Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth's sake.
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(1) Not unto us . . .—This rejection of all self-praise is implied in all Hebrew poetry.

Mercy . . . truth . . .—Both a distinct reference to the covenant. Both these covenanted blessings were assailed by the heathen taunt, “Where is now their God?”

It is difficult for us to reproduce in imagination the apparent triumph, which the idolater, who could point to his deity, felt he had over the worshipper of the invisible God, when outward events seemed to be going against the latter. But we may estimate the strength of the conviction, which even under the apparent withdrawal of Divine favour, could point to the heavens as the abode of the Invisible, and to misfortune itself as a proof of the existence and power of One who could in everything do what pleased him.

Psalm 115:1-2. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us — By the repetition of these words the psalmist humbly expresses his sense of the unworthiness of the Jews to receive the signal blessings with which the Lord had favoured them; or rather, which they were now entreating him to bestow upon them, and which they expected to receive. For, as Dr. Horne justly observes, “it is evident from these two verses, that the Psalm is not a thanksgiving for victory, but a petition for deliverance.” Unto thy name give glory, &c. — As we entreat thy favour and aid, and that thou wouldest work gloriously on our behalf, so we do not desire this out of a vain-glorious disposition, that we may get renown by the conquest of our proud enemies, but that thy honour may be vindicated from all their contempts and blasphemies. For thy mercy and thy truth’s sake — If thou wilt deliver us we will not arrogate the praise and glory of the deliverance to our own merit or valour, but to thy mercy, which inclines thee to pity, pardon, and be gracious to us, and to thy truth, which disposeth thee to fulfil thy promises. Wherefore should the heathen say — Why shouldest thou give them any colour or occasion to say, with their lips, or in their hearts, Where is now their God? — Where is he who undertook to be their God and Saviour, and whom they worship, and of whom they used to boast, insulting over us, and over our gods.115:1-8 Let no opinion of our own merits have any place in our prayers or in our praises. All the good we do, is done by the power of his grace; and all the good we have, is the gift of his mere mercy, and he must have all the praise. Are we in pursuit of any mercy, and wrestling with God for it, we must take encouragement in prayer from God only. Lord, do so for us; not that we may have the credit and comfort of it, but that they mercy and truth may have the glory of it. The heathen gods are senseless things. They are the works of men's hands: the painter, the carver, the statuary, can put no life into them, therefore no sense. The psalmist hence shows the folly of the worshippers of idols.Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory - This apparently abrupt commencement of the psalm was undoubtedly in reference to some circumstances which would be well understood at the time when the psalm was composed, but which cannot be definitely ascertained now. It seems to have been in view of some existing troubles, and the language at the same time expresses a hope of the divine interposition, and a feeling that the praise of such interposition would belong wholly to God. The phrase "give glory" means, give all the honor and praise. See the notes at Psalm 29:1-2.

For thy mercy - The mercy or the favor which we seek and look for - thy gracious help in the time of trouble.

And for thy truth's sake - Thy faithfulness to thy promises; thy faithfulness to thy people. The psalmist anticipated this manifestation of faithfulness with confidence; he felt that all the praise for such an anticipated interposition would belong to God.


Ps 115:1-18. The Psalmist prays that God would vindicate His glory, which is contrasted with the vanity of idols, while the folly of their worshippers is contrasted with the trust of God's people, who are encouraged to its exercise and to unite in the praise which it occasions.

1-3. The vindication of God's mercy and faithfulness (Ps 25:10; 36:6) is the "glory" of His "name," which is desired to be illustrated in the deliverance of His people, as the implied mode of its manifestation. In view of the taunts of the heathen, faith in His dominion as enthroned in the heaven (Ps 2:4; 11:4) is avowed.

1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

Psalm 115:1

It will be well to remember that this Psalm was sung at the Passover, and therefore it bears relationship to the deliverance from Egypt. The burden of it seems to be a prayer that the living God, who had been so glorious at the Red Sea and at the Jordan, should again for his name's sake display the wonders of his power. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory." The people undoubtedly wished for relief from the contemptuous insults of idolaters, but their main desire was that Jehovah himself should no longer be the object of heathen insults. The saddest part of all their trouble was that their God was no longer feared and dreaded by their adversaries. When Israel marched into Canaan, a terror was upon all the people round about, because of Jehovah, the mighty God; but this dread the nations had shaken off since there had been of late no remarkable display of miraculous power. Therefore Israel cried unto her God that he would again make bare his arm as in the day when he cut Rahab and wounded the dragon. The prayer is evidently tinctured with a consciousness of unworthiness; because of their past unfaithfulness they hardly dared to appeal to the covenant, and to ask blessings for themselves, but they fell back upon the honour of the Lord their God - an old style of argument which their great lawgiver, Moses, had used with such effect when he pleaded, "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people." Joshua also used the like argument when he said, "What wilt thou do unto thy great name?" In such manner also let us pray when no other plea is available because of our sense of sin; for the Lord is always jealous of his honour, and will work for his name's sake when no other motive will move him.

