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The occasion of this Psalm was to manifest some eminent danger or distress of the people of Israel from some idolatrous nations; but whether it was that mentioned 2 Chronicles 20:0, or what other, is but matter of conjecture, and not worth our inquiry.
The church prayeth to God to keep them, for his glorious name, Psalms 115:1-3, from the vanity of idol worship, Psalms 115:4-8; exhorteth to confidence in him, being assured of his blessing, Psalms 115:9-17. They resolve for ever to praise the Lord, Psalms 115:18.
As we entreat thy favour and aid, and that thou wouldst work gloriously on our behalf to bring us out of our present straits and extremities; so we do not desire this out of a vain-glorious humour, as usually men do in such cases, that we may get renown by the conquest of our proud and mighty enemies, but that thy honour may be vindicated from all their contempts and blasphemies; and if thou wilt deliver us, we will not arrogate the praise and glory of it to our own worth or valour, but only to thy mercy and truth.
Wherefore should the heathen say? why dost thou suffer them, or give them any colour or occasion, to say or think so, by conniving at their wickedness, and by giving thy people into their hands?
Where is now their God? he is no where; he is lost, or at a loss, either unable, or unwilling, or not at leisure to save them.
Their God; who hath undertaken to be their God and Saviour, and whom they only worship, and of whom they use to boast and insult over us and over our gods.
Our God; whom, notwithstanding your reproaches, we are not ashamed to own for our God.
Is in the heavens; although he have no visible shape nor bodily presence with us here upon earth, as your idols have, which is a certain proof of their baseness and weakness, yet he hath a certain and a glorious place where he resideth, even the highest heavens, where he is clothed with infinite power and majesty, and from whence he beholdeth and governeth this lower world, and all that is in it. He hath done whatsoever he pleased; or,
he doth, & c. By his only will and pleasure all things were at first made, and are still disposed, and without this nothing cometh to pass. And therefore all your insolences, and injuries, and successes against us do not come from an invincible power in you or in your idols, nor from any defect of strength or goodness in our God, but only from hence, that it pleased him for many wise and good reasons to afflict us, and to give you prosperity for a time.
Thus glorious and powerful is our God, O ye heathens, of whom you so boldly ask who and where he is; but as for your gods or idols, they have no power nor worth in them but what is taken from their materials. As their matter is wholly from the earth, so their form or figure they have from the art of man; and therefore they should rather, if it were possible, worship man, as their creator and lord, than be worshipped by him.
For although the blind heathen are by their idolatrous priests made to believe otherwise concerning their idols, in regard of the spirits which they pretend to dwell in them, yet this is the truth of the matter, and confirmed by long and constant experience, that they are but vain and senseless things; they can neither
speak in answer to your prayers of inquiries, nor see what you do or what you want, nor hear your petitions, nor smell your incenses and sacrifices, nor handle or use their hands, either to take any thing from you, or to give any filing to you: nor so much as mutter, or give the least signification of their apprehension of your condition and concerns.
Speak, or mutter, or make a noise, as this word signifies, Isaiah 10:14. They are so far from speaking with their throat and other instruments of speech as men do, that they cannot make such an inarticulate and senseless sound with them as the beasts do.
They that make them; or, they that observe or worship them. For the psalmist’s quarrel was not so much with those few artists who formed the images, as with all the adorers of them. And the word here rendered make doth sometimes signify to worship, as some understand it, not without probability, Exodus 32:35, because they made (i.e. worshipped) the calf which Aaron made, and as in other languages words answering to this do signify, as hath been oft observed by learned men; and it oft signifies to observe; as when men are said to make (as it is in the Hebrew) the sabbath, Deuteronomy 5:15, and the release, and the passover, and the feast of weeks, as Deuteronomy 15:1; Deuteronomy 16:1,Deuteronomy 16:10.
Are like unto them: this is a sharp reflection, either,
1. Upon the idols, whose highest preferment it is to be made like unto man, a mortal, weak, and miserable creature, infinitely inferior to the true God. Or,
2. To the makers or worshippers of them, who by this absurd and foolish action show that they are as ignorant, and stupid, and void of all sense and reason as their images.
O Israel, do not thou follow the example of these brutish idolaters, but serve the Lord only.
Their help; who trust in God, as he now required. Or
their is put for your by a change of persons, which is most frequent in Scripture, and especially in these books.
You priests and Levites proceeding from Aaron, or related to him, who have special reason and many obligations to do it, who have a more distinct knowledge of God, which is the foundation of trust, Psalms 9:10, and who are to be both instructors of and examples to the people in this as well as in other duties.
All and every one of you who worship the true God, not only Aaronites and Israelites, but even Gentile proselytes, who are said to come to trust under the wings of the God of Israel, Ruth 2:12. And such there were many at this time in the church of Israel, whom therefore he fitly invites to trust God, because he is no less their than the Israelites’ help and shield, as it follows.
Hath been mindful of us in our former straits and calamities, and therefore we trust he will still
bless us, & c. as it follows. Or, is or will be mindful of us. Though he hath chastened us sore, yet he hath not yet cast us out of the care of his providence.
Either in age or condition, of whatsoever quality, high and low, rich and poor; for he is no respecter of persons.
Shall increase you in number, notwithstanding all the attempts of your enemies to diminish and destroy you. Or, shall add to you, to wit, further and greater blessings.
Who therefore can bless you indeed in spite of all your enemies curses and oppositions; and not of an impotent idol, that can do you neither good nor hurt.
Are the Lord’s, to wit, in a peculiar manner, where he dwelleth in that light and glory to which no man can approach, and whence he beholdeth and disposeth all persons and things upon earth.
But the earth hath he given to the children of men, for their habitation, possession, and use. But these words may be and are thus rendered by others, and the earth which (which particle is very oft understood) he hath given, &c. And then as the foregoing verse declared that God was the Creator of heaven and earth, Psalms 115:15, so this asserts that he is also their Lord and Governor, to dispose of all men and things as he pleaseth.
The dead; such as we shall suddenly be, if thou dost not succour us.
Into silence; into the place of silence, the grave.
But we will bless the Lord; but we hope for better things, that notwithstanding our present and urgent danger, yet thou wilt deliver us, and so give us occasion to bless thy name; whereby thou wilt have the praise and glory of our deliverance.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 115". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14