Summary: As humans, our default position is to be self-centered. And unless we are aware of it and address it, we will always act in our own best self-interest. But as the Psalms show us, we are not the center of the universe - God is. And that's a very good thing
Psalm 115 is all about how silly we as humans can be, thinking we can actually do anything apart from God. It is also about who really gets the glory—God or us? By the way, many of the lines in this psalm are also found in Psalm 135.
1 – 3
If more of us would live by verse 1 of this psalm we would be so much better off. Life does not revolve around us but around God. It is God’s creation, and God’s universe.
This mistake of thinking we are the center of the universe comes to us, not from God, but from Lucifer in the Garden of Eden. Prior to that he rebelled against God with this statement:
Is. 14:14 “I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Why it is important for us to know the futility of this boast is found in the balance of the psalm.
First: God is the only One who is truly good, the only One who is loving and faithful. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 “There is only One who is good.” He meant God alone is good.
Second: Because of what people say about God. For some reason at the writing of this psalm God was absent or hadn’t shown Himself to Israel. Today we hear much the same thing. “God is just a myth” they say. The truth is that just because we don’t see Him is not an indication of His existence or non-existence. God lives in a different dimension (“heaven”) and He is not dependent at all on us!
But because God doesn’t dance to our tune, we turn to other places and things we can see and manipulate for answers. They are called idols.
4 – 8
Idols in those days were literally made of wood, silver, or gold. They were supposed to be physical representations of the gods behind them. And if you did certain things you could get that god to do something for you. It meant they didn’t have to depend on an invisible God who does what He pleases rather than what pleases us.
The problem is that they don’t really exist. Oh, there might be some power there—but it is from demons that don’t want what pleases us either. They only want to enslave us and keep us from depending on and serving Yahweh.
Are there idols today? Absolutely. An idol, in fact, is anything that stands between you and trusting God. It can be money, power, beauty, pleasure, intelligence, and even family.
We have certain needs but don’t depend on God to fulfill them in His way so we turn to idols to get what we think we want, not what God knows we need.
So the psalmist encourages his nation to turn back to trusting (seek refuge in, put confidence and hope in) Yahweh completely.
9 – 18
The obvious encouragement is not to trust dumb evil idols but to trust a good God who will provide what you need in terms of satisfaction and protection.
In response to that trust, God will bless.
He will bless us with fruitfulness (vs 14)
He is the source of everything we need (vs 15)
God is in control of everything (vs 16)
Idols and their masters are destined for eternal death. They will never praise God and their voices will be silenced.
But if we trust in God we will continue to praise Him forever and ever!
This psalm could, in a way, be the response to someone who read Psalm 115 and decided that even though their situation was dire, they would dare to trust God anyway.
1 – 2
The Hebrew word “love” here in verse one is interesting. It is associated with a covenantal relationship of disciple to Lord (see 119:47-48, Dt 6:5). So as we commit ourselves to God we realize that He hears our cries for mercy. And because God hears us, we will continue to cry out to Him.
We cannot just cry out to God and think He hears us.
Is. 59:1 Indeed, the LORD’s hand is not too short to save,
and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
2 But your iniquities have built barriers
between you and your God,
and your sins have made Him hide His face from you
so that He does not listen.
It is only through God’s doing that He hears and helps. Later in Isaiah 59 it says:
The LORD saw that there was no justice,
and He was offended.
16 He saw that there was no man—
He was amazed that there was no one interceding;
so His own arm brought salvation,
and His own righteousness supported Him.
So the psalmist next describes his dire situation: