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Psalm 115

Jorine Johnson

1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

2 Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in the heavens;

he does all that he pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

5 They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

6 They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

7 They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

8 Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

9 O Israel, trust in the Lord!

He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!

He is their help and their shield.

11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!

He is their help and their shield.

12 The Lord has remembered us; he 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,

both the small and the great.

14 May the Lord give you increase,

you and your children!

15 May you be blessed by the Lord,

who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens,

but the earth he has given to the children of man.

17 The dead do not praise the Lord,

nor do any who go down into silence.

18 But we will bless the Lord

from this time forth and forevermore.

Praise the Lord!

The psalmist pleads to the Lord from the perspective of the sake of the glory of God. It is based on God’s reputation that is at stake and His name, His faithfulness, and steadfast love as other nations criticize the people of God. Others may ask, “Where is [your] God” in a accusatory tone in the tragedies of life that are not under their control. In their day, it may have been the defeat of their army from a foreign army which would have provoked their question. When bad things occur in the lives of the people of God, it is easy and common to be under the scrutiny of those that accuse and blame and look disfavorably upon the God of Israel.

However, the psalmist receives a few answers from the Lord:

Our God is in heaven and he does what he wants or what he pleases. We have to recognize the sovereignty and the all-powerful nature of God. Sometimes it doesn’t always make sense the actions of God — sometimes we see things like death and sickness and incredibly terrible circumstances and the enemy can easily say, “Where is their God?” but we have to recognize the plan of God is greater and much loftier than what we can understand.

Joseph is an example of how God used slavery, kidnapping, accused of rape, and family betrayal to rescue Joseph’s family and the rest of Egypt so that they may know the Lord. It may be easy for Joseph’s brothers or the Egyptian slaver’s or taskmasters to have mocked him, but we recognize God’s plan in the end. It is the same for Jesus and God’s plan to have Jesus handed over to the chief priests and killed and crucified by the worst death possible, but God’s plan of salvation was at work no matter the doubts, the insults, the mocking, and anything that may have been perceived as the enemy winning. But Jesus conquered the grave and sin and death has lost its sting. 

The Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God is truly in heaven and he does what he pleases and so we do not have to be worries about God’s reputation or even respond to the enemy’s question. All we need is to trust that our God who is heaven does what he pleases and what he pleases is to work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and that good is that we should be conformed to the likeness of Christ. 

Verses 4-8 contrasts the character and likeness of God versus idols that have no form, no mouths to speak, no eyes to see, and no noses to hear. Our God is different and with the use of anthropomorphic language such as hands, feet, and hears, it shows and characterizes the very realness and reliability to our God who sees, hears, and talks. And it is true that when we trust man-made idols, gods, systems, and even celebrity or politicians, we began to act like them. And so when we trust in God, we imitate his character and become to emulate him. 

Verses 9-11 continually pleads to the Israelites to trust in God. That may be a tough situation or tragedy or crisis that makes us question God, but we must get back to trust in Him. 

And the rest of the psalms gives insight to our trust in God: He is the only one who is able to bless, creating the heavens and the earth, the heavens belonging to God, and the entrustment of the earth to God. 

Verse 17 is interesting that it says that the dead cannot praise the Lord, and while it certainly may mean physical death, the connotation to the Hebrew mind would argue that death represented being cutoff and eternally separated unto God. But that’s not the case for the righteous who still have the great joy to praise God forever and would not go down to the depths in silence. 

God is in control and He rules and reigns. His plan is perfect. We may not understand His plan at the moment and no we do not understand how to respond to the criticism, but we have the great assurance that our God is in control and he does what he pleases. That type of power is frightening if it wasn’t for the great grace and mercy of God.

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