“Highest Place” is one of my favorite worship songs:
We place You
On the highest place
Are the great High Priest.
We place You
High above all else
And we come to You
And worship at Your feet (Scripture in Song, Ramon Pink, 1983).
The lyrics are based on the NIV’s translation of Philippians 2:9-11:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The verb translated “exalted him to the highest place” means superexalted and is usually translated as “highly exalted” (ESV, NRSV, NKJV, etc.).
It’s a fascinating word picture: Jesus humbled himself and died the lowest kind of death, then descended into the earth. But God raised him from the grave and superexalted him, where he now intercedes for us at God’s right hand (Romans 8:34).
From the cross to the grave to the throne . . . Jesus is indeed at the “highest place,” as the lyrics suggest.
I have one small quibble with the song, though: Jesus isn’t at the highest place because we put him there.
He’s there because he submitted himself to the Father, and God exalted him to his right hand.
I think that’s a subtle point that we ought to remember.
When Jesus was resurrected and ascended to the Father, he ascended to a place of honor and glory and power.
That’s Paul’s point in this passage: Jesus is on the throne, and one day everyone—including those who deny him now—will acknowledge him as Lord.
When I sing, “We place you on the highest place,” I remind myself that I could never do anything to put him in his exalted position.
He’s already there—whether I acknowledge it or not—and I can choose to worship him as the Lord of lords, or deny him now and confess him then. —Chuck