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“Magnificent” is a description we use sparingly.  It is in some ways the ultimate superlative.  We reserve it for the truly exceptional, the jaw-droppingly beautiful, the majestic, the almost-too-grand-for-words.
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The things I think of as magnificent are the stars of the night sky, vistas of massive mountains, the grace and beauty of a tiger, or a coral reef, or a redwood forest.  In my own mind, magnificence conveys not only splendor but scale.  To qualify as magnificent, it is big.

Depending on what Bible version you use, the words “magnificent” or “magnificence” may appear a few times.  Different translators use it in different places, but all of them use it sparingly. One passage where most translations agree is 1 Chronicles 22:5. David said,

“My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the Lord shall be exceedingly magnificent, famous, and glorious throughout the lands. Therefore I now will make preparations for it.”

So David made ample preparations before his death. (NASB)

When we then read the description of the temple built by Solomon (according to the design given by the Lord to David), I think it would qualify for anyone’s definition of “magnificent”.  Awesomely beautiful, astounding in scale.

A variety of Hebrew and Greek words are rendered “magnificent” or “magnificence” by translators.  For each of them, different translators choose different English words.  But all of those original words convey exceptional splendor, or tremendous size, or both.  One passage stands out to me:

Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust. (2 Peter 1:4, NASB)

A few other translations use “magnificent” here.  Others render it “exceedingly great”, “superlatively great”, “wonderful”, “marvelous”, “precious”, “splendid”, “great beyond price”.  You get the idea!  The translators are groping, almost, to find words big enough to describe the greatness of the promises God has made to us.

And great they are!  Think of it—to “become partakers of the divine nature”!  As we learn elsewhere, we are promised to become heirs of the promises made to Abraham,  inheriting the earth, forever—which means living forever.  The Son of David sitting on the throne of David, ruling over all the earth in the Kingdom of God, ourselves his fellow heirs and co-rulers.  Forever rescued and redeemed from sinfulness and mortality.

Exceedingly great!  Precious!  Magnificent!

From time to time I’ll use the word “magnificent” to describe mountains or stars or the living things God has made.  When I do, I think it would be wise to stop, and make the connection with this magnificence described by Peter.  What great, precious, magnificent promises have been given to us!  I lift my eyes in awe.  I can scarcely take it in.

Love, Paul

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