O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)
What a wonderful psalm, one to read often and to treasure in the heart. In it, the psalmist explores all the reasons why he does, can and should continually magnify the Lord. It’s a reminder of who God is, and how His interaction with us and His intervention in our lives brings us to the place of responsive praise.
We see the word ‘magnify’ over and over in the Bible – this was Mary’s spontaneous response to the visitation of the angel Gabriel: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord’ – and it’s usually used in two contexts: with God, specifically relating to His glory and magnificence, and with us, in the sense of us magnifying self and making ourselves bigger than we actually are.
This is where this wonderful word has become skewed. Our perception – no doubt thanks to literal thinking and our familiarity with that wonderful scientific tool, the microscope – is limited to ‘making something bigger than it actually is.’ The result is that we reduce God to the level of something that needs to be made ‘bigger than He actually is.’ We thus diminish God, diminish His sheer glory and majesty, magnificence and power, to the level of ourselves and the stuff of scientific discovery and leave His essential nature out of the equation.
We need to remember that the modern concept of magnification grew out of God and not the other way round. To grasp this we must look to the reason for magnification. It is to bring things into focus so that they can be seen clearly, and to the exclusion of all else. When we look through a microscope, we don’t see the laboratory, the company or the clutter. We focus totally and completely on what we’re looking at.
To magnify God, therefore, is to make Him the very centre of our focus. It means that we are to be the instruments whereby He is made visible to others and to ourselves. When our vision is focused on Him, we see nothing else. We see His nature, His grace, His mercy, His awesome, indescribably power and holiness. And when He is magnified, reduce self to it’s proper place: The one looking, rather than the one being looked at. Our focus is adjusted and our perspective restored to what God intended.
Why should we magnify Him? It reminds us of how small and insignificant we really are, and how omnipotent He is. It teaches us humility, which teaches us to turn to and rely only on Him. It encourages us through the focus on who He is and what He has done, so that our faith grows in relation to what we see and learn of Him. Most importantly, it reveals God to the world. Jesus said: ‘If I be lifted up I will draw all men…’ To magnify Him is to lift Him up, to reveal the truth of Him, to raise Him above the things of the world so that he may be clearly seen.
The ‘how’ of it is so incredibly simple: I remind myself and I respond. It’s as natural as breathing. When our focus is on the reality of God in all His breathtaking beauty and power, we cannot help but respond with praise and thanksgiving. If our focus is right, His praise will continually be in our mouth.
O, magnify the Lord with me. It is part of the very purpose of our existence.
Today, Lord, I praise You for who You are. I choose to put my focus on You, to lift you up and to magnify You in my life, in my choices, and in my surrender to Your perfect majesty. Help me to set self aside, to live a life of continual praise, so that You may be made manifest to a world that needs You above all things.