May 19, 2021

May 19, 2021

May 19, 2021

Timothy A. Womac
Psalm 115 NLT
Laity
Keith Memorial United Methodist Church
Hiwassee

Psalm 115

Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
    but to your name goes all the glory
    for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
Why let the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens,
    and he does as he wishes.
Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
    shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
    and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
    and noses but cannot smell.
They have hands but cannot feel,
    and feet but cannot walk,
    and throats but cannot make a sound.
And those who make idols are just like them,
    as are all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust the Lord!
    He is your helper and your shield.
10 O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the Lord!
    He is your helper and your shield.
11 All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord!
    He is your helper and your shield.

12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us.
    He will bless the people of Israel
    and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron.
13 He will bless those who fear the Lord,
    both great and lowly.

14 May the Lord richly bless
    both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
16 The heavens belong to the Lord,
    but he has given the earth to all humanity.
17 The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord,
    for they have gone into the silence of the grave.
18 But we can praise the Lord
    both now and forever!

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 115 is both a hymn to the Creator and a taunt to idols.  The Psalmist starts with “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.”  Sometimes in Bible studies, I will hear someone refer to “Old Testament God” – the angry, bitter God that went about smiting people.  Furthermore, to hear them speak, you would think that Old Testament God either retired, expired, or got fired, and the New Testament God took his place.  However, God does not change.  Our understanding of Him changes as we grow in our faith, and He reveals more to us. This is the Heavenly Father that Jesus reconciled us to – a Father filled with “unfailing love and faithfulness.”

The Psalmist asks, “Why let the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.”  I am reminded of when in 63 BC, the arrogant Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem.  He dared into the very heart of the Temple, look behind the Holy Veil, and to his surprise…..saw nothing.  The God of the Jews was not like the gods of the other nations.  He was not an idol, being stored in a temple.  He reigned from heaven and “does as he wishes.”

The Psalmist taunts the pagan nations, “Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.  They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.  They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound.”  Reading this description makes me laugh.  Idols, while artistically beautiful, are just high-class versions of Mr. Potato Head! And then comes the stinger – “And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.”  We often focus on the danger of making a god in our own image and forget about the other danger – that we often try to transform ourselves in the image of that god.  Writing about the ancient Greeks, G.K. Chesterton wrote that “Just as they became unnatural by worshipping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshipping man.”  Can the same be said of us?  By worshipping riches, we have become poorer.  By worshipping fame, we have become unknown.  By worshipping violence, we have no inner peace.

The Psalmist gives us the solution.  Three times, he reminds us about the Lord - “He is your helper and your shield.”  Instead of worshipping the political figures, the celebrities, the industries, the weapons, the lusts that we have created and hyped, we should worship the Creator.  Our God is not a carved rock.  He is the God who created the mountain and the valley, the river and the sea, the sun and the moon, and he has graciously given this beautiful world to us and our children.  “This is My Father’s World” as the hymn says, and we should praise him. 

I close with the benediction of the Psalmist:
“May the Lord richly bless both you and your children.  May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  The heavens belong to the Lord, but he has given the earth to all humanity.  The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord, for they have gone into the silence of the grave.  But we can praise the Lord both now and forever! Praise the Lord!”

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