Psalm 115

Psalm 115 is one of the psalms sung at the Passover and may well have been sung by Jesus and his disciples during their Passover meal. This psalm begins by directing glory to God. It is almost like singing the well-known hymn “To God be the Glory.”

It is the heaven taunts of “Where is their God” which causes the Psalmist to present a defence of Israel’s God. Perhaps the words of this Psalm were with Jesus as he was mocked by the crowds at his crucifixion.

What an argument the Psalmist puts against idolatry. A mere statue crafted from human hands. But a statue that remains mute, deaf, blind and paralysed. The argument could be taken even further. Since the maker is always greater than the things he makes, these idols must be honoured less than the artist who made them. How stupid! How could people worship idols which are less than themselves? A man creates a ‘god’ and then bows down and worships it as his spiritual superior. Did these ancient pagans assign to their ‘gods’ the power to create new life, control the world or to heal the sick?

The Christian response is how could you have a personal relationship with a mere statue? Can a mere man make a statue which would love you enough to die for your sins? That type of idol worship has now been replaced by other more modern forms of idol worship.

The modern response is to say that idol worshippers are as stupid as the idols they worship. In their arrogance they would say such thinking has to be rejected in the 21st century, thinking. No scientific thinking person could accept such thinking.

However during the recent cricket ball tampering scandal, an ABC journalist Stan Grant, headlined “Australia’s cheating scandal is about more than cricket”.

He writes, “In a world of fake news, politicians who lie and bankers who have fleeced customers, why do we expect athletes to be defenders of our collective morality?”

“Sport is not our saviour. It doesn’t exist on some higher plain. It is a reflection of us.”

“Our cricketers are products of our age, where the individual is exalted above society.”

“American political scientist, Patrick Deneen, says our society is ‘caught in a trap of its own making’, where the worship of the individual has created a moral psychic vacuum.”

This is no accident: this is the world we have created.”

Yes I believe the journalist to be right. Now we live in a society without absolute divine morality. As a result we will then live in a society that has rubbery ethics. As our society departs from Christian belief we need to be aware of the subtle ways in which idol worship is becoming part of daily life. So in v8, the psalmist warns that idol manufactures will become like the idols they have created with no promise of eternal life, as will all those who trust in them.

The psalm ends with great encouragement for believers. God will be our help and shield. We who serve the living God will ourselves live on, unlike those who worship lifeless objects.

So in verse 18 we get a promise of the afterlife. It is we who praise the Lord, both now and forever. Even eternity cannot exhaust the reasons why God should be glorified.

Ross Bloomfield