Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! Psalm 34.3.
How do you magnify what is already great beyond all greatness? How can you make something that is already the biggest it can be, even bigger? The answer, of course, is that you can’t. So what does the psalmist mean when he tells me to “magnify the Lord” and what did Mary, the mother of Jesus, mean when she told Elizabeth that that was what she was doing: “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Luke 1.46-47)?
I think that in both instances, the idea of magnifying the Lord is to increase the Lord’s stature and greatness not in actuality but in the eyes of oneself and others. My wife’s close-sight is very poor because of the effect of multiple sclerosis on her optic nerve, so she uses a magnifying glass to read small print. But the glass doesn’t actually make the print any bigger than it already is … it just makes it appear bigger to her than it seemed before she magnified it. It becomes bigger in her estimation.
So how do I make the Lord bigger in my estimation now than he has seemed to me up to this point? What is the magnifying glass?
I think the second part of this morning’s text tells me. I am to “exalt his name.” Mary would agree. For her, magnifying the Lord was “rejoicing in God” her Saviour. When I begin to praise God … to tell him how wonderful he is, to tell him how good he has been to me, to give thanks to him for all he has done, to count all his blessings towards me … he grows in size; not in actuality but in the way I see him and in my appreciation of him. And the psalmist actually spells this out in another psalm: “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69.30).
Every word of praise and thanksgiving I utter reveals to me more of the magnificence of my King.
Majesty, worship His Majesty;
unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise.
Majesty, kingdom, authority, flows from His throne
unto His own, His anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus,
magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King.
Majesty, worship His Majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings.
Jack W Hayford