Pillar Journal

God’s nature and attributes


I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
—PSALM 145:5–9

Heavenly Father, all Thy perfections—Thy greatness, eternality, sovereignty, power, goodness, compassion, patience, and love—are displayed in Thy Son, the God-man Christ Jesus. He is the brightness of Thy glory and the express image of Thy person. As I turn to meditate upon Thy attributes, turn my mind from self and enlarge my heart’s ability to understand, in a personal way, the glory of Thy perfections—that I may adore, imitate, revere, love, and obey Thee better. In Jesus’s name. Amen.”

Scripture often invites us to praise God’s name: “I will praise thy name for ever and ever” (v. 2). The “name” of the Lord refers to all of God’s “names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works…anything whereby God maketh himself known”1—including all His revealed glory and fame. Psalm 76:1 says, “In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.” The name of the Lord is His glory (Ex. 33:18–19; Ps. 102:15) and the object of prayer and worship (Gen. 4:26; Ps. 7:17).”

So, how do we praise and extol the “name” of God in a proper, reverential, and biblical way? It is through the attributes that God has revealed about Himself. We bless God’s name according to His attributes. God’s attributes are qualities that are closely and permanently associated with Him, and that we use to identify Him and to express “the glory due unto his name” (Ps. 29:2). God’s attributes have been a focus of the worship and piety of God’s people throughout the centuries—as demonstrated in scriptural summaries of God’s attributes and echoed in the confessions of the Christian church.

One of the most significant biblical summaries of God’s attributes is the divine self-revelation that took place at Mount Sinai. Moses had prayed, “Show me thy glory.” The Lord told Moses, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee,” but warned, “thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Ex. 33:18–20). The next morning, Moses hid in a cleft of rock and God passed by, proclaiming His glorious name: And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Ex. 34:6–7)

Calvin called these words from Exodus 34 “as clear and satisfactory a description of the nature of God…as can anywhere be found.”

Excerpt From
None Else: 31 Meditations On God’s Character and Attributes
Joel R. Beeke