Psalm 115: Flee Idols
May 22, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The psalm starts with an insistence that all of us would do well to recall and regularly recite: “Not to us” but to God’s name be the glory (115:1). Service to God is not to be self-service. Ironically, sometimes it is possible to seem as if we are serving God, but really we are serving ourselves. Let us then this morning begin by stating it in the negative: not to us be the glory. And then affirm the positive: to God be the glory.
The psalm then seeks to show God’s glory by comparing him to idols. The pagan “nations,” meaning those who do not know God, complain that God cannot be seen—he is not visible. Their idols, meanwhile, are physically present. But, the psalm retorts, idols can do nothing! “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not hear” (115:5). In other words, though they are physically made and visible, they are truly inanimate and not in any sense alive. They are merely statues, however gaudily painted or impressively daubed.
Note this: “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (115:8). We have many idols still today. Idols of commerce. Idols of entertainment. Idols of corporate business. Their statues and symbols are all around us all the time to be seen. They promise so much—wealth, power, sexuality. And yet they deliver so little—disappointment and lost-ness.
What is more, those who worship such “idols” (including the idols of our own day) inevitably take on the characteristic of that which they worship. Those who worship money become as spiritually thin as a dollar note, with little to no substance to them beyond the bottom line. Those who worship fame become as superficial as a new haircut and a new outfit, with little to no reality to them beyond their appearance. Those who worship themselves become isolated and as lonely as those with no community and divine communion can be. Therefore, the psalm is arguing that we are to flee from idols.
Would you turn from idols in your life and instead trust in God? That is what the psalm now urges the reader to do: “O Israel, trust in the Lord!” (115:9). Would you trust in God? If so, he will “remember” you, he will “bless” you (115:12), and you will praise or “bless” the Lord “from this time forth and forevermore” (115:18).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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