God or gods?
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
2 Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 6 they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; 7 they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.
9 O house of Israel, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, 13 he will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike. 14 May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. 15 May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
16 The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. 17 It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence; 18 it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Psalm 115 – God or gods?
(Verse 1) A characteristic of sinful men is that so often we want to be acknowledged, praised and glorified. Someone has said that self-made man worships his creator—himself! A coincidence of the English language is that the middle letter in the word ‘sin’ is ‘I’— I live for what I want, I do want I like, and I do not care too much about others. When I was a young man, I remember a popular saying, ‘Blow you Jack—I’m alright.’ The symptoms of this worldwide spiritual disease are still very evident today.
But what a difference there is when someone trusts, knows, loves and follows the Lord—though the temptation to be selfish is always near. Psalm 115 starts by saying, ‘Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory.’ We should live to glorify our Lord. When you think of God’s great love for us in giving His only Son, Jesus, to come to earth to live a sinless life, die in the place of the guilty to bear the penalty for our sins, and then rise again to be the living Saviour of all who will turn from sin and trust Him, you can see why we should seek to glorify Him. Note that His ‘love and faithfulness’ to us are what causes us to want to glorify Him.
(Verses 2-8) God hates idolatry, whether physical visible idols on display, or the idols that have taken God’s place in our hearts, lives, thoughts and ambitions. The idols to which people bow down are a tragic waste of time. They are mute, blind, deaf, senseless, useless, lame, and lifeless. The worshippers’ sinful worship of idols is as ineffective as their idols are—even if they belong to a so-called ‘Christian’ church. The second and longest of the Ten Commandments, referred to often in the Bible, says that idols should not even be made, and that it is wrong to bow down to them or worship them (Exodus 20:4-6).
(Verses 9-11) By contrast, trust in the Lord God. He helps, shields, and blesses His physical children (the Jews), their priests, and ‘those that fear the LORD—small and great alike.’ All non-Jews are included too, no matter who or where they live. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Why ‘perish’ eternally when ‘eternal life’ is offered by trusting the Saviour who died for you?
(Verses 12-15) The blessings God gives to all those just mentioned are offered to their children too. In His word, God our powerful Creator and loving Redeemer, has made that promise. He cannot lie. The ‘children’ we can see blessed by God’s grace, as we share the gospel with them and try to help them trust Christ and understand the Bible, are not just our physical offspring as their mothers and fathers. There are ‘spiritual children’ to see blessed too. They are the ones who have become ‘children of God’ spiritually by faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12; John 3:3 and 7).
(Verses 16-17) Like the psalmist we should be grateful that the LORD, who owns the heavens, has generously given this earth to man. Those who die not believing in Christ will never praise God. They will face His eternal judgment in Hell. Those who know the Lord will praise Him ‘both now and evermore’ in Heaven.