A Biblical doxology is a short segment of Scripture praising God and extolling His glory. Doxology means ‘word of glory.’ These articles will present popular doxologies in the Old and New Testament and elaborate upon their meaning. Hopefully, this understanding will improve our worship of God.
Doxologies appear within or at the end of Biblical epistles. The word ‘glory’ attributed to God is universally felt to be the essential qualifier for a Biblical doxology. Many feel the words honor, majesty, power, dominion, and praises describing God in Scripture also qualify as a doxology. 1 Tim. 6:16 mentions only honor and power everlasting, and 1 Peter 4:11 attributes praise and dominion to God. Both these Scriptures fall into this category, and can be considered doxologies. Using this extended definition, there are eighteen doxologies in the New Testament epistles. Seventeen of these conclude with forever (and ever). Biblical doxologies attribute the following to God: glory fourteen times; blessing, dominion, and honor four times; power three times, and majesty, wisdom, thanksgiving, and might one time. Glory is most often used and therefore satisfies the formal definition of doxology as a ‘word of glory.’ Majesty is sometimes used and is considered a synonym of glory (Heb 1:3; 8:1). David wrote the most Old Testament doxologies, and Paul was the most prolific doxology writer in the New Testament. He wrote ten, Peter wrote three, and John (in Revelation) wrote three (one of his own and two recorded from heavenly beings). Jude finished his short epistle with a wonderful doxology. Finally, the writer of Hebrews penned one doxology. James is the only New Testament author who did not contribute a doxology.
Some New Testament epistles contain several doxologies. Six of Paul’s thirteen epistles have doxologies. The Book of Romans has four, but there are none in the Corinthian or Colossian epistles. 2 Timothy ends with a doxology, as does 2 Peter, Jude, and Hebrews.
All nine attributes mentioned in the doxologies describe the person of God—glory, dominion, blessing, honor, power, majesty, wisdom, thanksgiving, and might. Many human rulers, ancient and modern, have demanded these accolades from their subjects. However, only God manifests the fullness of these traits, as stated in the doxologies.
The Israelites used Old Testament doxologies in synagogue worship, and Christians utilized New Testament doxologies as hymns in the early church. Many Catholic and Protestant doxologies were written after the Bible was completed. These often extol God and the Holy Trinity. They are foundational for the Christian faith, but will not be discussed in these articles.
Blessed be the LORD, the GOD of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD (1 Chronicles 16: 36).
The above is one of those doxologies that does not use the word glory. But it extols blessings to the Lord forever, emphasizing His eternality.
So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said: “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as Head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29: 10-13).
King David proclaimed the above doxology after the Israelites gave a vast amount of gold, silver, and material possessions for building the temple of God. King David also kicked in a great amount of wealth for this project. But he directed his blessings to the Lord—not the Israelites, for God provides all the riches at our disposal. He owns the world and all its resources and He lavishes it upon His people for their needs and for His glory. God reigns over all His kingdom. God is omnipotent—all power comes from Him. Nothing is impossible with God and He deserves all the glory. Our thanksgiving and praise to God should flow continuously from our lips.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands (Psalm 19: 1).
We like to look at the night sky and marvel at all the stars and planets we see. Telescopes have revolutionized our view of the universe. The Hubble telescope has provided truly remarkable views of stars and constellations. Certainly, this demonstrates the majesty and glory of God. However, that is not the subject of this Psalm. As we read further in Psalm 19, the message expands to involve more than stars and planets.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat (Ps. 19: 2-6).
Immediately after verse one, the Psalmist speaks of speech pouring forth during the day and night revealing knowledge. How do inanimate stars and planets reveal knowledge? The Psalmist continues to describe knowledge moving over all the earth without speech or words transmitting it. How does that occur? The knowledge must be apprehended by a physical sense other than hearing. What might that be? We have several questions to answer. First of all, the night sky transmits messages and knowledge. It does so via the stories told by the constellations. A significant body of extra-Biblical history reveals that mankind over the world understood God’s prophetic plan from pictures revealed in the constellations. Civilizations scattered worldwide knew the same pictures in the sky. They knew the stories the constellations portrayed for millennia prior to having the written Word of God. God did not make the Bible available to His followers until a much later time. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah. He lived approximately 1,500 years before Christ. Prior to that men knew God’s plan through the messages He conveyed by the constellations. Four constellations fill the night sky on each of the lunar months. This makes a total of 144 constellations. They regularly circle the earth and reveal God’s plans to the world’s inhabitants. The constellations provide a tent for the sun, which was “the bridegroom coming out of His chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run his course,” and “nothing is hidden from its heat.” The bridegroom is none other than Jesus Christ. The constellations tell His full redemptive story—both His first and second coming. Each constellation reveals a different aspect of that story. God informed the world’s inhabitants of His prophetic program concerning His Son for many generations prior to giving people His written Word. But Satan determined to corrupt God’s story in the stars after the worldwide flood. The first constellation, ‘virgo,’ foretold the coming of the “Seed of the woman, a virgin. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Emmanuel (God with us). (Isaiah 7: 14; Matt 1: 23). God forewarned Satan after Adam and Eve sinned: “and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15). Satan knew the “Seed of the woman” would someday destroy him. The last of the constellations is ‘Leo the Lion.’ This constellation and the others accompanying it reveal the story of the Lion’s final victory over the serpent. Jesus is the Lion from the tribe of Judah. He has defeated Satan! He will one day seal that victory by throwing Satan into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
Satan made it a high priority to change mankind’s interpretation of the constellations. He tried to blot out the ‘signs’ giving testimony to God’s Son. Several hundred years after Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat, Nimrod ordered construction of the Tower of Babel. He ordained astrologers to study the stars and change the stories of the constellations to commemorate Satan. Their place of employment was in the top of the Tower of Babel, where they could best study the heavens by night. Astrologers from pagan cultures subsequently named the planets after pagan gods. The god of warfare, Marduk, was given the planet Mars. Marduk was known as Molech in ancient Israel. His followers sacrificed their first-born children to him. He was also the sun god—worshiped with serpents and fire. God warned the Israelites not to worship Molech. “You shall not give any of your offspring to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD” (Lev. 18: 21). The planet Venus memorialized the mother of the gods and the fertility goddess, Venus. She was known by different names in ancient cultures—Isis in Egypt, Aphrodite in Greece, Ishtar in Mesopotamia, and Asthtoreth in Canaan. God warned the Israelites to abstain from worshiping this goddess with prostitution and deviant sexual acts. (Judges 2: 12-13; Judges 10: 6-7). The pagan cultures honored the god, Mercury (Hermes in Egypt), with the planet bearing his name. He was none other than the god, Baal, in the Old Testament. Various names describing the same gods testify to the many languages God gave in His judgment at the Tower of Babel. Pagan astrologers credited Mercury/Hermes/Baal for scattering the world’s inhabitants with many languages. God chastised and punished Israel for worshiping that god.
Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth.
(Judges 2: 11-13).
In the beginning, God created the sun, moon, stars, and planets for signs and seasons (Genesis 1: 14). He created them the 4th day of creation, so they would not be lifted above the Creator. God manifested His glory, by revealing the story of His Son in the heavens! This, indeed, is a great doxology—a ‘word of God’s glory!’