How Great Thou Art!

Bible Book: 2 Samuel  7 : 18-29
Subject: God, Greatness of; God, Nature of; Praise of God


Dr. J. Mike Minnix

2 Samuel 7:18-29

Long before George Beverly Shea was singing “How Great Thou Art” at Billy Graham Crusades around the world, King David was singing praises to God with the phrase, “How great thou art, O Sovereign Lord.” Today I want us to peer into the praise which David ascribed to God and discover how our own hearts can also be moved in the presence of the Lord.

David went to the Lord in prayer and offered up mighty praises to God because of a covenant which God made with him and with his descendants. This is commonly referred to as the Davidic Covenant. The promise which God made to David was not temporal but eternal. This promise pointed to the Messiah who would come through the lineage of David and the establishment of an eternal throne.

Look with me at Acts 2:29 and note what Peter said in that very first New Testament sermon preached following the ascension of Jesus back to heaven. Peter clearly states that the words given to David were prophetic and that they made reference to Christ, His death and His resurrection.

So, looking at David’s reaction when he heard of the special word of promise from the Lord reveals the praise and adoration He lifted up to God. His reaction should be ours, since we too have received a promise from God which is eternal in nature.

I. David Saw God’s Greatness By Looking Back

David was amazed by the love of God that brought him so far in life, for it was God who helped him look back and remember from whence he came. David had once been a poor shepherd boy following the sheep all day. Now David was the king of Israel and was receiving a promise that God had established with him and the throne of David. This was only the beginning of a majestic Kingdom lasting forever through the Messiah.

Dr. Thomas Rogers states that a cowboy on the range would do almost anything not to have the job of following the cattle during a cattle drive. Why? Because he would do nothing but eat dust from sunup to sundown. David had followed sheep in the same manner when he was a very young lad. He ate the dust of herding sheep, and knew what it was to be alone on long nights protecting the sheep. But God had a plan that would raise David up to be the King of Israel. Furthermore, David's rise was a symbol of an eternal kingdom which our Lord Jesus Christ was to establish when He came to the earth. So, David praises God because He has a sense that God is doing something much greater than simply raising up a poor shepherd boy to be an earthly king. Indeed, much more is taking place - God is working His will to establish an eternal kingdom in which every true believer will take part.

It would do us well as Christians to look back and remember how the Lord of glory found us, called us and made us His servants. We note how unworthy David felt, and how unworthy he actually was. Yet, God had drawn him with cords of love. He has done the same for us. He has raised us up to sit in heavenly places because we are servants of the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.

Look at Ephesians 2:5-9 ...

"... even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Wow! How blessed we are. David sensed that blessing and He could not help but praise God - "How Great Thou Art!" If we merely consider who we are as sinners and yet thinkk upon how our God has established a seat for us in heavenly places, it will lead us to proclaim His majesty, mercy and magnificence.

How truly unworthy we are to be called the children of God, yet God has called us and redeemed us. In a sense, we are even more blessed than David because we are on this side of the cross and understand so much more about salvation than those who lived in faith prior to the death and resurrection of our Lord. In addition, the Holy Spirit does not just come upon us for a time and a place of service, but dwells within us each and every day once we are saved. How truly blessed we are. We can say, "O Lord, how great you are!"

David asked, “Who am I?” That is what Moses said when God called him to go to Egypt and serve as the one to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery.

Ruth said to Boaz, her kinsman redeemer, “How is it, my Lord, that I have found favor in your eyes, being a foreigner.”

We, took, ought to look at our lives and ask, "How is it, Lord Jesus, that we have found favor in your eyes and that you loved us so much that you died in our place at Calvary?" Too often we become so familiar with holy things that we hold them in contempt. I don't mean that we demean them on purpose, but we do so by taking them for granted. I pray the Lord will help us to consider from whence we have been called and to Whom we have been called.

I found the following story among my files but do not know its origin:

"Because of his great devotion and faithfulness to his king, a Persian shepherd was promoted to the position of Prime Minister. The other ministers were angry that one of such lowly origin should be so highly honored. They therefore sought to bring in some evil report that would place him in disfavor. After watching him closely, they found nothing objectionable except that once a week he would enter a little room which he kept locked and would shut him self in for an hour. The noblemen informed their monarch of this, declaring that they were certain he must be gathering there a secret hoard of his master's precious possessions. The king doubted their story, but gave them permission to break in and search the room. The only thing they found was a small bundle containing a dilapidated pair of shoes and an old robe. Brought before the ruler, the minister was asked why he kept them, and he replied, "I wore these things when I was a shepherd. I look at them regularly lest I should forget what I once was and how unworthy I am of all the kindness and honor your majesty has bestowed upon me." (Source Unknown)

Do you and I ever do that? Do we go back to where we were when Jesus found us and made us His own? We should! We must remember how He lifted us out of the miry clay and set our feet upon the ROCK! Then, we will say and sing, "How Great Thou Art!"

