Categories
blog meditation

Meditation Psalm 115

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.

Why do the nations say,
    ‘Where is their God?’
Our God is in heaven;
    he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
    made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
    noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
    feet, but cannot walk,
    nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
    and so will all who trust in them.

All you Israelites, trust in the Lord –
    he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord –
    he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord –
    he is their help and shield.

The Lord remembers us and will bless us:
    he will bless his people Israel,
    he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the Lord –
    small and great alike.

May the Lord cause you to flourish,
    both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

The highest heavens belong to the Lord,
    but the earth he has given to the human race.
It is not the dead who praise the Lord,
    those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the Lord,
    both now and for evermore.

Praise the Lord.

(Ps. 115:1-18 NIV)

One of the greatest problems of the Old Testament Church was its tendency to compromise, by borrowing and merging ideas from the other faiths around them. In this Psalm 115; which was part of the liturgy of the Passover celebration; there is a kind of recovery of their God given faith. They sang about and proclaimed the exclusive claims of the one God. They were the people of God, they were the privileged elect people of God, the people chosen above the other nations, but they had no cause for pride. Their message to the surrounding nations sounded rather arrogant. You think you’re right and everybody else is wrong. Why should you go around claiming yourself to be some exclusive elect bunch of the only God that exists? This is their response

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

NIV Psalm 115:1

As followers of Christ today we fit into that select privileged group. In a world today where they make a fuss about who gets into Oxford and who doesn’t, they want to make an equal society where opportunities are available to all and not just a select few. This message of the Christian gospel will attract the charge that we don’t respect other faiths. Well there is some truth in that charge but it’s not all true. We want to respect the rights of men and women to have freedom to practise their religion without fear of intimidation. In that sense we do respect other faiths. But if we are honest Christians and remaining true to the message of Christ, then we have to say that all these other faiths are false and they will lead people into a lost eternity. But in saying that, will we not be accused of the arrogance of seeing ourselves as right and everybody else wrong? Yes. I believe we will have to face that charge, but we come back again to the defence of:

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

NIV Psalm 115:1

The glory of being right with God, being ready for heaven, being Christ’s people is not to us, but to the name of God belongs the glory. Christians are what they are, not because of the privilege of birth, not because of the privilege of nationality, not because of inherent worth, but because of God’s great love – His covenant love and faithfulness in and through Jesus Christ. In Old Testament times the nations round about the Old Testament church in Israel asked the question:

Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?”

NIV Psalm 115:2

You turn on the TV today and you find the same question. Media moguls are posing the question – What right has the church to speak? People are leaving the churches in droves. If a church spokesperson raises an issue of morality, an issue about marriage, divorce, abortion, euthanasia, it is accused of being out of touch. Where is God when the church is in decline? Where is God when thousands are killed in famine, in earthquake, and in war? What right has the church to speak? Many of our churches today have tried to be more society friendly and in doing so have compromised the message. But the answer to all is:

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

NIV Psalm 115:3

God is sovereign, He is above all, He is free to do what pleases Him. He is not bound to love us, but He freely bound himself in covenant love to bless His people. God is free to act, He is free to delay. God is God and we are not. But we don’t like these God-values, people say, these ideas are from the Middle Ages, we need to move with the times. People today don’t want to get married, people want to be free to live together in same-sex relationships, to have sex outside of marriage, to carry out abortions, to dispose of the elderly. As out-of-date and as unpopular as the message might appear, the whole counsel of the Gospel message is that there are commandments and requirements by God on how we are meant to live. The Gospel message today includes the declaration of the law of God. The law is the schoolmaster to a godless, sinful society – a sinful society that calls on the church to bend and flex to its agenda, but God in heaven still does whatever He pleases. In Old Testament times there was a liberal, politically correct agenda that was promoted by intelligent, progressive well-meaning people that called upon the Old Testament church to compromise and work with the nations around it and merge the faiths. In the celebration of the exclusive salvation event of the Passover – that Passover that foreshadowed the ultimate Passover event of the cross of Christ – in this celebration a clear distinction was made between the God-given faith and the falsehood of all others. God is alive in heaven, doing whatever he pleases.

