In Psalm 115 God’s people are called to celebrate the truth that their God, the God of Israel, is the one and only true and living God. Although the peoples of the nations may ask cynically of Israel, “Where is their God?” (v. 2), the truth is this: their God, the only true God, “is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (v. 3). The contrast with the idols of the nations could not be more painfully clear. These pretender deities, though fashioned often to appear as personal beings, have only man-made mouths that cannot speak, eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, noses that cannot smell, hands that cannot feel, and feet that cannot walk (vv. 4–7). These are the creations of man, incapable of doing anything whatsoever, and those who make them will be as impotent and inglorious as the idols themselves (v. 8).
The God of Israel, on the other hand, is full of steadfast love and faithfulness. Hence this God alone, the true and living God, the God of Israel, should receive all glory (v. 1). He can be trusted (vv. 10–11), for he will not fail to remember his people in their need, to bless and favor them as they look to him (vv. 12–15).
This psalm reflects the core of the good news that the people of God have always been told: our hope is in God, and not in ourselves. His abundant mercy, his faithful commitment, his inexorable power, and his steadfast love provide his people with the basis for full assurance of his care for them. For this reason, we place our hope and trust in God alone. Because of who God is—not because of who we are or anything of our making—“we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore” (v. 18). The supreme reason we will bless the Lord is that his powerful care for us has been decisively proven in his sending his only Son to redeem sinners and restore them back to himself.
Psalm 116 is a personal hymn of thanksgiving to God for the gracious compassion and powerful deliverance he has extended toward his servant who hopes and trusts in the Lord. Only two passages in the Psalter directly express love for God (the other being Psalm 18:1), so the intimacy of the opening expression—“I love the LORD” (Ps. 116:1)—indicates the depth of the psalmist’s warmth and gratitude toward God. Indeed, God has shown this psalmist such kindness, care, and protection amid agonizing affliction (vv. 3, 8); he therefore wants to express his deep and abiding thanksgiving.
Two observations are noteworthy: (1) The psalmist’s expression of thanksgiving is not just personal; he feels the need to express his gratitude “in the presence of all his people” (v. 14). Public worship rightly includes expressions of public praise and thanksgiving to God for personal deliverance. (2) As the psalmist reflects on what he may best “render to the LORD for all his benefits” (v. 12) to him, the answer is surprising. He responds, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD” (v. 13). Lifting up the cup of salvation is a means of putting on public display that it is God who has heard, and come, and delivered, and saved. And calling on the name of the Lord indicates the psalmist’s determination to trust God in the days ahead.
The ultimate “benefit” (v. 12) for believers today is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. When we call on the name of the Lord, it is on Christ that we call (Rom. 10:13–17). The “cup of salvation” (Ps. 116:13) that is ours has been granted to us by virtue of God’s free grace in Christ.
* Excerpt From ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.
Bible Reading Column by Pastor Charles Lee.
Mississauga Campus Lead Pastor
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Psalm 117||☐||Thursday: Psalm 120||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalm 118||☐||Friday: Psalm 121||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalm 119||☐||Saturday: Psalm 122||☐|