2-4,7-12,20-21). We also see what such a life accomplishes for the glory of God, when the psalm prophetically speaks of the Lord: “I will praise the name of God with a song, and I will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (v.30).
In Hebrews 10:5 we see that the Lord Jesus was the instrument that God used to bring Himself near to us. We read: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me” (NKJV). This is quoted from Psalm 40, a psalm that speaks of the Lord as the burnt offering. It goes on in verse 16 by declaring, “Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified!’” This is what the life of the Lord Jesus did. He glorified God in every way, and in doing so He brought God near to us.
Scripture says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory … full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1,14). In John 14:9, the Lord Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” He magnified God, being “God … manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). The Lord brought God near to us that we might behold His greatness.
Our lives ought to magnify God as well. I believe Scripture teaches us that our entire being – body, soul and spirit – ought to magnify God. Consider Mary’s declaration: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk. 1:46). The soul is the seat of our emotions, so her innermost being wanted to magnify her God. John the Baptist had the same desire when he said of the Lord Jesus, ”He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).
This should be our ambition too, through our body as well as emotions. Paul said, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). He also urged, “I beseech you … brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Examples of such a life are found in Daniel 1:8 and 3:28. The individuals there purposed in their hearts to live for God only; they would not bow down to any other. In a very practical way, their lives brought God near for all to see!
Paul was willing for his life to bring glory to God. In fact, he desired to magnify the Lord in life and death. Read what he wrote to the believers at Philippi: “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith” (Phil. 1:20-25). Paul wanted to go to be with Christ, but he also wanted the saints to grow in their spiritual walk with God. It was his desire that their lives would bear fruit for the glory of God and their faith would be full of the joy which comes from living for Christ. Therefore, whether by death or by life, he desired to magnify, or bring, Christ near to them!
At the end of his life Paul truthfully said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Paul magnified Christ.
Oh that our lives would bring God near to those we touch. Instead of seeing us, may they see Him whom we desire to magnify!