A close-up photograph of an ancient, worn-out Bible with the word "Exalted" highlighted in vibrant gold lettering on a beautifully decorated page.

What Does ‘Exalted’ Mean In The Bible?

The word ‘exalted’ appears many times throughout the Bible, conveying an important spiritual meaning. If you’re wondering what it means for someone or something to be exalted in the biblical context, here’s a quick answer: In the Bible, when someone or something is described as exalted, it means they are lifted up to a place of great honor, authority, or power.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the full meaning of exaltation in the Bible. We’ll look at how the original Hebrew and Greek words are used, key stories about exaltation, what it means when Jesus is called ‘exalted’, and more.

By the end, you’ll have a deep understanding of this significant biblical concept.

The Meaning of ‘Exalt’ in Hebrew and Greek

Root Words for ‘Exalt’ in the Original Languages

The Hebrew and Greek words translated as “exalt” in the Bible have rich meanings that convey the lifting up of something to a position of honor, power, or glory. Let’s examine the key terms:

  • The main Hebrew verb is רוּם (rum), meaning to be high, exalted, or lifted up. It figuratively denotes being extolled in rank and dignity.
  • In Greek, the key terms are ὑπερυψόω (hyperypsóō) and ὑψόω (hypsóō). Both mean to lift up on high or exalt to a lofty position.

These root words illustrate how exaltation in Scripture involves elevating something to great heights of glory and preeminence. The exalted thing is raised high above others in status and esteem.

How These Words Are Used to Convey Honor and Power

Let’s look at some examples of how these Hebrew and Greek terms are used in the Bible to convey the exaltation of God and people:

  • God exalts or lifts up the humble (Psalm 147:6; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). This shows his power to honor the lowly.
  • We are to exalt and glorify the name of God, magnifying his greatness (Psalm 34:3; Psalm 99:5,9).
  • Kings and rulers are exalted or lifted up into positions of authority (Psalm 89:19; Daniel 11:36).
  • Exaltation is linked with victory, triumph, and rising above adversaries (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 149:6-9).

These examples demonstrate that biblical exaltation involves a clear expression of power, honor, and glory. Something or someone is raised into a glorious and victorious position high above others. Yet ultimately, it is God alone who has the power to exalt.

Key Bible Stories About Exaltation

Joseph – Exalted from Slave to Ruler

Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50 is a remarkable journey of exaltation. After being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph was exalted from prisoner to second-in-command in Egypt through his God-given ability to interpret dreams.

When a severe famine hit the region, Joseph’s family bowed down to him, fulfilling the dreams Joseph had as a youth. Though his brothers intended evil, God worked through Joseph’s suffering to save many lives and exalt him.

Joseph’s exaltation teaches us that God can turn human evil to good and exalt the lowly. Despite undeserved suffering, Joseph remained faithful and forgiving. His wisdom and oversight during the famine saved Egypt and his family from starvation.

As Romans 8:28 declares, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Hannah’s Prayer – The Exalted and the Lowly

In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah prays a beautiful song of praise to God after the birth of her son Samuel. She declares that God “raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Samuel 2:8).

Hannah’s prayer recognizes God’s power to exalt the lowly. She was a barren woman, disgraced in a society that valued fertility. But God heard her prayers and gave her a son who would become a great prophet and judge over Israel.

Her song celebrates how the exalted God reaches down to the lowly and accomplishes His redemptive work through them.

David – Exalted from Shepherd to King

David was the youngest son of Jesse, assigned to the lowly work of shepherding. But the prophet Samuel anointed David as the next king of Israel after God rejected Saul. Though it took many years before David assumed the throne, he was eventually exalted to the highest position in the land.

David’s exaltation shows that God sees the heart, not outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). The shepherd boy became Israel’s greatest king, mighty warrior, and ancestor of the Messiah. Though David later sinned greatly, he repented and found forgiveness from the God who exalts the humble.

As David wrote in Psalm 18:27, “For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.”

Jesus as the ‘Exalted’ Son of God

Jesus Was ‘Highly Exalted’ by God

After Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent miraculous resurrection, He ascended into heaven and was given a place of high honor and authority at the right hand of God the Father (Philippians 2:9).

As Peter declared to the crowd on the day of Pentecost: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).

So we clearly see that Jesus was highly exalted by God the Father Himself, given glory, honor and power over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). This was God’s reward to His obedient and righteous Son for accomplishing the work of salvation on the cross.

We Exalt Christ When We Call Him ‘Lord’

Interestingly, the Greek word translated “Lord” in the New Testament is κύριος (kurios), which essentially means someone who has power, ownership and mastery. When we call Jesus “Lord”, we are lifting Him up by recognizing His exalted position of authority and dominion as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).

So in that sense, believers themselves “exalt Christ” when they submit to Him as Lord of their lives (not only Savior).

We also praise and exalt Christ in worship – as the popular church chorus goes: “We exalt Thee, we exalt Thee, we exalt Thee oh Lord!” Lifting up His name in praise is a form of exalting the Son to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11).

The Exalted Jesus Will Return as King

The exalted position currently occupied by Jesus is seen by His sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 10:12). But one day, when He returns to earth again, it will not be as the suffering servant, but as the reigning King.

As John describes vividly in Revelation 19:11-16 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+19%3A11-16&version=ESV:

  • He is called “Faithful and True”
  • He judges in righteousness
  • From His mouth comes a sharp sword
  • He rules the nations with a rod of iron
  • On His robe and thigh is inscribed “King of kings and Lord of lords”
  • So the Jesus who is now exalted in heaven will one day return to earth in great glory and power to judge the world and reign forever. Every knee will bow before Him then as all finally recognize His sovereignty and majestic splendor!

    What Does It Mean for Us to Be Exalted?

    Humbling Ourselves Prepares Us for Exaltation

    The Bible teaches that those who humble themselves will be exalted by God (Matthew 23:12). This means that when we recognize our own sinfulness and need for God’s grace, we put ourselves in a position to receive God’s blessings and favor.

    Humility opens the door for God to lift us up and do great things through us. As 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

    God Exalts Those Who Follow Christ’s Example

    Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of humility leading to exaltation. Despite being the Son of God, Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” and humbled himself even to the point of dying on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8).

    Because of this sacrifice, God highly exalted Jesus and “gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). When we follow Christ’s example of humility and obedience, God also lifts us up and allows us to share in the victory and glory of Christ.

    As Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

    Warnings Against Self-Exaltation and Pride

    The Bible strongly warns against trying to exalt ourselves instead of waiting for God to exalt us. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” But James 4:6 gives this sobering warning: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

    Self-exaltation is a form of pride that God hates. When we proudly lift ourselves up rather than waiting for God’s timing, we often face His resistance and opposition. As Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

    But when we humble ourselves and rely on God to exalt us, He will do it in His perfect way and timing.


    As we have seen, the concept of exaltation runs richly throughout the Bible. In lifting up figures like Joseph and David, Scripture shows how God raises the humble to accomplishment. And Jesus Christ represents the supreme example of a life humbled and then gloriously exalted.

    When we exalt Christ as Lord and follow His model, God also promises to lift us up, both now and for eternity. If we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will exalt us at the proper time. But we must avoid trying to exalt ourselves, which represents the sin of Lucifer.

    Only by seeking God’s glory over our own can we discover the meaning of true exaltation.

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