Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 15 2019 - Psalm 115 – Not to us be the glory

There is no one else like our God. He alone is the living God.

This psalm, like many other passages of the Old Testament, paints a vivid contrast between the idol-gods of the nations round about and the God of Israel. Idols may be made of precious metals and look impressive, but they are made by human hands and are no gods at all. They cannot hear the cry of those who pray to them nor can they speak a word in response or do anything to help them. They feel nothing and remain insensitive to the needs of their worshipers.

The nations around Israel mocked them saying, "Where is their God?" (v. 2). They could point to their own idols but the Israelites had no image of their God. The mockery of the Israelites' neighbours suggested that they had no god at all. But the psalmist answers that, unlike their useless idols, the Israelites' God is in heaven and is sovereign over the whole universe (v. 3). He alone is worthy of praise and adoration (v. 1).

This accusation that the people of the living God have no god at all was not confined to the Old Testament. The Romans called Jews and Christians "atheists" because they rejected the many gods venerated by Greece and Rome and had no image of their God in their temple. People seem to be more comfortable with gods that they can manage and control.

But what evidence do we have that our God is not also the creation of our own imagination? The psalmist remembers God's love and faithfulness (v. 1). God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, cared for them despite their complaints and rebellion during forty years of wandering in the wilderness. God brought them safely to the land he had promised to give them as an inheritance and enabled them to take possession of it. All through their history, God has displayed his faithfulness and love. He is the help and shield of his people, the one in whom they can place all their trust (vv. 9-11).

And we have yet more evidence for the reality and goodness of our God. God loved us so much that he sent his own beloved Son into the world to be our Saviour. And, despite our complaints and rebellion, he continues to care for us and has given us the testimony of his love towards us by the Spirit he has given to us. God is also our help and shield; the one in whom we can confidently place all our trust. He will bring us safe to glory. God is good.

So, based on the testimony of God's love and faithfulness in the past, the psalmist prays for him to continue to pour out his blessings upon us and upon our children (vv. 14-15). May his blessing continue to flood the earth down the coming generations. And in response to such blessings, he calls us to praise the Lord. From the human perspective, we see that the voices of those we love are silenced by death. Hence the psalmist exhorts us to praise the Lord while we still have breath. We can expand this perspective with the words of the lovely hymn by Isaac Watts:

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures.

Living God, help us to live lives marked by thankfulness and praise for all of your love and faithfulness shown towards us in the Lord Jesus and in the many blessings of this life. We echo the words of the psalmist: "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." May our lives bring glory to your name and bring your love and blessing to the lives of those around us.

Peter Misselbrook