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What did God mean when He said, “I will not give my glory to another” in Isaiah 48:11?

I will not give my glory to another

There are a number of passages in the Bible where God announces His purpose for what He is doing. Perhaps the most succinct of those references is Isaiah 48:11, where God declares that “for My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another” (NKJV).

Some have referred to this as God’s doxological purpose, or God’s purpose to demonstrate His own glory. It is evident that everything God does is for the demonstration or expression of His own glory. In Ephesians 1, for example, Paul explains why God provides salvation: the Father predestines, the Son redeems, and the Spirit seals, all for the praise of His glory and the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). David explains that God created the heavens as a declaration of His glory (Psalm 19:1). God is glorified by the salvation of Israel (Isaiah 60:21) and by the mercy He has shown to the Gentiles (Romans 15:9). Jesus glorified the Father (John 17:4), the Father glorified Jesus (John 17:5), and the Spirit glorifies the Son as well (John 16:14). God is glorified when Jesus’ disciples bear much fruit (John 15:8). The beasts of the field glorify God (Isaiah 43:20). God will glorify Himself in the culmination of all things (Ezekiel 39:13). One day Jesus will return and be glorified among the people (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Ultimately, because God has bought us, we are to glorify God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). In all these ways (and many more), God will be glorified, and He said, “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11).

God’s glory—His magnitude or worthiness—is great, and it belongs to Him. He expresses His muchness (to borrow a term from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) in His handiwork, and because these things are the expression of His own character, the praise and glory are due Him. Any of His created beings that seek to praise themselves are seeking to steal from God what is rightfully His. This is why God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)—because God has said, “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11).

God will not allow another to take credit for His character or handiwork. In similar fashion, the work of a renowned artist is recognizable as the work of that artist, and attempts to copy that work are considered forgeries. Just as we acknowledge copyrights or the ownership of one’s intellectual property, we must acknowledge that God is the sovereign Creator and Owner of everything. His revealed purpose is the demonstration of His own character and magnitude (glory).

Because God has said, “My glory I will not give to another,” human responsibility includes walking humbly before our God (Micah 6:8). This is why Solomon refers to the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)—we need the proper perspective of God, recognizing He is the fearsome Creator who has communicated graciously with His creation. Then we can begin to understand His design and purpose in our own lives, and we can understand what He desires from us. If we begin by exalting the Lord and recognizing our relative lowliness, we can begin to see from His perspective as He has revealed it to us in Scripture, and we can avoid the error of trying to take for ourselves that which belongs only to Him. He has said, “I will not give my glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11).

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Questions about Isaiah

What did God mean when He said, “I will not give my glory to another” in Isaiah 48:11?
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This page last updated: September 26, 2022