In his book “Illustrations of Bible Truth,” H. A. Ironside included the story of a new convert who gave his testimony during a church service. With a smile on his face and joy in his heart, the man related how he had been delivered from a life of sin. He gave the Lord all the glory, saying nothing about any of his own merits or what he had done to deserve the blessings of redemption. The person in charge, who was very legalistic, didn't fully appreciate the reality of salvation by grace through faith alone, apart from human works. So he responded to the young man's comments by saying, "You seem to indicate that God did everything when He saved you. Didn't you do your part before God did His?" The new Christian jumped to his feet and said, "Oh, yes, I did. For more than thirty years I ran away from God as fast as my sins could carry me. That was my part. But God took out after me and ran me down. That was His part." Commenting on this testimony, Ironside wrote, "It was well put and tells a story that every redeemed sinner understands."

We will praise His greatness when we remember his grace! But, now notice that ...

II. David Saw God’s Greatness By Looking Forward

Imagine yourself seated comfortably in your favorite easy chair, fully absorbed in a magazine article. Your interest increases as you read down the page. Then, just as the story reaches a climax, your eyes come to the words, "To be continued." How disappointing! Sometimes, however, the words "to be continued" can bring great joy. This is especially true as the Christian contemplates God's blessings.

Commenting on the idea of God’s promises, C. H. Spurgeon wrote, "What a comfort to remember that the Lord's mercy and lovingkindness are to be continued! Much as we have experienced in the long years of our pilgrimage, we have by no means outlived eternal love. Providential goodness is an endless chain, a stream which follows the pilgrim, a wheel perpetually revolving, a star forever shining and leading us to the place where He is who was once a babe in Bethlehem. All the volumes which record the doings of divine grace are but part of a series `to be continued.'"

That's what makes the Christian life so exciting - it's just getting started! God's goodness to us is to be continued. The blessings of redemption are to be continued. Our relationship with the heavenly Father is to be continued.

The future is always bright for a believer, for no matter what we are going through, we can know that we are GOING THROUGH to the glorious promises given to us in Christ, and that is just one of the reasons we are never to livfe in fear. We can say again and again, "We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow!” How true that is!

This is especially meaningful in times of distress. Just a few months ago I sat beside my dear mother as she went home to be with the Lord. How marvelous that I did not have to view it as the end of the journey. In fact, for my mother it was simply a step from here to glory, and as she took her last breath here the next breath was one of celestial air. It meant much to me to know that I will see her again, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears and no more death. This is not a fairytale but is the promise of God to us. His Kingdom is not temporary but eternal; His blessings are not for a moment, but are forever. and His love is not for today but also for each tomorrow. I can say with all my heart, "How great you are, O Lord, my God!"

Life's dreams and hopes are sometimes unrealized. I have spoken to many Christians who are heartbroken because of some earthly failure. For a time they feel as if everything is lost because of some dream they held that they now realize will never come to fruition. It is my delight to tell them that what is promised by God cannot fail and is never limited by man, evil, Satan, time or any other thing inside our outside this Universe. This little life we are living is so short, but God's tomorrows will cause them to dim into nothingness.

Sometimes people discuss what they will ask the Lord when they meet Him. I'll tell you what I will ask Him  -  NOTHING - for nothing else will matter when I bow at His feet. You see, David had a promise for tomorrow, not just for today. That is the Christian experience. We are always looking forward. The "good old days" are ahead of us - they are not behind us. Aren't you glad?

I was once a young boy sitting with my parents in church. Then I was a young man sitting with my wife and children in church, then I was in college studying for the minisry. Then I was a pastor and evangelist. Now I am old. But, I can tell you this, my best days are ahead and not behind. The best is yet to be. That is the Christian life. In human life without Jesus, everything is winding down, but in Jesus we are always moving upward and forward. Thus we ought to say as believers, "O Lord, my God, how great you are!"

Now, consider that ...

