Midweek Message 13 March 2024

Thank you to John for this message.

We don’t know the time or circumstances in which this psalm was composed. Some of its words indicate a time when the Israelites were, or had been, taunted by heathen peoples (v2), perhaps during or after their exile in Babylon.

v1: Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
These wonderful opening words have been significant to many people down the years. William Wilberforce, when his bill to abolish the slave trade was passed by parliament, meditated on this verse.

If someone asked you “What is your main purpose in life?”, how would you respond?
The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1644) includes:
Question: “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?
Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.”

But why glorify God? Psalm 115 gives us at least 3 good reasons:

a) Because he is the only real God (vv1-8)
There are many “gods” in the world. Our own western culture in 2024 may not have physical idols made of wood or metal or stone, but we have plenty of “god-substitutes”; whether the cult of celebrities or sport or entertainment, or a “higher standard of living”, or getting more or better stuff. Many people spend their time and energy and money on these – i.e. they worship them.
In total contrast to these idols, the true, living God is infinitely greater, and cannot be bought or manipulated or tied down or kept in a building: he is absolutely supreme (v3). And he is “our God” – not that we control him or own him, but we can have a personal relationship with him because of his steadfast love and faithfulness (v1).
So we give glory to God, not to us.

b) Because he is our help and shield (vv9-11)
The three groups specified here imply that the worshippers consist of lay Israelites, priests (house of Aaron), and non-Israelite God-fearers. All of them are to trust in the Lord, for “he is their help and their shield”. The Old Testament reveals God as the rescuer and protector of his people. Man-made “gods” are powerless, but “our God is a God who saves” (Ps.68:20). Therefore he is to be trusted in every circumstance.
We have even greater reason to trust him, because we live in the light of Jesus – Yeshua, “the Lord saves” (Matthew 1:21).
So we give glory to God, not to us.

c) Because he is the God who blesses (vv12-15)
The Lord is able not only to save but also to enrich in the deepest ways. Every type of person, every group, every generation needs the blessing of Creator God in order to truly thrive.
That blessing is expounded by Jesus in what we call the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10). He points us to startlingly different definitions of blessing, which the world cannot give.
So we give glory to God, not to us.

What is our response to these characteristics of God? Surely it must be worship and praise (vv16-18). We are to praise the Lord here and now, in the place and time he has given us. We are to praise him in the way we live, in our attitudes and actions as well as our words. We are to praise him Mondays to Saturdays, as well as Sundays.

To God be the glory! great things he has done;
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord! let the earth hear his voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord! let the people rejoice:
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son
and give him the glory; great things he has done.