The saying goes, “Give credit where credit is due.” When it comes to receiving honor and glory, believers discover only One deserves all the credit: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1, NKJV).
Psalm 115 contrasts the superiority of the sovereign God of the universe with the impotent false gods and worthless human-made idols of pagan nations (verses 2–8). It was penned in an era when Israel’s enemies constantly insulted and mocked them. “Your name” in Psalm 115:1 refers to God’s essential character and nature, or His reputation—it stands for God Himself. “Glory” is a state of high honor. Thus, the psalmist opens worship with the bold assertion that everything God’s people are and all they accomplish should not be for their own benefit or credit but for God’s glory.
Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 inform us that God will not yield His glory to people or His praise to idols because all glory belongs to Him alone. God’s glory is unique: “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). God’s people are called to “declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” (1 Chronicles 16:24–28; see also Psalm 96:3–7).
The hypocritical Pharisees sought glory for themselves. They wanted to be seen by other people as righteous and receive honor from humans (Matthew 23:5; 6:16; John 5:44). But Jesus told us to practice our good deeds in secret: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:2–8).
The apostle Paul taught that our Christian service is to be motivated by a desire to please God and not by human praise (1 Thessalonians 2:4–6). Rather than seeking a name or reputation for ourselves, whatever we do should exalt God and be done for His glory (Psalm 34:3; 63:3; 86:12; Romans 15:6–7; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Psalm 115:1 further explains the reason that God’s glory should not be unto us but to the Lord alone: because of His steadfast love and faithfulness. In another psalm, David declared, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds” (Psalm 36:5, ESV). God’s loyalty is unlimited, and He loves us always; therefore, we must honor Him alone and not ourselves or any other person or thing.
Glory should not be unto us but given to God alone because “we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NLT). Humans are weak and prone to failure (1 Corinthians 1:25, 27–29; 2 Corinthians 12:5–10; Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 26:41). Idols are worthless (Habakkuk 2:18; Isaiah 40:18–20). The psalmist declared, “No pagan god is like you, O Lord. None can do what you do! All the nations you made will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your holy name. For you are great and perform wonderful deeds. You alone are God” (Psalm 86:8–10, NLT).
All credit, honor, praise, and glory should not be unto us but unto our great God because only He deserves it. Our God is the supreme, all-powerful Creator of the world (Acts 17:24–25). No one compares to the Mighty One whose name is full of power (Luke 1:49; Jeremiah 10:6). “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chronicles 16:25, NLT). Only the one true “King of glory” deserves to be enthroned in the place of high honor (see Psalm 24:10).