The first few verses of Psalm 115 serve as our text for today. They offer a comparison between the God of the Bible and the gods of the heathen. While it is true that most of the unsaved people that we will contact in the Western world do not worship man-made idols of stone and wood, it is also true that there are people who feel the need to offer their prayers before statues or pictures of Jesus or the "saints". In addition we need to be constantly reminded of the greatness of our God and what it is that He can do.
The psalmist opens with a tremendous statement. In fact, it is so tremendous that he feels the need to repeat it. He says, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." So often we as humans desire to receive glory. We desperately want other men to tell us what a good job we are doing and to praise us for our accomplishments. Yet this song opens with the repeated phrase "not unto us". I wonder what could be done for the cause of Jesus Christ if the attitude of Christians was "I don't want to receive glory. Only the glory of God matters."? So many believers spend their lives getting their feelings hurt by people who don't "praise" them enough. Pastors and church leaders resign their positions because they don't receive enough appreciation. Decisions are made based upon "What will people say" rather than on "What will God say". If we could learn not to a desire glory for ourselves, what a difference this would make in our service to the Lord.
The psalmist lists several reasons why the Lord is worthy of praise. In verse 1 he mentions God's mercy and truth. A constant theme of the psalms is that our Lord is merciful. He does not give us the punishments that we deserve. All of us have merited Hell because of our sin, but God is merciful and desires for us to have a home with Him in Heaven. I sinned today, yet the Lord did not kill me on the spot. He was merciful; far more merciful than I would be. When we think of how angry we get over the trespasses that others commit against us, and then realize how much worse our trespasses are against the Lord, we should praise Him for His mercy. The psalmist also mentions truth. Everything that God says or does is truth. There is no falsehood in Him. He never makes a mistake. His promises never fail. He not only speaks truth, He is truth. Everything in this world that is true is of God, and all that opposes truth is against God. For this fact, glory belongs to Him.
In verse 2 the heathen question the existence of God, apparently because He can not be seen. They have their idols of stone which sit in the groves, along the side of the road, or in a place of honor in their homes. Since the believer communicates with the "invisible" God (I Tim. 1:17), the heathen touts the superiority of his god who is visible to the naked eye. The psalmist responds that "our God is in the heavens". He in not bound by time and space, nor is He limited to the visual perception of humanity. A God Who is boundless like this can certainly do "whatsoever He hath pleased", and for this cause He is worthy of glory. The contrast is now given between our all-sufficient God and the false gods of the heathen. They may be visible, but they can not do anything. They did not create men, but were created by men (4). The have mouths, eyes,ears, and noses, but they can not do anything with them (5-6). They have hands and feet, but they can not walk by themselves nor minister to anyone's needs (7). They are just like men, and how much value can there be in a god who is just like me? If I made it, what can it do for me? If it can not see nor hear, how can it be aware of my needs? If it can not move itself, how can it meet my needs. If I can see that it sits in one place, how can it help me when I can no longer see it.? Obviously, these gods have no value at all.
We can safely trust in the God of Heaven (9) because He is boundless and limitless. We need not fear because we can not see Him with our finite eyes. We surely can see His great works, and we can see Him through the eye of faith as well. No statue is necessary. No man-made deity will suffice. No praise even belongs to me. God alone is worthy of glory.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery