Question: "Why will God not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8)?"
Answer: In Isaiah 42:8 God states, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (NASB). God’s glory is His honor, splendor, and dignity, and He will not share it with anyone. In telling Israel of how He was sparing them from destruction and giving them new prophecies, God says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another” (Isaiah 48:11).
God will not give His glory to another because all glory, honor, and praise belong to Him alone. He will not allow His works to be attributed to a false god, which is “nothing at all in the world” (1 Corinthians 8:4). Also, God will not allow humans to take credit for what He does, as if it were our own skill, wisdom, and power that deserve the praise.
God will not give His glory to another because it is immoral for someone to take credit for something he or she did not do. Whether it’s cheating on a test, plagiarizing a book, “stealing valor” by posing as a military veteran, or attempting to take credit for what God has done, it’s wrong. Most people understand that siphoning off the reputation of others or accepting accolades due to someone else is dishonest and dishonorable. For a human being to attempt to take credit for God’s actions is the height of hubris.
King Herod made the mistake of trying to appropriate God’s glory: “Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:21–23). In grasping for glory that belongs only to God, Herod was much like Lucifer, who said, just before his fall, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14).
God will not give His glory to another. He is “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light. . . . To him be honor and might forever. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15–16). The Lord our God is worthy “to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11). His glory is such that even heaven’s mightiest angels cannot look fully upon Him (Isaiah 6:1–4). There is no boasting in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:28–29).
God will not give His glory to another, which makes Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer all the more astounding, because in it Jesus prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5). Three things of note here: 1) Jesus prays that the Father would give Him glory; 2) Jesus lays claim to a previous glory that was His before the time of creation; and 3) Jesus asserts that His glory was that of the Father’s. In other words, Jesus asks that the Father would give His glory to another, namely Himself; more than that, Jesus proclaims that He has already shared in that divine glory as the pre-existent Son of God.
What are we to make of Jesus’ prayer, in light of Scripture’s unambiguous decree that God will not give His glory to another? Either Jesus is blaspheming, or He is indeed who He claimed: the eternal Son of God who is worthy to “sit on his glorious throne” (Matthew 25:31). We believe that Jesus is “in very nature God” (Philippians 2:6) and that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). He is worthy to be praised.