Word Study: Light Up



Isaiah 49:3: “and said unto me, ‘You are my servant, O’ Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ ”

God is saying that we are his servants. The word servant is Hebrew is ‘aved. Aved has a very broad use in the Hebrew. In its Semitic root it has the basic idea of laboring for the advantage of someone else. What is the advantage that God is seeking from us? He tells us in Isaiah 49:3, “To be glorified.”

The word used here for glorified is ‘athepa’ar. This is found in this verse as a Hithpael imperfect form from the root word pa’al. The Hithpael verbal form is reflexive. For instance in a simple Qal form you would say: “I will sing.” If you put that into a Hithapel form you would say: “I will sing to myself.” So in this verse God is not saying: “I will be glorified.” Rather in the Hithpael He is saying: “I will glorify myself.”

So God is not saying we are to glorify Him but that He will be glorified in us. I’ve seen so many Christian leaders and performers as they accept the applause and standing ovations to piously say: “Well, let’s just give God the glory.” I mean it is just not cool to say; “Yes, thank, thank you, I really did do a good job didn’t I?”

The root word pa’al or glorify has the idea of adorning with brightness, a beauty that is lit up for all to see. As a Hithpael, God is saying that he wants to light himself up in us. We are just a lamp and he wants to be the light for the lamp. The word is also used for a very fancy headdress. This headdress is one that people immediately see and it is often very beautiful. Those who study human behavior will tell you that if you wear some sort of hat or something on your head, it will be the first thing someone notices about you. That is why king wears a crown, a soldier a beret, or State Trooper “Smoky the Bear hat. A hat may actually define your personality. That is why we take such care in grooming our hair as that is the first thing someone will notice about us. That is why when I hear someone modestly say; “Oh shucks, I ain’t nothing, give God all the glory.” Red flags go up. It is like someone saying: “I am a good Christian.” People should know it without you having to say it. It is the same with having to say that we must give God the glory. People will automatically know if God is being glorified or not without you having to remind them.

So here we have the word pa’al glorified being used. God is saying that as His servants, the world will see Him through us. We are to live our lives such that the first things others see is us will be God and His beauty. As servants to God, this is our most important job, to be His Light bearer.

I read something interesting in the The Talmud this morning in Kisvei Kodesh 24b. “God can not laud Himself, for who can comprehend His essence? Therefore, He exalts Himself in His children, like a father prides himself in his son.” It is with this love, that God created us so He could be exalted through us. He wants to take pride in us, He likes to sit up in the stands with the angels and look down at the way we use the gifts and abilities He created in us so He can say; “See that angels? That’s my boy down there.” It comes out that He takes spiritual delight is this exaltation. Eric Liddel who won the gold medal in the 1926 Olympics devoted himself to training for the Olympics almost at the cost of preparing for the ministry that God called him to. His explanation: “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

We all have some ability that God gave us to bring Him delight and pleasure. I knew a priest who was very talented in wood working. He confessed one time: “You know when I am working with wood, I can almost feel God’s pleasure more than when I offer mass.”

Many of us have certain abilities that may seemingly be unrelated to ministry. I know a guy who is a gifted mechanic and when he is working on repairs he is as happy as a Lark. On Sundays he performs his duties as an usher and admits he doesn’t really like it but it is his service to God. I wonder what is the greater service, taking delight in the abilities God gave you or teaching a Sunday School class that you dread going to.

All because we miss that little grammatically verbal form called a Hithpael we think we must humbly say a “Give God the glory” when what He is really saying is: “I want to see you use those gardening skills I gave you. Angels, look at my servant down there with that green thumb I gave him, ain’t he something?”