Magnifying God

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s greatness, that is for certain. We have the glorious benefit of hindsight with which to view that fact. But I wonder how those involved in these accounts felt at the time. How big did God look to them when circumstances seemed to be so large they dwarfed even the presence of God?

Joseph of course comes to our minds, and it seems that he was a pillar of strength throughout his long trial and difficult circumstances. But we do not actually know if there were days in which his view of God was shaped, and sufficiently diminished as he viewed Him through His circumstances. I am sure he must have had at least a few days such as this.

But my mind runs to King Saul. Recall he found himself in a very precarious position as he faced the astonishing army of the Philistines as recorded in I Samuel 13:5-6. Verses 8 to 13 reveal to us that Saul indeed viewed God through his circumstances, and God appeared very small and very distant.

Contrast that view of God with that of the Apostle Paul, in at least as equally distressing circumstances. But in 2 Corinthians we see that he was able to frame circumstances with his picture of God.

8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
II Corinthians 1:8-10

Never at any stage did God look smaller than his circumstances.

I recall hearing the testimony of a young girl who had recently returned from a missions trip to Calcutta. As she traveled through that city she saw what looked like an endless slum that just went on mile after depressing mile. She beheld with horror the millions and millions of people in the most abject poverty she had ever seen. And her immediate thoughts were that ‘this problem is even bigger than God.’

It is easy in extreme circumstances to think that way. But it is wrong and even sinful to do so. Even Job, amidst his extreme circumstances, had to be reminded how big God was and that circumstances must be viewed through Him, never the other way around.

I close with two verses from Psalm 35. There we find two instances of the concept of magnification and the two meanings that can be assigned to it.

The first is probably the most common idea we have when we think of magnifying. It is when something tiny, miniscule, or microscopic is made to look larger. Psalm 35 provides us with a figurative example of that:

Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
Psalm 35:26

David speaks of the enemies that have arrayed themselves against him and exalted themselves. They are magnifying themselves: tiny, insignificant, supposing themselves to be greater than God and His servant. That is making something very small being made to look large.

But in the next verse we see He speaks of the other aspect of magnification. That is when something that is already very large is examined up close so that we can see the detail and features, like viewing the moon through a telescope.

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.
Psalm 35:27

This is what happens when we view our circumstances through God. We magnify His name, not the circumstances, and they begin to appear as they ought. Indeed as Wiersbe states, ‘If you look at God through your circumstances, He will seem small and very far away, but if by faith you look at your circumstances through God, He will draw very near and reveal His greatness to you.’