Praise to Jehovah the Living & True God

a brief study of Psalm 115, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 19 Nov 2010


Psalm 115 is another of the Psalms included in what the Jews call the “Egyptian Hallel.” The “Egyptian Hallel” is so-called because of its allusions and references to the exodus of God’s people from Egypt. It was during the Exodus that God instituted the Passover Feast. Therefore, these psalms were commonly sung by God’s people in olden days whenever they observed the Passover.

Psalm 115 does not seem to refer to the Exodus. But if you think about it, you will realise that the theme of this psalm is actually exactly what the LORD was seeking to teach His people and to show to the world—namely that He alone is the living and true God! All the so-called gods of Egypt were dumb idols!

Psalm 115, as such, gave expression to many a soldier of Christ as they fought intense battles under the banner of their King. The early Christians, for example, are said to have sung verses 4 and 5 of this psalm when they defied imperial orders to sacrifice to Ceasar: Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands,” they declared. Likewise, Cromwell was said to meditate on a verse from the psalm each time he went into battle. In October 1645, in the battle of Basing, the words he meditated on was Psalm 115:8, “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (Ps 115:8). Again, Psalm 115 affords words of meditation for those who have been granted victories in their battles for the Lord. William Wilberforce, whose labours resulted in the abolition of slavery in the modern world, for example would often meditate on verse 1 of this psalm whenever the Lord gave him success: “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory…” (Ps 115:1)

We may entitle this psalm: “Praise to Jehovah the Living & True God.” It has 4 parts: (1) Verses 1-2 is a call to the Lord to glorify Himself; (2) Verses 3-8 is a declaration of God’s Sovereignty; (3) Verses 9-11 is a call to faith; and finally (4) Verses 12-15 is an assurance of blessing.

Let’s look at these 4 parts briefly.


1. Call to the LORD to Glorify Himself

1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. 2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

Our Lord teaches us to pray “Hallowed by thy name!” The opening words of this psalm gives us words to express the same. There are times when we face intense battles as the servants of the LORD, and the name of the LORD would be in danger of being sneered at by our enemies. At such times, we must petition all the more earnestly that the LORD will glorify Himself.

Lord, it is not for my glory; Lord, it is not for our glory; but it is for Thy glory we plead. For Thy mercy, truth and faithfulness sake, wouldst Thou arise on behalf of Thy children. Thou hast given us Thy Son that we might know Thy mercy. Through Him Thou hast shown us Thy truth and faithfulness. Thy Son trusted in Thee, and His tormentors jeered: “He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Lk 23:35).” Thou didst vindicate Him by raising Him from the dead and so silenced the clamour of the ignorant and ungodly. Oh wouldst Thou not do the same for us and vindicate Thy great and holy Name! Let not Thy Name be trampled upon by the heathen, O Lord!

Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

The heathen know not what they say, for their idea of God is a helpless block of wood or metal. But our God is the sovereign Living and True God.


2. Declaration of God’s Sovereignty

3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

Our LORD is the I AM, the alone self-existent Creator of the heavens and the earth. Not only has He made all things, but He is ordering all things by His sovereign power.

Not so the idols of man’s imagination. They have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, noses that smell not, hands that touch not, feet that walk not, and throats that make no noise. They are not only powerless but totally helpless. How foolish to make them! How foolish to worship them! How foolish to trust them! Those who make them and trust them are in God’s sight no different from their idols: foolish, powerless and abominable.

Therefore let us remind one another and call one another to trust in the LORD.


3. Call to Faith

9 O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. 11 Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

The LORD alone is the living and true God worthy of all our trust. Let us call upon Israel or the whole church to put their trust in Him. He is our help and our shield. He is able to lift us up in times of need. He is able to protect us in times of danger.

Let us call upon the house of Aaron, or all who serve the LORD as His officers to put their trust in Him. He is their help and their shield. He will strengthen their trembling hands and feeble knees. He will protect them from the assault of the wicked One.

Let us call upon all who fear the LORD to trust in Him. “O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him” (Ps 34:9). Those who fear the LORD with loving reverence will know His blessing in every aspect of their lives. They can have the assurance of the LORD’s love through every trial. They will know the LORD’s protection through every painful experience, for He will see to it that all things will work together for their good.

Let us therefore remind one another to trust the LORD. Indeed, let us encourage ourselves in times of doubt, with mutual…


4. Assurances of Blessing

 12 The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. 13 He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.

The LORD has been mindful of us. We have known His blessings. Let us be assured that He will continue to bless us. He will bless us corporately. He will bless our leaders. He will bless especially those who fear Him and love Him whether they be great or small.

So fear the LORD, brethren, and fear the LORD, children. The LORD our God is not a dumb idol. His blessings, helps and protections are real.

He has demonstrated it in our lives and the lives of our brethren in the faith past and present. He will continue to demonstrate it in many ways.

The LORD is the maker of heaven and earth (v. 15). He will increase us spiritually and numerically. He will, by His Spirit, cause us to grow in His grace individually, as families and as a church. He will, by His providential power, cause us to grow in number and strength as families and as a church. He will even bless us with the material things of this world for our enjoyment (v. 16).

This being the case, what shall we do but praise the LORD? The dead will not praise the LORD. Those who are in Christ are alive even when they die; but those who are without Christ are dead even while they live. They will not praise the LORD. They may in their ignorance while they live, praise the gods of human imagination, but they will not praise Him who is the giver of life.

Therefore, let us who are alive praise Him! For Christ’s sake, He has changed our heart, opened our eyes, unstopped our ears and loosened our tongues. He made us to understand and experience His mercy or love; and His truth or faithfulness. How shall we not praise Him? How shall we not praise Him from this time forth and for evermore?


Conclusion

Dearly beloved brethren and children, do you realise what a great privilege it is to know the living and true God and to be adopted as His sons and daughters?

Had it not been that the LORD has shown us mercy, we shall still be in the bondage of sin and idolatry. The natural mind is an idol factory. Unless our mind had found rest in Christ we would have sought to worship an idol. It might be an idol of wood, metal and stone. Or it might be the idol of wealth, money and status. Or we might have elevated ourselves to the status of God and be guilty of I-dolatry.

Thanks be to God, we have been delivered from the foolishness of idolatry and turned to serve the Living and True God (1 Th 1:9). Thank God for the privilege of being made His sons and daughters in Christ. Only let us trust Him. He is our help and our shield. Let us praise Him and serve Him come what may in our present life. Let us thank Him when in addition to the privilege of knowing Him, He has blessed us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Amen. Ω