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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 115

 

 

Verse 1

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

Psalms 115:1-18.-Yahweh, vindicate the glory of thy name, at stake in thy people's misery (Psalms 115:1); let not the pagan taunt us, Where is their God? for our God is in heaven, and doth what He wills; but the idols are vanity as are their makers and their worshippers (Psalms 115:2-8); Israel should trust in Yahweh as their shield, who blesses them that fear Him (Psalms 115:9-15); as heaven is the Lord's, so the earth He hath given to men; He will not suffer His people to be cast into the silent grave by their foes, but will be the subject of their earthly praises (Psalms 115:16-18). The time was after the captivity, when God had shown Himself "mindful" of His people (Psalms 115:12), a pledge that He would still bless them. "The house of Aaron" (Psalms 115:10), the priests, were then the main leaders of the people.

Not unto us, O Lord ... but unto thy name give glory. Israel implies, though not directly, yet virtually, We ask for thy succour, not for any merit in us, which we are sensible does not exist, but for the glory of thy name, which is at stake in our preservation. So Daniel pleads, Daniel 9:18 (cf. Psalms 79:9-10; and God's reply, Isaiah 43:22-25; Isaiah 48:11, "For mine own sake ... will I do it: for how should my name be polluted?" Ezek. 26:32 ). As His 'mercy and truth' called forth His glorious manifestation of Himself in past acts (which manifestation constitutes His name); so these attributes are now appealed to as the ground for new acts in vindication of His name or manifestation as merciful and true. He has mercy on His people, and is ever true to His promises to name or manifestation as merciful and true. He has mercy on His people, and is ever true to His promises to them.


Verse 2

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

Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? - from Psalms 79:10. The sneer of the pagan at the seeming inability of Israel's God to help her, is sure to bring God to her help, though for a time He has hidden His power. The contrast which follows between the omnipotence of God to do what He wills, and the helplessness of the idols, ensures the same result, if only Israel will trust in the Lord (Psalms 115:9-11).


Verse 3

But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

But our God is in the heavens. The "our" is emphatic. The pagan do not know the infinite distance that separates OUR God from their idols (Psalms 2:4; Psalms 11:4; Psalms 103:19). He is with heavenly majesty raised far above the earth, which is the home of the idols. These idols are the devices of earthly men, and therefore subject to earthly powerlessness.

He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased - whereas the idols cannot do what they will; nay, cannot even wish or will anything, being but idols. God (cf. Genesis 18:14) can effect, as soon as He wills, whatsoever He willeth. It was not from want of power, but because of His goodness, wisdom, and justice, that He heretofore suffered Israel to be afflicted. In His own good time, and according to the good pleasure of His will, He will restore Israel (Ephesians 1:5; Acts 1:6-7). So as to the spiritual Israel in affliction.


Verse 4-5

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not. Drawn from Deuteronomy 4:28. The Hebrew for "idols" expresses literally 'pains,' expressing the sorrows which they bring upon their worshippers [ `


Verse 6

They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:

They have ears, but they hear not. Contrast with this and Psalms 115:5 the description of our God, Psalms 94:9.


Verse 7

They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak they through their throat - literally, 'neither do they utter (even) a whisper' [ haagah (Hebrew #1897)], or 'mutter through their throat.'


Verse 8

They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

They that make them are like unto them. Deuteronomy 7:25-26 first laid down this great principle, "Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them (the idols) ... Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it." No people or individuals rise in character higher than their gods. Each man is as his god is. The servant of the all-gracious God partakes of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), His holiness and righteousness (Ephesians 4:24; Hebrews 12:10; 1 John 3:2), being changed more and more into the same glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18). The servant of corrupt gods, whether material images or the idols of self, carnal imaginations, and pride of intellect, becomes debased like his idol. Psalms 115:4-12 are almost verbally repeated in Psalms 135:15-19.


Verse 9

O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield - (Psalms 33:20.) "Their help" - namely, the help of the Israelites. From speaking to them, he passes to speaking of them.


Verse 10

O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord. The ministers of the sanctuary, as being the spiritual guides of the people, should lead the way in trusting in the Lord.


Verse 11

Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. Reverential and filial fear of the Lord is close akin to trust in Him. The phrase, "Ye that fear the Lord," comprises all the true "seed of Jacob" (Psalms 22:23), "both small and great" (Psalms 115:13); the laity, as distinguished from "the house of Aaron," the priests. Thus Psalms 115:9 is Israel in general; Psalms 115:10, the priests; Psalms 115:11, the laity. Compare Psalms 118:3; Psalms 135:20.


Verse 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.

The Lord hath been mindful of us - by releasing us from the Babylonian captivity. This group of psalms evidently alludes to some recent deliverance (Psalms 116:17-18 : cf. Psalms 107:1-43, introductory notes).

He will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. This and Psalms 115:13 is the three-fold response and acknowledgment of blessing, answering to the three-fold call to Israel collectively, the house of Aaron, and them that fear the Lord, to trust in Him, and so obtain the blessing (Psalms 115:9-11).


Verse 13

He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.

He will bless them that fear the Lord, (both) small and great - (Jeremiah 31:34.)


Verse 14

The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children.

The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children - (Deuteronomy 1:11.) The Hebrew is literally, 'The Lord shall add upon you, upon you and upon your children.' There is an allusion to the name Joseph, the same Hebrew, Genesis 30:24, "she called his name Joseph (i:e., adding), and said, the Lord shall add to me another son." To this Joab alludes, 2 Samuel 24:3 (Isaiah 26:15). The words, "you and your children," imply that the increase was to begin at that time, just after the return from Babylon; but that the full increase is reserved for the days of Israel's final glory with Messiah (Isaiah 66:7-13).


Verse 15

Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.

Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth - alluding to Melchizedek's blessing upon Abraham, the first father of Israel, the heir of Abraham's blessing, "Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:19). As being the 'Maker of heaven and earth,' He is infinitely rich in power to make His people "blessed," however many be their troubles, and however strong their enemies. On the contrary, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens" (Jeremiah 10:11).


Verse 16

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

The heaven, (even) the heavens, are the Lord's; but the earth hath he given to the children of men. Though He owns earth and heaven alike (Psalms 89:11), He has given, in His goodness, the earth to be man's heritage, wherein God lavishes upon man His blessings, and expects man's praises (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1). God will not allow His loving purpose to be frustrated by letting His elect people among "the children of men" to be extirpated from the earth by their enemies. Compare Habakkuk 1:14-17 - Hebrew, 'the heavens, heavens;' the latter without the article: perhaps the former point to the visible heavens; the latter, the general name for all that is above the earth.


Verse 17

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.

The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence - not denying that God can receive praise from disembodied souls, but that the dead can praise God on earth. God will not allow His elect nation (or its spiritual antitype the Church) to be consigned to the 'silent' (Psalms 94:17) grave; because then He would be robbed of the praise on earth which His people alone give Him.


Verse 18

But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.

But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore - i:e., we shall have the opportunity still given us by Him to bless Him from this time and forever (Psalms 118:17). These two verses contain the plea why Yahweh should and must deliver His people from extinction. Compare Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:9; Psalms 88:10-12; Isaiah 38:18-19.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 115:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-115.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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