The Weight of Glory

Have you ever thrown your weight behind a cause that you really believed in?
Did people misunderstand, assuming you were merely throwing your weight around?
Was it discouraging that your ideas didn’t really carry weight with these people?

We frequently use the word “weight” as a metaphor for strength, importance, glory and honor. People of great influence are “weighty”, while insignificant people “don’t carry much weight”. Things which deserve honor and glory are considered very “weighty” indeed.

The Hebrew word kabad (כָּבַד) literally means “weight” or “heaviness”:

  • An Egyptian Pharaoh uses the word kabad in reference to the heavy burdens placed on the back of a slave (Exodus 5:9).
  • The book of Proverbs uses the word kabad, drawing a similarity between the heaviness of stones, and the heaviness of a fool’s wrath (Proverbs 27:3).
  • Righteous Job uses the word in reference to the heaviness of his suffering, stating that it is heavier than the sand of the sea” (Job 6:1-3). 

Scripture uses the very same Hebrew word kabad (כָּבַד) in reference to honor and glory:

  • All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. (Psalm 86:9)
  • You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! (Psalm 22:23)
  • Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
  • Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9)

When we honor God, and when we give him glory, we treat him as being appropriately “weighty”.  We do not take him lightly.

God also treats righteous people as “weighty”. He honors those who honor Him. So honor, worship, and glory are not only something God receives; they are also something which God freely gives to us:

  • The Lord will give grace and worship [kabad – כָּבַד], and no good thing shall he withhold from them that live a godly life. (Psalm 83:12)
  • Therefore the Lord God of Israel says . . . “those who honor Me I will
    honor [kabad – כָּבַד], and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”
    (1 Samuel 2:30)
  • “Yet shall I be glorious [kabad – כָּבַד] in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.” (Isaiah 49:5)

In the Septuagint (LXX) copy of the Old Testament, this Hebrew word kabad (כָּבַד) was translated into the Greek word doxa (δόξα). This word doxa (δόξα) is the Greek word for “glory“, and is used as such throughout the New Testament.

This point was not lost on St. Paul, author of 2/3 of the New Testament. In his epistle of Second Corinthians, he draws together the concepts of “glory” and “weight”, as he describes the incredible weightiness associated with our future glorification:

Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

By comparison, our current afflictions are light, and our future glory is weighty indeed.

We think of our future glory, not to exalt ourselves prematurely, but in order to look forward to the great reward which awaits the faithful.

And there is another context in which we should think of future glory constantly:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. . . .

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory

Whether saint or sinner, each person you meet was created by God, in the image of God, and may one day inherit this incredible weight of glory.

Therefore, let us never treat other people lightly.

40DAYSBLOG

This is day six of the 40 Days of Blogging.
For more articles on glory, check out these bloggers.

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About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
This entry was posted in 1 Samuel 2:30, 2 Corinthians 4, 40 Days of Blogging, C.S. Lewis, Psalm 83:12, Septuagint, Theosis. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Weight of Glory

  1. tpkatsa says:

    I have heard that the correct translation of the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain,” is actually, “Thou shalt not carry the name of the Lord in an evil cause;” that is, the commandment is not intended to prohibit exclaiming “#*&!, I stubbed my toe!” but rather it prohibits doing evil – or if you will – throwing God’s name, His weight – behind an evil cause. Is there any indication in the Hebrew for this commandment that it is also prohibited to take the name of the Lord lightly?

  2. Barbara Harrison says:

    Another essay I would so love to be able to share to Facebook

  3. YHWHreigns says:

    Im pretty sure Psalm 83 is the war psalm. Ps. 83:12 reads ” who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God.” This leaves me asking, which bible are you reading from?

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