Recently I heard a sermon related to Psalm 95, While listening, I noted some thoughts, especially thinking of v. 3 which refers to God as the ”great King above all gods.”
What I noted is that Reality is organized in hierarchical terms. Some particulars are MORE or LESS valuable, powerful, important, helpful, determinant, intelligent, strong, etc., than are other particulars of the same genre. Some of these particulars end up on the level of “gods.” Standing above all this hierarchy of items that are relative to each other stands God, the King of Heaven. We humans have SOME power, love, cognitive ability, moral ability, sensitivity to the external world, analytical ability, organizational ability, etc.. God has ALL.
The difference between God and the gods is not between beings of the same category. There is only one God. But, we humans have a tendency to either permit or to create functional gods. Once these functional gods are in our vocabulary and in our thought processes, it is not unusual for them to “ascend the ladder” of values. Furthermore, we humans are prone to attribute to some of these gods the status of God. It doesn’t “work” of course, since the gods we have created don’t have the actual nature of God even if we have attributed to them the function of God.
In this context, we can observe that, as CS Lewis says, only a Christian who worships the King over all can afford to have smaller gods. His idea is that God, the Almighty, when worshiped as He deserves, keeps the smaller gods in their proper place. Of course, Lewis is including in the small gods, those things, people, values, goals, procedures, positions, possessions, etc., that have some value but that can assume an improper place if we allow them.
As Christians, we can recognize relative value without attributing absolute value. Are we always successful in this task? Probably not. But, the more successful we are, the more rightly we give glory to God the King, and the more securely we keep ourselves in Reality’s scale of values.