“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NIV)
Growing up, I loved basketball. I still do, mind you. But I do not watch as much as I did as a kid. How could I? I probably watched either a college or NBA game six nights out of the week. Thanks to ESPN, TNT, TBS, and the plethora of cable channels that carried random local college games, it was doable.
One thing I love about sports is the debates comparing players, teams, and games. It is difficult, if not impossible to make comparisons, of course. Players and teams competed in different eras, which makes it hard to judge between them. Recently, the Golden State Warriors of the NBA broke the record for best record in a season with a record of 73-9, edging out an immortal Chicago Bulls team that went 72-10 in 1995-96.
In the first command, God declares to the Israelites, “You shall have no other gods before me.” An interesting thing to note is the meaning of “before me” in this verse. Instead of meaning something like “ahead of me in line,” it is referring to God’s presence. As in, “you shall have no other gods [standing] before me” or perhaps, “no other gods even belong in my presence.”
Such the proper exclusivity of God’s claim on our devotion. No other gods even belong in his presence. In other words, in our conversation about best player, team, author, guitarist, etc., we may have a number of candidates in the group of greatest ever. All might belong in a group on the platform together. But in the case of God, Yahweh doesn’t just belong at the front of the line, no one else even belongs on the podium.
Prayer: God, I praise you for your glory and greatness. Give me an undivided heart in my devotion to you. Amen.