Once again our Triune God and Father in Jesus Christ calls us to gather for public worship of Him on this Lord’s Day. As we answer this call with believing and obedient hearts, we take Psalm 115 as our guide. The psalmist of this particular song is also unknown, but this is what the Spirit of Christ gave to the human writer to put down for the profit of the whole church of Old and New testaments:
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
2Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
3But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
4Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
5They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
6They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
7They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
8They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
9O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.
10O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.
11Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.
12The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.
13He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great.
14The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.
15Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth.
16The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
17The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.
18But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord.
You will immediately notice the relevance of this psalm for our worship. It opens with that ringing cry for Jehovah alone to receive glory, and that because He alone is God, even the sovereign Lord. The unbelieving heathen (including the “new” atheists of our day) may taunt us with the question of where our God is, but the believing people of God know: He is in the heavens on His throne, performing all His sovereign plan and pleasure. In the meantime, where are the “gods” of the heathen? Well, they are idols (vanities, empty lies) and mere images of nothing. They are the product of men’s imaginations and the work of his hands. Notice how the psalmist contrasts Jehovah God with these “gods” of the nations (vss.4-8). And as dumb and deaf, as motionless and powerless, as these idols are, so are those who put their trust in them. Do we see then, that our own worship of the one true God means we must forsake all our own idols as well as those of the world about us? Entering the holy courts of the Lord means that we drop our lying vanities at the door and come to give God alone the glory!
In harmony with this truth that Jehovah alone is God, the psalmist calls and encourages the believing people of God to put their trust in Him alone (vss.9-16). The repetition of the call stresses its importance – and reveals our dullness and slowness to trust in the Lord. Simply look back on this week. When things were good, we forgot to trust Him because we thought we didn’t need God as our help and shield. And when things were rough, we still were slow to trust Him because we thought we could handle things by ourselves – we could be our own help and shield. But God teaches us that it is not so – by His Word and by His providences. And we learn (oftentimes, the hard way!) to trust the sovereign Lord as our only help and shield. As we stand – and bow! – in His presence today, let us reveal our trust in Him alone. Let us give Him all the glory – and give none to ourselves!
We are also encouraged to worship the only true and living God here. Note how the psalmist does so with the words of vss.12-16. God has been mindful of us – what a thought is that! Puny, insignificant, speck of dust, sinful me?! and you?! Yes, even us. From all eternity mindful of us. Thinking of us in Christ and for His sake. Mindful to create us as unique persons. Mindful to elect us to redemption in His Son. Mindful to send Christ to accomplish all our salvation. Mindful to plan our whole lives in perfect wisdom. Mindful to carry out that plan in absolute sovereignty. All for our good, even our everlasting good. Because He would bless us. O, He will bless us, because He is the Blessed God, and because He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus (Eph.1:3). Indeed we are blessed, people of God!
And what do such blessed people do? They bless the Lord, “from this time forth and for evermore” (v.18). The dead can’t and don’t praise Him (v.17), but we are alive in our risen Savior and by His Spirit! So “praise the LORD”, fellow worshippers! Let us this day bless the One Who has so richly blessed us.
If you desire to meditate on Psalm 115 through music, I encourage you to listen to some versifications of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification to get you started (Click on the title to hear piano accompaniment):
308. The Living and True God. Psalm 115. L.M. (4 stanzas)
1. Not unto us, O Lord of heaven,
But unto Thee be glory given;
In love and truth Thou dost fulfill
The counsels of Thy sovereign will;
Though nations fail Thy power to own,
Yet Thou dost reign, and Thou alone.
2. The idol gods of heathen lands
Are but the work of human hands;
They cannot see, they cannot speak,
Their ears are deaf, their hands are weak;
Like them shall be all those who hold
To gods of silver and of gold.
3. Let Israel trust in God alone,
The Lord Whose grace and power are known;
To Him your full allegiance yield,
And He will be your help and shield;
All those who fear Him God will bless,
His saints have proved His faithfulness.
4. All ye that fear Him and adore,
The Lord increase you more and more;
Both great and small who Him confess,
You and your children He will bless;
Yea, blest are ye of Him Who made
The heavens, and earth’s foundations laid.
5. The heavens are God’s since time began,
But He hath given the earth to man;
The dead praise not the living God,
But we will sound His praise abroad,
Yea, we will ever bless His Name;
Praise ye the Lord, His praise proclaim.