Since God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable — and we are not — the depths of the layers of His words to us are unplumbable. We can study a verse one year and think we’ve absorbed all He has to say, and return another year and realize we completely skipped over a profound and enriching phrase. Isaiah 62:3 is a verse like that for me:
“You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” (Isaiah 62:3)
What does God mean? Crowns and beauty I understand, but diadems? What exactly is a diadem?
diadem: (noun) A decorative band or wreath worn about the head as a symbol of victory or honor (example: Miss America’s diadem was auctioned off for charity.)
So according to our definition, Miss America wears her diadem to proclaim her victory. Or Queen Victoria, on her Coronation Day in 1838, in front of 400,000 visitors, wore her diadem as a declaration that she would now reign as queen of the most powerful nation on the planet. But I still find myself confused. I think thoughts (incorrect ones) like:
- So the diadem, symbolizing victory, is beautiful. And if I’m the diadem spoken of in Isaiah 62:3 (as a born-again follower of Christ), my beauty must lie in the magnificent way God created me (Ps. 139:13-14). (And it is true that we’re each fearfully and wonderfully made, but do you hear my concentration on me in that particular train of thought?)
- It’s as if I think I’m able to, by my own actions, add to God’s glory. The shiny crown makes the queen look more magnificent, and she is revered by all who see her because of the crown. So I must have to be shiny in order for the Lord to be magnified.
But no, that’s not right. Crowns have no characteristics worthy of acclaim in and of themselves. Crowns are inactive. Diadems are not created and placed on the head of the King to symbolize the greatness of the people of the Kingdom. Crowns are created and bestowed to point out the greatness of the King.
So. What exactly is God saying about His redeemed people (the diadem) that He holds in His hand? I think this: The diadem shows forth to all watching that the wearer of the crown is victorious; the diadem shouts that it’s owner is worthy to be honored and praised, and given all acclaim. The diadem doesn’t get the acclaim. The wearer of the diadem, its owner, already has acclaim.
So that, when Alexander III was crowned sovereign ruler of Russia in 1883, the diadem was placed upon his head because Alexander was already rightful heir to the throne.
The diadem he received pronounced to the watching kingdom, and to the enemies of the kingdom, that this man was entitled to all glory and majesty and honor in Russia. The man got the praise. The crown, now his to hold, adorned his head in order to proclaim his already-earned glory.
So how is a Christian (as the diadem) a pronouncement of the victory and honor due the Lord? In this similar way: as a declaration (as a redeemed human, re-created by His miraculous power) of His worth. As the crown, I don’t get acclaim or honor. Rather, my existence as a sinful human graciously redeemed by God shouts out that the owner of the diadem, God, is the magnificent and worthy One! The diadem — me and you and those through the ages who have been made new by Jesus’ sacrifice for us — proclaims His unfathomable grace and goodness. Not by doing. Just by being.
“… Yahweh will set his people in the center of the world “for a name and for praise.” Whose name and whose praise is at the fore? The closest parallel texts (in Zephaniah 3:8–10) suggest that Yahweh’s worth and Yahweh’s honor is the ultimate goal of the new creation.
…when sins are forgiven and loyalty is enabled, Yahweh declares that his people “shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” (Jeremiah 33:9) … the delivered flock of God will be “like the jewels of a crown” that will magnify God’s “goodness” and God’s “beauty” (Zechariah 9:16–17).” (We are Made for Praise, Jason DeRouchie)
Held in His hand to be held high
On that day, the Lord’s diadem will proclaim His beauty and goodness to all the nations of the earth. The diadem will be you and me. His unfathomable plan to sacrifice Jesus in our stead will be His crowning glory. And as He holds you high for all to see, His care for your life is a credit to Him. For the miracle of your redeemed, re-created life, wrought by Him and held out by Him “for the gaze of all the nations,” He’ll receive the honor due His name (Phil. 2:9-11). So it’s not anything you accomplish. It’s God’s grace in your life that magnifies His name throughout the universe. He is the King holding His diadem (you), claiming all power and glory because He is and has always been beautiful and good (toward you). He is victorious.
How does this help us to walk closely with and obey our Lord? We can rest. We don’t need to worry that we might irreparably besmirch the King’s glory. He’s got it all taken care of. He chose you to be part of the crown He’ll show the nations on that day, and because of your unearned, freely-given salvation, your existence will magnify, symbolize, and announce the goodness of the Lord. Every knee will bow in humbled wonder at His grace. At His mercy. Mercy toward each redeemed sinner in His kingdom.
Toward the beautiful diadem in His hand.
Painting: Queen Victoria, in her coronation robes and diadem by George Hayter
Painting: Coronation of Tsar Alexander III and Empress Maria Fyodorovna by Georges Becker, 1883