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Psalm 115

The Impotence of Idols and the Greatness of God

1

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.


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1 Not unto us, O Jehovah! It is not certain by whom, or at what time, this psalm was composed. 365365     “As the former psalm ended abruptly, and this is connected with it by the Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic, with nineteen MSS.; and as the following ejaculations so naturally arise from the consideration of the wonderful works of Jehovah just before recited, Lorinus’s opinion, that it is only a continuation of the former, is not improbable. Patrick refers it to 2 Chronicles 20:2. Some suppose it to be written by Moses at the Red Sea. Others, by David in the beginning of his reign. Others, by Mordecai and Esther. Others, by the three children in the fiery furnace. Perhaps by Hezekiah, or some one in the Babylonish captivity. — See Psalm 114:1.” — Dimoch. “There is nothing certain,” observes Walford, “to be concluded respecting the author of this psalm, or the occasion on which it was written. It is conjectured, however, to belong to the time of Hezekiah, and to have been composed in celebration of the very extraordinary deliverance which was afforded to that pious prince, and to his people, from the blasphemies and arrogance of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 37:37. Whether this conjecture be agreeable to the truth, we are unable to say, though a considerable probability that it is so, arises from the language of the psalm itself.” We learn from the first part of it, that the faithful betake themselves to God, in circumstances of extreme distress. They do not make known their desires in plain words, but indirectly hint at the nature of their request. They openly disclaim all merit, and all hope of obtaining deliverance otherwise than God’s doing it from a sole regard to his own glory, for these things are inseparably connected. Deserving, therefore, to meet with a repulse, they yet beseech God not to expose his name to the derision of the heathen. In their distress they desire to obtain consolation and support; but, finding nothing in themselves meritorious of God’s favor, they call upon him to grant their requests, that his glory may be maintained. This is a point to which we ought carefully to attend, that, altogether unworthy as we are of God’s regard, we may cherish the hope of being saved by him, from the respect that he has for the glory of his name, and from his having adopted us on condition of never forsaking us. It must, also be noticed, that their humility and modesty prevent them from openly complaining of their distresses, and that they do not begin with a request for their own deliverance, but for the glory of God. Suffused with shame by reason of their calamity, which, in itself, amounts to a kind of rejection, they durst not openly crave, at God’s hand, what they wished, but made their appeal indirectly, that, from a regard to his own glory, he would prove a father to sinners, who had no claim upon him whatever. And, as this formulary of prayer has once been delivered to the Church, let us also, in all our approaches unto God, remember to lay aside all self-righteousness, and to place our hopes entirely on his free favor. Moreover, when we pray for help, we ought to have the glory of God in view, in the deliverance which we obtain. And it is most likely they adopted this form of prayer, being led to do so by the promise. For, during the captivity, God had said, “Not for your sake, but for mine own sake will I do this,” Isaiah 48:11. When all other hopes fail, they acknowledge this to be their only refuge. The repetition of it is an evidence how conscious they were of their own demerit, so that, if their prayers should happen to be rejected a hundred times, they could not, in their own name, prefer any charge against him.

2 Why should the heathen say, Where is now their God? They here express how God would maintain his glory in the preservation of the Church, which, if he permitted to be destroyed, would expose his name to the impious reproaches of the heathen, who would blaspheme the God of Israel, as being destitute of power, because he forsook his servants in the time of need. This is not done from the persuasion that God requires any such representation, but rather that the faithful may direct their thoughts back to that holy zeal contained in the words to which we have formerly adverted, “The railings of those that railed against thee have fallen upon me,” Psalm 69:10. And this is the reason for not having recourse to rhetorical embellishment, to move him to put forth his power to preserve the Church; they simply protest that their anxiety for their own safety does not prevent them from valuing the glory of God, even as it is worthy of being more highly valued. They go on to show how the glory of God was connected with their deliverance, by declaring that he was the Author of the covenant, which the ungodly had boasted was abolished and disannulled; and who, consequently, had declared that the grace of God was frustrated, and that his promises were vain. This is the ground on which they remind him of his favor and faithfulness, both of which were liable to mischievous calumnies, should he disappoint the hopes of his people, to whom he was bound by an everlasting covenant; and upon whom, in the exercise of his gratuitous mercy, he had bestowed the privilege of adoption. And as God, in making us also partakers of his Gospel, has condescended to graft us into the body of his Son, we ought to make a public acknowledgement of the same.




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