Do me a favor and please read Psalm 115.
As with many psalms we simply don’t know much about this. Some commentators feel that this is a psalm that would be sung by a choir in a worship service while others have it as a prayer for the people. And while we may not know the intention of place for this psalm in the wider body and when it would have been used – we do feel its intention within the believer. This psalm is meant to encourage the believer to continue to worship the only Living God and nothing else. That regardless of what else is going on around you and whom/what others are worshipping NOTHING compares to God.
It’s no surprise to the reader of scripture that pagan worship was running amok, nor should it be any surprise that the Israelites were among those pagan worshippers before God made them his Covenant people. I don’t have the time and space (nor the knowledge) of why people have created idols of gold and silver and worshipped them. I don’t know why people would make something themselves only to then turn around and bow to it, sing to it, speak to it, and seek its voice and direction in their lives. That doesn’t make sense to me. But people all around the world have done it – and still do it today.
We may not create physical idols as once was (although there are religions out there that do this still to this day) but this psalm does challenge us in times of persecution. When the Christian is challenged by another religion, when the believer is mocked and attacked by people from different beliefs do we crumble or stand strong? Do we fear them and their god or do we stand firm in The God? This psalm is meant to encourage the believer in those times of fear when persecution is near. This psalm is meant to remind the believer of the living Lord when all those around them worship dead idols they have created with their own two hands.
In truth, this psalm means a lot to me and yet I struggle to put words down – and I think it’s because this TYPE of idol worship is not as rampant today as it was then. While we have many religions in this world with many of them bowing to manmade sculptures and idols I’m struggling with its effect on me. Am I clueless? Am I oblivious? Have I horse-blinders on and unwilling to look at the idol worship that my own surroundings show? I don’t know. Yes people worship money and their jobs and their homes and other people. Yes people create false gods and lure vulnerable people into their religions, but we don’t see or hear much of that. Maybe it’s hidden, maybe it’s blissful ignorance on my part and others, or maybe it’s just that we have become so desensitized and desiring of people to “do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t bother me” that we look the other way.
With our “unknown” info about this psalm I’m still challenged in that outside of verses 9-11 (that speak of protection and help) most of this psalm is simply declarative. Which, to me, tells me that maybe nothing “bad” was going on to the people and this psalm was simply an encouraging reminder not to fall or be ignorant to what is going on around you. Maybe this psalm is meant to challenge the believer to speak up against idol worship. Maybe this psalm is challenging me personally to not only continue to place my confidence in God but to also open up my eyes to the harm others are doing as they worship anything that is NOT God.
I think one of the biggest blessings and harms we have come to (as a “free nation”) is this idea that people have the right to believe and do whatever they want (within reason obviously). And while this freedom is what we were founded on, and while this has been a blessing it has also been a curse. No longer do we share with conviction the grace of Jesus. No longer do we push against man-made religions for fear of breaking that sacred American “Freedom of Religion” that we so love.
So maybe this psalm is a challenge for me to shake my head at idol worship and false religions and remember the living God that I love and died for me. Maybe this is a challenge for me in times of trouble and follow verses 9-11 and trust simply in God and nothing else. Or maybe this psalm is a challenge for me today to share the grace of the living Jesus with those who put their trust and hopes in something else and not worry about stepping on toes or making someone uncomfortable. All people need to know of true hope, love, sacrifice, and the eternal blessings that come from the One and only God. All people need to know the destructive path idol worship takes. All people need to know the forgiveness, hope, and love of Jesus and the fact that he died for them. All people need to know that every idol/relationship/house/job/________ that you worship and put your trust in will fall away while God and his love stand for eternity.