Today: [Psalm 115] Exposing Idolatry: Psalm 115 is a challenge by the writer to those who put their dependence on anything other than God Himself. We might think today that there is very little idolatry in our culture. What thinking, modern person would pray to a figurine or a statue? What we fail to realize is that idolatry includes anchoring our sense of well-being, or our self-image in anything other than who Jesus is in our life. Is there idolatry in your life? This chapter will help bring these issues to light.
Psalm 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, [and] for thy truth’s sake. 2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where [is] now their God? 3 But our God [is] in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols [are] silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them. 9 O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield.
Psalm 115 is also one of the psalms included in the 6 passages of the Jewish Hallel. The Hallel is a Jewish prayer which recites Psalm 113-118 verbatim. It is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving recited during Jewish festivals by observant Jews. One of the glyphs in ancient language used in the Hallel is a stick figure of a man with upraised arms. Many ancient versions of the bible make this psalm one psalm with the previous chapter (114). The authorship of this psalm is varied. Some suggest Moses, others Daniel’s 3 companion, others suggest Mordecai and Esther penned the psalm and still others ascribe it to Jehosaphat as a taunt to the invading army that was besieging the city at the time.
Verse 1 starts out as an appeal to God to get glory for Himself among men. The writer is apparently petitioning for deliverance of his people but asks that the Father do this in deference to His own name and honor first and foremost. In other words the writer isn’t just asking for a favor on a human level. He is connecting the deliverance from this present conflict in connection with God’s own honor and dignity in heaven. It constitutes then a very respectful appeal – after all it just isn’t about US all the time is it?
The writer goes on to question (as Moses did in the wilderness) why should the heathen find occasion to mock and say “where is their God?” When you are facing difficulty you are always under the scrutiny of those moving in unbelief. Sometimes the mockery originates by those closest to you or by fellow Christians. Any time you dare to have hope or dare to crawl out of the misery of the failed human condition there will be those just waiting for you to fail.
This is the prayer of one such person. The deliverance asked for is apparently miraculous. The heathen are observing with great interest to see the failure of God’s promise. The petition of the writer lays it all on the line as you in your own prayers should be wont to do. Learn to put your faith on the line in the midst of criticism and accusation. See what happens next. See that God will come through for you even in the midst of great contention and scorn.
In verse 4-9 the writer describes the idols that the pagan serve. How do you identify an idol? Idolatry is alive and well today. An idol is something a person trusts in that made with human hands and human origination. It may not be a figurine or sculptor but how many put their trust in their job, or the institutions of religion or science – all made not by God but by the hand of man.
Verse 5 reminds the heathen that their idols have voices but they speak not. Is this true today? How many people have idols that falsely speak to them? The person who looks at his possessions and think they say something about him – therefore he looks down on others who are not as fortunate. The person who is well dressed because he thinks that says something about him. The person who has anchored their sense of self and security in something other than who God is in their life – that is the hallmark of modern day idolatry. In the final analysis these things say nothing about us – the only affirmation of value is that which proceeds from who Jesus is in our life and nothing else.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield. 11 Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he [is] their help and their shield. 12 The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless [us]; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. 13 He will bless them that fear the LORD, [both] small and great. 14 The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. 15 Ye [are] blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth. 16 The heaven, [even] the heavens, [are] the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. 17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. 18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
Verse 10 turns from attention to idols to exhorting the people to trust in God and not any other resource. Idolatry in the final analysis is outward dependence on anything other than inward reliance on the kingdom Jesus said is on the inside of you. In Luke 17:20,21 Jesus was dealing with the Pharisees who were trusting in the concept that one day through the passage of time things would be different. Christians fall into this as well. We struggle and say “we will understand it better by and by”. Jesus reproved them saying in effect that the kingdom they were waiting to come about through their concept of God’s linear purpose through time was in fact on the inside of them at that very moment if they would stop to realize it.
The kingdom of God that we are all waiting for (and it surely will come) is in fact on the inside of you. Christ in you is the hope of Glory. God meets your needs out of His riches in glory. On the inside of you IN THE GLORY is every answered prayer – in embryo just waiting to be born through the birthing and travail of your own faith-filled prayer.
We are reminded that God will help us. One of the names of God through the Holy Spirit is HELPER after all. God will not and does not sit idly watching us writhe in the hot ashes of difficult circumstance. He is doing everything that our faith authorizes and allows Him to do. Whatever you are going through today let your faith meet with God’s promise in full expectation that God is helping you and shielding you and delivering you from every point of pressure you are experiencing.
Verse 12 reminds us that God is mindful of us. He remembers you. Your name as it were is graven on the palms of His hands. You are never far from His mind. How can this be? Because God has the infinite power to train all of His scrutiny upon every human being at the same time and still be able to pay heed to the sparrow that falls from its branch. God knows you. God knows what you are going through. You are not being ignored or neglected. His blessing will find you as your faith rises up in expectation to meet Him.
Verse 13 says that God will bless them that fear Him. We have received comment on our website were people claiming to be Christians spoke blasphemously about God – taunting Him for their perceived condition of neglect. There was no fear of God in their demeanor. It was “God bless me or I refuse to live for you…” Verse 13 reminds us that the posture of reverential awe before God creates the environment that prayers are answered in. It is VERY unfortunate that the current seeker-sensitive climate of church culture is uber casual, very laid back – showing little reverence or deference to the God that we claim to serve. Since the 1980’s this model for ministry has been adopted and the church has been plowed under by a mocking world that refuses to take us seriously when we show so little reverence for the God we serve. Perhaps you can solve that issue in the religious culture you are part of but you can refuse to take part in it yourself – even if you get criticized for doing so. God is a God who blesses those that reverence Him in their lives.
Verse 14 gives the promise of being increased more and more by His hand. Where do people get the misunderstanding that He wants them poor or that there is any dignity or godliness intrinsic to the condition of poverty? God’s plan for you is increase. Not only for yourself but for your children. Verse 15 goes on to make it very personal – YOU ARE THE BLESSED OF THE LORD that made heaven and earth. God isn’t holding out on us. He loves us. He is helping us and will deliver us from every difficulty we find ourselves in as we render up to Him cooperating faith.
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