The repetition of the words, "Not unto us," would seem to indicate a very serious desire to renounce any glory which they might at any time have proudly appropriated to themselves, and it also sets forth the vehemence of their wish that God would at any cost to them magnify his own name. They loathed the idea of seeking their own glory, and rejected the thought with the utmost detestation; again and again disclaiming any self-glorifying motive in their supplication. "For thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake." These attributes seemed most in jeopardy. How could the heathen think Jehovah to be a merciful God if he gave his people over to the hands of their enemies? How could they believe him to be faithful and true if, after all his solemn covenant engagements, he utterly rejected his chosen nation? God is very jealous of the two glorious attributes of grace and truth, and the plea that these may not be dishonoured has great weight with him. In these times, when the first victories of the gospel are only remembered as histories of a dim and distant past, sceptics are apt to boast that the gospel has lost its youthful strength and they even presume to cast a slur upon the name of God himself. We may therefore rightly entreat the divine interposition that the apparent blot may be removed from his escutcheon, and that his own word may shine forth gloriously as ill the days of old. We may not, desire the triumph of our opinions, for our own sakes, or for the honour of a sect, but we may confidently pray for the triumph of truth, that God himself may be honoured.

Psalm 115:2

"Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?" Or, more literally, "Where, pray, is their God?" Why should the nations be allowed with a sneer of contempt to question the existence, and mercy, and faithfulness of Jehovah? They are always ready to blaspheme; we may well pray that they may not derive a reason for so doing from the course of providence, or the decline of the church. When they see the godly down-trodden while they themselves live at ease, and act the part of persecutors, they are very apt to speak as if they had triumphed over God himself, or as if he had altogether left the field of action and deserted his saints. When the prayers and tears of the godly seem to be unregarded, and their miseries are rather increased than assuaged, then do the wicked multiply their taunts and jeers, and even argue that their own wretched irreligion is better than the faith of Christians, because for the present their condition is so much preferable to that of the afflicted saints. And, truly, this is the very sting of the trials of God's chosen when they see the veracity of the Lord questioned, and the name of God profaned because of their sufferings. If they could hope that some good result would come out of all this they would endure it with patience; but as they are unable to perceive any desirable result consequent thereon, they enquire with holy anxiety, "Wherefore should the heathen be permitted to speak thus?" It is a question to which it would be hard to reply, and yet no doubt there is an answer. Sometimes the nations are permitted thus to blaspheme, in order that they may fill up the measure of their iniquity, and in order that the subsequent interposition of God may be rendered the more illustrious in contrast with their profane boastings. Do they say, "Where is now their God?" They shall know by-and-by, for it is written, "Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries"; they shall know it also when the righteous shall "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Do they say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" That coming shall be speedy and terrible to them. In our own case, by our own lukewarmness and the neglect of faithful gospel preaching, we have permitted the uprise and spread of modern doubt, and we are bound to confess it with deep sorrow of soul; yet we may not therefore lose heart, but may still plead with God to save his own truth and grace from the contempt of men of the world. Our honour and the honour of the church are small matters, but the glory of God is the jewel of the universe, of which all else is but the setting; and we may come to the Lord and plead his jealousy for his name, being well assured that he will not suffer that name to be dishonoured. Wherefore should the pretended wise men of the period be permitted to say that they doubt the personality of God? Wherefore should they say that answers to prayer are pious delusions, and that the resurrection and the deity of our Lord Jesus are moot points? Wherefore should they be permitted to speak disparagingly of atonement by blood and by price, and reject utterly the doctrine of the wrath of God against sin, even that wrath which burneth for ever and ever? They speak exceeding proudly, and only God can stop their arrogant blusterings: let us by extraordinary intercession prevail upon him to interpose, by giving to his gospel such a triumphant vindication as shall utterly silence the perverse opposition of ungodly men. THE ARGUMENT

The occasion of this Psalm was to manifest some eminent danger or distress of the people of Israel from some idolatrous nations; but whether it was that mentioned 2 Chronicles 20, or what other, is but matter of conjecture, and not worth our inquiry.

The church prayeth to God to keep them, for his glorious name, Psalm 115:1-3, from the vanity of idol worship, Psalm 115:4-8; exhorteth to confidence in him, being assured of his blessing, Psalm 115:9-17. They resolve for ever to praise the Lord, Psalm 115:18.

As we entreat thy favour and aid, and that thou wouldst work gloriously on our behalf to bring us out of our present straits and extremities; so we do not desire this out of a vain-glorious humour, as usually men do in such cases, that we may get renown by the conquest of our proud and mighty enemies, but that thy honour may be vindicated from all their contempts and blasphemies; and if thou wilt deliver us, we will not arrogate the praise and glory of it to our own worth or valour, but only to thy mercy and truth.

