Psalm 115 (1) Not to us, 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 human hands. (5) They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. (6) They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. (7) They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but 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) All you Israelites, trust in the LORD- he is their help and shield. (10) 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 his people 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 cause you to flourish, 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 mankind. (17) It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence; (18) it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD. (NIV)
Psalm 115 is part of what Bible scholars call the Egyptian Hallel, Psalms 113-118. These six psalms are sung during the Passover feast, among other times. Psalms 113 and 114 sung before eating the meal, and Psalms 115-118, after eating. Hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise.”
The Egyptian Hallel is a grouping of songs sung as reminders of God’s faithfulness to the Israelite people during the four hundred years of bondage in Egypt, miraculous freeing, and subsequent wandering in the wilderness moving toward the Promised Land. The Old Testament book of Exodus tells this story.
Psalm 115 is titled To Your Name Give Glory (ESV), The Futility of Idols and the Trustworthiness of God (NKJV), The One True God (ICB), Heathen Idols Contrasted with the LORD (NASB), among others.
In memory of the exodus from Egypt, their salvation, and God’s great providence, something had changed. At the point of writing Psalm 115, the people around the Israelites were mocking them, “Where is your God now?” “He saved you before but look at you now!” “Where is He now?” You can almost hear the mocking crowd, right?
The author begins . . .
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1 NLT Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1 NKJV It does not belong to us, Lord. The praise belongs to you because of your love and loyalty. Psalm 115:1 ICB
All glory and honor be to God. All that we have, all that we are is because of His great love. His covenant hesed love promised to generation upon generation of those who love him, His unfailing love and mercy is poured out upon us not because we have earned it, but because of who He is.
This is a call to remember. To remember God’s saving power, but also remember that it all happened for His glory.
Jesus sang this song on the night He was betrayed after sharing the Passover meal with His friends. On that night He knew what was to come and He sang this song: “Not unto me, O Yahweh, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.”
Why let the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. Psalm 115:2-3 NLT
The “nations” might think they sneer at God, but they are so very wrong. Where else would God be? He is not in idols made of wood or stone, nor is He dead and buried; nor He is just present when we wake Him from sleep through chanting or spells. Our God is in the heavens, where He should be! The place that He can see and hear all; the place He will rule with His might and power, with His love and mercy.
But our God is in the heavens- where he should be; above the reach of mortal sneers, overhearing all the vain jangling of men, but looking down with silent scorn upon the makers of the babel. Supreme above all opposing powers, the Lord reigneth upon a throne high and lifted up.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8 NLT
The irony. Men worship things created with their own hands, made in the image of themselves. But these manmade objects have no life nor breath. They are not alive. The creator, man, cannot breathe life into them. But he worships them anyway as something more powerful than him? It does not make sense.
Our God is in heaven. He formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him with His own breath, in His own image. Therefore, God’s creation worships Him.
Creation worships the Creator, not the other way around.
Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 NIV
Our God is a spirit, and his hands made the heavens and the earth: well may we worship him, and we need not be disturbed at the sneering question of those who are so insane as to refuse to adore the living God, and yet bow their knees before images of their own carving.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
O Israel, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. All you who fear the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. Psalm 115:9-11 NLT
After discussing the scoffing pagans and their idols, the psalmist calls upon the Israelites to fear God and trust in Him as their protector and helper. Always. In good times and bad.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
No matter what goes on around us, when we are lost and afraid and unsure what direction to take, here is the answer. Open the Word of God and trust in Him.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the people of Israel and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the LORD, both great and lowly. Psalm 115:12-13 NLT
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, no matter who is scoffing or laughing at you. When we put our trust in Him, we walk in His light, and the path ahead is His doing. I would much rather be on the path of His choosing, than my own. The only way to do that is to my trust in the Lord and to seek Him every day. When we do this, He will bless us.
May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity. The dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave. But we can praise the LORD both now and forever! Praise the LORD! Psalm 115:14-18 NLT
The psalmist turns to a blessing: that if we praise and fear the Lord, the children of God will be blessed. This isn’t earthly blessing. This is spiritual blessing. Whatever happens on earth, will happen, but the children of God are so much better off “doing life” with their Creator rather than on their own.
Heaven and earth are the Lord’s, and everything in them. The heavens, the sky and the universe, are God’s. These verses may refer to Creation, in Genesis, the Lord gave the earth to man for a time:
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 1:26-28 NIV
God created the earth and everything in it before He created mankind. And although God oversees and ultimately controls everything, He did put the earth under the rule of mankind; to subdue and use, not to destroy and abuse. Free will. God rules over all, but like a loving parent, He allows His children to make their own choices, often to our own detriment and suffering. Right?
The dominion given by God means that men and women should use the earth and its resources for the good of humanity, as wise and thoughtful stewards. We can use but we should not waste and destroy.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
We are responsible for how we use God’s creation. All that He made is for His glory, so when we mistreat Creation, we mistreat the Creator, and we will answer to Him for this. That is why, walking in the Light of the Lord is so important. How do we know the will of the Lord? How do we know what brings Him glory? By reading the Word first and foremost. By a personal relationship with God.
Sing the praises of the Lord! The dead do not sing. They are dead and gone. But we can sing, forevermore. The dead that cannot be heard anymore may be a reference to a heavenly choir that we cannot hear. To the living, the grave is silent. But there is a choir singing forevermore that we can join now. And when we pass through death, we will join the choir in the heavens.
Jesus sang this song during the Passover meal. His last meal with His disciples. He knew He was leaving them. He knew that they would no longer hear His voice. He also knew that He would pass, for a time, into a place (death) where there was no song. An empty, lonely place without God, the Father.
So this song, probably broke His heart.
Thank you, Jesus, for your great sacrifice for us.
“And again the thought reverts to the upper room, and the Singer whose deepest passion was ever the will of God and the glory of His name; to the One who was soon going into the silence where no note of praise would be heard; and yet to the One who would turn the silence into song forevermore.”G. Campbell Morgan, as cited by Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
Father in heaven, thank you for your love and faithfulness throughout time. You are good and all that you created is to bring you glory and we thank you for that. May we praise you and fear your name forevermore. May our voices rise with all the heavenly beings and those that have gone before us to sing your praises and tell the story of your great love to those who do not know you. Give us strength to love our neighbor and those around us. Amen.