The question of why God will not share His glory with another is an important theological issue that is directly addressed in Isaiah 42:8, which states: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” This verse succinctly captures a fundamental truth about God’s nature – He alone is worthy of glory, praise and worship. As the one true God, the creator and sustainer of all things, He will not allow the worship and adoration due to Him to be given to false gods or idols. Unpacking this verse and the biblical principles behind it gives insight into God’s uniqueness, sovereignty, holiness and righteousness.
First, the exclusivity of God’s glory is rooted in His eternal self-existence and self-sufficiency. As the eternal I AM (Exodus 3:14), the uncaused first cause of all that exists, God has life in and of Himself, depending on nothing outside of Himself for His being or subsistence. All glory, honor and praise flow from who God is within Himself – the perfect, all-glorious, infinite and eternal God. There is nothing and no one that enables Him to be God. He simply is who He is eternally and unchangingly in His divine nature and character (Malachi 3:6). Therefore, since no one grants God His divine attributes or confers any glory on Him, He will not share the glory that is innate to Him with any created being. As 1 Timothy 6:15-16 declares, He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light.
Secondly, God’s exclusivity of glory is based on His work of creation. As the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1), all glory, honor and praise belong rightly to Him alone (Revelation 4:11). God made humanity and the entire universe for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). Since He is the source and giver of life and existence to all things, it would be unjust for Him to share the glory that is due to Him as the Creator with anything He has made. Romans 11:36 encapsulates this: “For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” God will not yield glory to another because it was never theirs in the first place – all glory is inherently and rightfully His.
Thirdly, God’s exclusivity of glory underscores His sovereignty. As the rightful King over all His creation, God reigns supreme (Psalm 103:19). He does what He pleases in the heavens and on the earth (Psalm 115:3). All authority belongs to Him alone (Matthew 28:18). God is not subject to any higher power outside Himself, nor does He share control with any supposed co-equal. As the only Sovereign, His will and purposes supremely prevail over all. He governs creation as He sees fit for His glory. So God does not give His glory to another, because there is no one higher than Him worthy of glory. He alone is worthy of glory and honor because of His absolute sovereignty (1 Timothy 1:17).
Fourthly, God’s exclusivity of glory reflects His covenant relationship with His people. As the God of Israel, He requires exclusive allegiance, worship and service from His people through His covenant (Exodus 20:3). God will not share the glory due to Him with false gods because that violates the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). He demands that He alone be worshipped and served by those He has specially called to be His own treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6). For God’s covenant people to follow after and worship other gods was an act of spiritual adultery and treason against the Lord (Judges 2:17). God’s glory belongs to Him alone based on the covenant oaths He makes with His people.
Finally, God’s exclusivity of glory demonstrates His holiness, righteousness and justice. As the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 43:14-15), God’s moral perfection cannot tolerate rivals, false gods or any diminishment of His glory. His righteousness necessitates that He alone must be glorified, honored and praised (Revelation 15:3-4). For God to share glory with created things would compromise His intrinsic moral purity. As a righteous judge, the Lord must punish idolatry, which robs Him of His sole glory by transferring it wrongly to other so-called gods or idols (Isaiah 42:8). God’s holy justice requires that He not share His glory with unholy idols.
In summary, Isaiah 42:8 provides the key theological truth that God will not give His glory to another. This flows naturally from God’s intrinsic self-existence, His work as the sole Creator, His absolute sovereignty, His covenant relationship with His people, and His perfect holiness and righteousness as the only true God. He alone is worthy of all honor, praise, worship and glory from all of creation. For God to share His glory would compromise His deity and diminish His moral perfection. As jealous God, He covets all glory for Himself alone.
Other verses that convey this same essential truth include:
Isaiah 48:11 – “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”
Psalm 115:1 – “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”
1 Chronicles 16:28-29 – “Ascribe to the Lord, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”
Isaiah 2:11-12 – “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up – and it shall be brought low.”
In the end, God alone deserves all glory because He alone is God. Any attempt to share God’s glory with created things is an affront to His deity and a grave sin that God takes very seriously. He will vindicate His supreme glory because He will not share it with another.