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory,.... There is no glory due to men; no, not to the best of men, not to be given them on any account whatever; neither on account of things natural, civil, and temporal, nor on account of things spiritual and eternal; but all to be given to the Lord: for, as for their beings and the preservation of them, with all the mercies of life, food, raiment, &c. they are not of themselves, but of the Lord; and so are the salvation of their souls, their election and redemption, their regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, their justification and pardon; whatsoever good thing is in them, or done by them: nor have they anything for the sake of righteousness done by them; nor do they desire to take the glory of past favours to themselves; nor request deliverance from present evils for their own merits, which they disclaim; nor for their own sakes, or that they may be great and glorious; but for the Lord's sake, for his name's sake, that he may be glorified; which is the principal sense of the passage. So the Targum,

"not for our sakes. O Lord, not for our merit, but to thy name give glory.''

Good men desire to glorify God themselves, by ascribing to him the perfections of his nature, and celebrating them; by giving thanks to him for mercies, spiritual and temporal; by exercising faith upon him, as a promising God; and by living to his glory: and they are very desirous that all others would give him the glory due unto his name; and that he would glorify himself, and get himself a glorious and an everlasting name. And indeed the words are addressed to him, and not to others; and particularly that he would glorify, or take the glory of the following perfections:

for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake; so very manifest in the salvation of his people, and in all their deliverances, and therefore ought to have the glory of them. His "mercy", or his "grace" (w), as it may be rendered, is displayed in the salvation of his people by Christ, in their regeneration, justification, pardon, and eternal life: and so is his truth, or faithfulness in all his promises; and particularly in the mission of his Son as a Saviour, so long promised and expected; and who is "truth" himself, the truth of all promises and prophecies; and by whom the truth of the Gospel came, the Word, which God has magnified above every name.

(w) "propter gratiam tuam", Cocceius, Michaelis.

Not {a} unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

(a) Because God promised to deliver them, not for their sakes, but for his Name, Isa 48:11, therefore they ground their prayer on this promise.

1. Not unto us] Strictly speaking, this is not a deprecation, but a protestation. ‘Not for ourselves or for our own sake do we ask.’ We have no merits of our own to plead; we do not ask for our own aggrandisement. But unto thy name give glory: work mightily on behalf of Thy people, and vindicate Thine honour, for if they are despised, Thy name is dishonoured. Cp. the similar plea in Daniel 9:18-19; and see Isaiah 48:9; Isaiah 48:11; Ezekiel 20:9; Ezekiel 20:14; Ezekiel 36:21-23.

for thy lovingkindness, and for thy truth’s sake] If Jehovah does not interfere on behalf of His people, it must seem as though His fundamental attributes of love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6), exemplified in His choice of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7-8), had vanished. Cp. Psalm 77:8-9.

1–3. An appeal to God to vindicate His honour by succouring His people.Verse 1. - Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give glory. God is prayed to help Israel, but not for their sakes, not to cover them with glory - rather for his own sake, that glory may rest on his Name, and himself, among the nations. For thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake. In order to be true to his qualities of mercifulness and truthfulness. Egypt is called עם לעז (from לעז, cogn. לעג, לעה), because the people spoke a language unintelligible to Israel (Psalm 81:6), and as it were a stammering language. The lxx, and just so the Targum, renders ἐκ λαοῦ βαρβάρου (from the Sanscrit barbaras, just as onomatopoetic as balbus, cf. Fleischer in Levy's Chaldisches Wrterbuch, i. 420). The redeemed nation is called Judah, inasmuch as God made it His sanctuary (קדשׁ) by setting up His sanctuary (מקדּשׁ, Exodus 15:17) in the midst of it, for Jerusalem (el ḳuds) as Benjamitish Judaean, and from the time of David was accounted directly as Judaean. In so far, however, as He made this people His kingdom (ממשׁלותיו, an amplificative plural with Mem pathachatum), by placing Himself in the relation of King (Deuteronomy 33:5) to the people of possession which by a revealed law He established characteristically as His own, it is called Israel. 1 The predicate takes the form ותּהי, for peoples together with country and city are represented as feminine (cf. Jeremiah 8:5). The foundation of that new beginning in connection with the history of redemption was laid amidst majestic wonders, inasmuch as nature was brought into service, co-operating and sympathizing in the work (cf. Psalm 77:15.). The dividing of the sea opens, and the dividing of the Jordan closes, the journey through the desert to Canaan. The sea stood aside, Jordan halted and was dammed up on the north in order that the redeemed people might pass through. And in the middle, between these great wonders of the exodus from Egypt and the entrance into Canaan, arises the not less mighty wonder of the giving of the Law: the skipping of the mountains like rams, of the ills like בּני־צאן, i.e., lambs (Wisd. 19:9), depicts the quaking of Sinai and its environs (Exodus 19:18, cf. supra Psalm 68:9, and on the figure Psalm 29:6).
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