But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
• They have mouths, but cannot speak,
• eyes, but they cannot see;
• they have ears, but cannot hear,
• noses, but they cannot smell;
• 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.

NIV Psalm 115:4-8

These other religions are nothing, their gods are nothing. They have been invented by people. They have nothing to offer. False religion and false worship are not innocent practices, but they are demoralising, and ultimately the worshippers will perish with their perishable idols. Those who promote these faiths have nothing to offer and those who follow these faiths have nothing to offer.

Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

NIV Psalm 115:8

What does it mean to say that those who make idols will be like their idols? It means that they too will become as those who have eyes but cannot see, feet and cannot walk, in other words they will surely die. These gods are contemptible fictions of the imaginations of people. This is the language of war. Not of taking up guns and bombs or sword and spear, but holy war, not just against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces. The battle of words and religious ideas has at stake the eternal well-being of the souls of men and women. To play the game with other religions is to hand a grenade into the hands of men and women who trust you, and that grenade will go off in eternity because they have been sold a lie. Don’t teach men and women to put their trust in anyone other than Almighty God and Jesus Christ whom the Father has sent and the Holy Spirit who witnesses day and night to the message of Christ.

All you Israelites, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.

NIV Psalm 115:9-11

In life and in death people need spiritual help, they need a shield, they need security. That can only be found in Jesus Christ. Listen to the heartfelt appeal that the Psalmist brings to the people. He addresses the same people three times using three different descriptions but saying one thing to them each time. “Trust in the Lord”.

All you Israelites – trust in the Lord.
House of Aaron – trust in the Lord.
You who fear him – trust in the Lord.

What will the outcome be if we trust in the Lord?

The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the LORD–small and great alike.

NIV Psalm 115:12-13

All you Israelites – He will bless.
House of Aaron – He will bless.
You who fear the Lord – He will bless.

Three times the Psalmist calls upon the people to trust in the Lord and three times he reassures them that the Lord will bless. The claims of other religions, the danger of mixing in a little bit of this religion and a little bit of that religion was going to distract the people away from the one true God. He is the Sovereign God, who resides in heaven, He does what pleases Him. But these other gods, they are constructed by the imagination of people. Those who made them, those who follow them, they will perish.

The Psalmist has to give a certain message in the face of this pluralism.

• Trust in the Lord.
• Trust in the Lord.
• Trust in the Lord
• He will bless
• He will bless
• He will bless.

It is only the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth that can give blessing. He alone is the source. There is one fountain of blessing and those that have come to the Lord can acknowledge that they have received an exclusive blessing, a blessing that the followers of other religions cannot and will not receive until they trust in the Maker of heaven and earth. That may make us sound proud in the ears of others but we come back again to:

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

NIV Psalm 115:1

Why then if there is only one God and one true faith, why do we have so many religions?

The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to the human race.

NIV Psalm 115:16

The one true God placed the human race upon the earth, to rule the earth. By the hands of people (v.4) gods have been made. Elaborate faiths have been constructed, but these gods do not have mouths to speak any certain word of salvation. They cannot speak, they cannot hear, they cannot smell, they cannot feel, they cannot walk, they can utter no sound. In other words, these gods are dead and those who made them will become like them and so will their followers. This is a waste of the gift of life that God has given. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence;

NIV Psalm 115:17

There is no glory for the Lord, no praise in this manner of existence. Only through those who have trusted in the Lord and been blessed by Him will the Lord be exalted.

it is we who extol the LORD, both now and for evermore. Praise the LORD.

NIV Psalm 115:18

The praise of the Lord is not just in this life, it will be for evermore. There is only one God, there is only one King. Trust in the Lord. He will bless. The only hope of spiritual blessing is to be found in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way to heaven and those who pursue other ways will be lost. Trust in the Lord, for the Lord will bless you.

Prayer
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we worship You, the One true God. We come only to You, because only You have the words of salvation. Every other way that seems right to some people only ends in the way of death. Lord out of all the people You have chosen to bless us with salvation. Lord humbly we bow in adoration, we will not give our praise to another, because You have redeemed us by sending the Lord Jesus Christ to die for us and we offer our praise and thanksgiving in the name of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.