III. David Saw God’s Greatness By Looking Inward

The story is told of an artist who searched for a man to be a model for a painting of the prodigal son. One day he saw a beggar in the street and asked him to come to his studio and pose for him, promising to pay him. At the appointed time the man appeared, neatly shaven and all dress up. "Who are you?" asked the artist. "I am the beggar," answered the man, "but I thought I'd get cleaned up before I got painted." The artist said, "I can't use you as you are now!" The beggar was dismissed. This is true of anyone coming to Jesus. You don’t wait till you clean yourself up and then come to God. Why? You cannot clean yourself up. You can’t remove one sin you have committed. Only Jesus can cleanse you and forgive you - you must come as you are.

When we look inside ourselves and see the weaknesses, wrongs and sins of our lives, even as Christians, we realize just how great God is to love us and forgive us. Look inside and see how unlovely you are, then you can praise God for His great love for you. He does not love us because we are worthy, but He loves us because He is wonderful.

No Christian can look within and see, in his flesh, any good thing. Even as believers we are hopeless in ourselves. You see, God did not just save me in the yesteryear of my commitment to Him - He is saving me everyday that I live. He HAS saved me, He IS saving me and He WILL save me. He called me, converted me and He keeps me.

What then do I see when I look inwardly? I must look upon the new life Jesus has placed within me. He alone is holy and righteous, and He has given that to me as a gift. I didn't earn it. Like the model I mentioned, it did me no good to come to Him in pride saying, "Look at me Lord, I have cleaned myself up so you can save me." No! No! He called me as I was. "Just as I am, I come!" He does the calling, the cleaning, the saving and the keeping of my human soul.

David was promised an eternal kingdom though he was totally unworthy, and he knew it! Isaiah said, "I am a man of unclean lips..."

Paul said, "I am the chief of sinners."

That is what every true believer knows about himself or herself. The promise of God to us is only real when we are called to repentance, have turned from our sin and have placed our faith in Him for salvation. Jesus died to give us that salvation and rose to assure us of the reality of eternal life.

Perhaps you are here today and you have never trust Christ as your Savior and Lord. You can come to Him today. In just a few minutes we will sing a hymn and ask people to come forward to accept Christ. Come as you are and you can know the same promises and peace we are talking about today.

What if I told you that a great inheritance has been left by one so wealthy that there is no limit to the rewards He provides in His will. Then, I also said that it is not too late for you to be added to the will. The promise to you is that you will become part of His family and receive all that He has promised. I guarantee you that hearing such a thing would cause you to immediately respond. That is just what Jesus did. He left a will with all His promises in it. It is an inheritance, Peter tells us, reserved in heaven for you (1 Peter 1). The only way to become part of that will is to allow Jesus to come into your life and then to follow Him. If you do that today, you will proclaim, "O Lord, my God, how great you are!"

Notice this as well ...

IV. David Saw God’s Greatness By Looking Upward

Roger Rose said that when he was a boy his family lived on a farm alongside a dirt road. Only on rare occasions would an automobile pass by. But one day as Roger's younger brother was crossing the road on his bicycle, a car came roaring down a nearby hill, struck the boy, and killed him. Roger said, "Later, when my father picked up the mangled, twisted bike, I heard him sob out loud for the first time in my life. He carried it to the barn and placed it in a spot we seldom used. Father's terrible sorrow eased with the passing of time, but for many years whenever he saw that bike, tears began streaming down his face." Roger continued, "Since then I have often prayed, `Lord, keep the memory of Your death as fresh as that to me!"

We must look upward and realize that our Lord is King of kings and Lord of lords. He reigns and rules. Yet, He gave Himself for us at the cross. In Revelation, chapter 5, John writes of the vision which he saw of our Lord in heaven. He saw Him as a Lamb that had been slain. It was at that time that John heard heaven break out in song, singing, "Worthy is the Lamb!" Yes, look up and praise Him, because one day we will sing that song before Him - in PERSON!

I read of a western rancher who asked the district superintendent of a certain denomination to assign a pastor to his immediate locality. "How big a man do you want?" the superintendent asked. "Well," the old cowboy said, "we're not overly particular; but when he's on his knees, we'd like to have him reach Heaven."

Look UP and you will sing, “O Lord My God, How Great Thou Art.”


David exclaimed, “How great you are, O sovereign Lord!” Is He your sovereign Lord? Have you given Him your life? He is calling to you. And if you have given Him your life, are you today exalting Him in His greatness because you are looking back, looking forward, looking inward and looking upward? Have you gotten so used to be a Christian that you take it for granted. Come now! Let us fall down before Him this morning at an old-fashioned altar and proclaim, "O Lord, MY GOD, how great you are - especially to me!"