May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” (Psalm 40:16)
Great is an important word. We use it to talk about something of unusually large size: A great earthquake shook the city. Or a large number: A great crowd filled the stadium. Or unusual power or intensity: She has experienced great pain. Or something that is especially good or wonderful: He is a great player. Or something in an extreme degree: For a long time, we have been great friends.
Not only is the word great flexible — used in five different ways above, to talk about size, number, intensity, goodness, and degree — but it’s also a powerful word. Or at least it used to be. It’s become an easy word to overuse. When day after day is great, and meal after meal is great, and game after game is great, we begin to lose the punch of the word to talk about our wedding day, or an unusually lavish feast, or the championship game that went into overtime.
Reclaim the Word Great
And what about God? The Bible tells us again and again, especially in the Psalms, that our God is great. If we use the word great for the normal and everyday, what language will we have when we need to describe the day or the meal or the game that really is a cut above the typical — or most importantly, the God who really is infinite above all else?