Psalm 115

This Psalm is part of a collection of Psalms known as "the Hallelujah Psalms" (Psalms 111 - 118). This Psalm, along with Psalms 116 -118 were read at the conclusion of the Passover meal each year. This Psalm is classified as a communal hymn and it emphasizes both the sovereignty and trustworthiness of God and contrasts it with the utter uselessness of idols. We will spend a couple of weeks reflecting on this Psalm because it has become a Psalm that I have often cited when teaching on Isaiah. Two themes, among many, which are prevalent in the book of Isaiah are 1) Trust in God, and 2) idolatry. In trying times such as we are currently in, where "fake news" is an all too commonly used phrase, and where uncertainty abounds, it is important to always fix our gaze, place our hope and trust, and find our identity in God, not other things.

Psalm 115:2 - 8

(2) Why do the nations say, 'Where is their God?' (3) Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

(4) But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of humans.

(5) They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; (6) they have ears but cannot hear, noses but they cannot smell; (7) they have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

(8) Those who make them will be like them, so will all who trust in them.

God VS. Idols

In three short sentences (vv.2-4) the author clearly emphasizes the vast gap between the God of Israel and the gods of the nations. The nations' gods are clearly visible, made of earthly material such as stone, wood, or gold or silver. They are fixed in one location at a time. And lastly, they are made by other humans! The gods of the nations require human ingenuity, strength and craftsmanship in order to be brought into existence. Yet - "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him." The difference between them is massive. Think of God's response to Moses at the burning bush when Moses asks what God's name is. God responds with "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:14). To ask God's name in this scenario is, in effect, to ask about his reputation, his character. In some ways, it is an attempt to get a grasp on God, to, in a way, control him. God will have none of it--He simply responds by telling Moses I AM God, I am in control, not you. You will never be able to handle me, box me in, or fully fathom all that is God. As C. S. Lewis beautifully puts it, "He is not safe, but he is good." Very quickly, right from the start, the psalmist distinguishes between idols and the God of Israel. Yet...

Israel continuously and constantly went after idols. They loved worshipping hand crafted images rather than "the one who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth" (see Isaiah 1:29; 2:17; 40:18 - 31; 44:9 - 20). However, this was not an ancient problem. We still worship idols today. No, I do not mean to imply that we have little carved images, overladen with gold, on our mantles at home. Some people actually might however. The worshipping of an idol is the act of putting something that defines you, that motivates and dictates your goals, ethics, energy, etc., ahead of God.

What makes us feel secure? What, in these times, brings us peace and rest? What are we training, equipping and working so hard for? Do we feel secure because our savings account is solid, and do we continuously work to build up that account? Do we feel enough because we now have a spouse or a new relationship? Will we feel safe and secure and be able to relax only when covid is done, or there is a vaccine? Is most of our training, effort, and education simply to ensure we get that life defining career/job? None of these goals are necessarily bad. They become idols when we willingly abuse others in pursuit of them. They become idols when the ethics and goals of the kingdom get pushed aside for the sake of achieving our own security, self importance, elf-identity and self-worth.

The Psalmist warns us in verse 8 that "all who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."

You become what you worship! Israel, throughout Isaiah, is said to be deaf, blind, and mute. Like the idols they worshipped they too became people who "had eyes but cannot see; ears, but cannot hear." They too had heads and minds, but like stone/wood images, they could not understand.

You as a human, are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Your identity, security, self-worth, and purpose can only be found and lived out through the worship of God. What drives you? What makes you feel secure, enough? Are there things that you would pursue at the expense or neglect of others? These things: money, pleasure, status, etc. if not put under the sovereignty of God, if not used as tools in his kingdom become idols that shape our character.

Who do we worship? Idols or the I AM that I AM?