“Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor, thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.” These words are from the hymn Fairest Lord Jesus and express the heart of a Christian – that he glories in his Savior Jesus Christ. The question – in what or whom do we glory? – was the subject of my sermon on Sunday from Isaiah 28:1-13.
The people of Ephraim (that is, the northern kingdom of Israel) gloried in their capital city, Samaria. Not only did Samaria, set upon a hill and surrounded by a wall, physically resemble a crown but symbolically it served as the crown of Ephraim’s glory. As the prophet put it: “… the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim” (v.1). Their city was secure, prosperous, and host to the lavish feasts at which the wine flowed all too freely. The people of Israel gloried in the comfort, wealth, and luxury of their capital city.
But the beauty of Samaria was no more lasting than that of a short-lived flower. Soon the armies of Assyria would invade the city and carry off her inhabitants to exile. “The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim will be trodden underfoot; and the fading flower of its glorious beauty” (vs. 3, 4).
Likewise, God will bring to naught all that in which we may glory. Do we glory in our beauty, or wealth, or success, or popularity? Do we boast in our righteousness? These “proud crowns” will also be “trodden underfoot” by the judgment of God.
Isaiah shows us that in which we find genuine, lasting glory – the Lord himself. “In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people” (v.5). Jesus Christ is the true crown of glory for those with eyes to see him and hearts to receive him by faith.
And this crown of glory can only be placed on the head of the humble. Only he who acknowledges his own sin and unworthiness, and finds in Christ the righteousness, wisdom, and goodness he utterly lacks in himself, can truly glory in Jesus.
The apostle Paul said, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Can you say the same? Is Jesus your soul’s “glory, joy, and crown”?
Soli Deo Gloria!