Psalm 135:15
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
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(15, 16) With slight variations from Psalm 115:4-8.

Psalm 135:15-18. The idols of the heathen are silver and gold — Here he sets forth the difference between the God of Israel and the idols of the nations, as also between the worshippers of each, all tending to confirm the truth of what was asserted, Psalm 135:5, I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Of these verses, see the notes on Psalm 115:4-5.

135:15-21 These verses arm believers against idolatry and all false worship, by showing what sort of gods the heathen worshipped. And the more deplorable the condition of the Gentile nations that worship idols, the more are we to be thankful that we know better. Let us pity, and pray for, and seek to benefit benighted heathens and deluded sinners. Let us endeavour to glorify his name, and recommend his truth, not only with our lips, but by holy lives, copying the example of Christ's goodness and truth.The idols of the heathen are silver and gold ... - To show more fully the propriety of praising God, and him alone as God, the psalmist instituted a comparison between him and idols, showing that the gods worshipped by the pagan lacked every ground of claim to divine worship and homage. They were, after all that could be done to fashion, to decorate, and to adorn them, nothing but silver and gold, and could have no better claim to worship than silver and gold as such. They had, indeed, mouths, eyes, ears, but they could neither speak, see, hear, nor breathe. The passage here is substantially the same as in Psalm 115:4-8; and the one was evidently copied from the other, though in the latter the description is in some respects amplified; but which was the original it is impossible to determine. See the notes at that passage. 15-18. (Compare Ps 115:4-8).15 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.

16 They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;

17 They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.

18 They that make them are like unto them, so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 135:15

"The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands." Their essential material is dead metal, their attributes are but the qualities of senseless substances, and what of form and fashion they exhibit they derive from the skill and labour of those who worship them. It is the height of insanity to worship metallic manufactures. Though silver and gold are useful to us when we rightly employ them, there is nothing about them which can entitle them to reverence and worship. If we did not know the sorrowful fact to be indisputable, it would seem to be impossible that intelligent beings could bow down before substances which they must themselves refine from the ore, and fashion into form. One would think it less absurd to worship one's own hands than to adore that which those hands have made. What great works can these mock deities perform for man when they are themselves the works of man? Idols are fitter to be played with, like dolls by babes, than to be adored by grown-up men. Hands are better used in breaking than in making objects which can be put to such an idiotic use. Yet the heathen love their abominable deities better than silver and gold: it were well if we could say that some professed believers in the Lord had as much love for him.

Psalm 135:16

"They have mouths." For their makers fashioned them like themselves. An opening is made where the mouth should be, and yet it is no mouth, for they eat not, they speak not. They cannot communicate with their worshippers; they are dumb as death. If they cannot even speak, they are not even so worthy of worship as our children at school. Jehovah speaks, and it is done; but these images utter never a word. Surely, if they could speak, they would rebuke their rotaries. Is not their silence a still more powerful rebuke? When our philosophical teachers deny that God has made any verbal revelation of himself they also confess that their god is dumb.

"Eyes have they, but they see not." Who would adore a blind man - how can the heathen be so mad as to bow themselves before a blind image? The eyes of idols have frequently been very costly; diamonds have been used for that purpose; but of what avail is the expense, since they see nothing? If they cannot even see us, how can they know our wants, appreciate our sacrifices, or spy out for us the means of help? What a wretched thing, that a man who can see should bow down before an image which is blind! The worshipper is certainly physically in advance of his god, and yet mentally he is on a level with it; for assuredly his foolish heart is darkened, or he would not so absurdly play the fool.

Psalm 135:17

"They have ears," and very large ones too, if we remember certain of the Hindoo idols. "But they hear not." Useless are their ears; in fact, they are mere counterfeits and deceits. Ears which men make are always deaf the secret of hearing is wrapped up with the mystery of life, and both are in the unsearchable mind of the Lord. It seems that these heathen gods are dumb, and blind, and deaf - a pretty bundle of infirmities to be found in a deity! "Neither is there any breath in their mouths;" they are dead, no sign of life is perceptible; and breathing, which is of the essence of animal life, they never know. Shall a man waste his breath in crying to an idol which has no breath? Shall life offer up petitions to death? Verily, this is a turning of things upside down.

Psalm 135:18

"They that make them are like unto them:" they are as blockish, as senseless, as stupid as the gods they have made, and, like them they are the objects of divine abhorrence, and shall be broken in pieces in due time. "So is every one that trusteth in them." The idol-worshippers are as bad as the idol-makers; for if there were none to worship, there would be no market for the degrading manufacture. Idolaters are spiritually dead, they are the mere images of men, their best being is gone, they are not what they seem. Their mouths do not really pray, their eyes see not the truth, their ears hear not the voice of the Lord, and the life of God is not in them. Those who believe in their own inventions in religion betray great folly, and an utter absence of the quickening Spirit. Gracious men can see the absurdity of forsaking the true God and setting up rivals in his place; but those who perpetrate this crime think not so, on the contrary, they pride themselves upon their great wisdom, and boast of "advanced thought" and "modern culture." Others there are who believe in a baptismal regeneration which does not renew the nature, and they make members of Christ and children of God who have none of the spirit of Christ, or the signs of adoption, May we be saved from such mimicry of divine work lest we also become like our idols.

Of this and the following verses, See Poole "Psalm 115:4", See Poole "Psalm 115:5", &c.

The idols of the Heathen are silver and gold,.... This, with what follows, is observed, to show that when God judges his people, and takes vengeance on their enemies, the idols they serve will not be able to protect them, and deliver them out of his hands; and also to prove what is before asserted, that our Jehovah is great above all gods, Psalm 135:5; the matter of which they are made is at best gold and silver, which are the dust and metals of the earth, or what the prophet calls thick clay, Habakkuk 2:6; and are the creatures of Jehovah, and at his dispose, who says, the silver and the gold are mine, Haggai 2:8; and who is infinitely above them in value and worth; even the knowledge of him, and the words of his mouth, doctrines, and precepts, are better than gold and silver, Proverbs 3:14;

the work of men's hands; which they form out of gold and silver into such shapes and figures, and therefore can never have deity in them; and a most stupid thing it is to imagine that the Godhead is like to gold and silver, graven by art and man's device, Acts 17:29; See Gill on Psalm 115:4.

The {g} idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.

(g) By showing the punishment God appoints for the heathen idolaters, he warns his people to beware of the same offences, seeing that idols have neither power nor life, and that their deliverance came not by idols, but by the mighty power of God, see Ps 115:4-14.

15–18. Taken with some alterations from Psalm 115:4-8. The nonentity of the heathen gods is contrasted with the sovereignty of Jehovah.

Verses 15-18. - The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them. A condensed recitation of Psalm 115:4-8 (comp. Jeremiah 10:3-5). In its present place it is a sort of exposition of ver. 5b. Psalm 135:15For the good of His proved church He ever proves Himself to be the Living God, whereas idols and idol-worshippers are vain - throughout following Psalm 115:4-8, but with some abridgments. Here only the אף used as a particle recalls what is said there of the organ of smell (אף) of the idols that smells not, just as the רוּח which is here (as in Jeremiah 10:14) denied to the idols recalls the הריח denied to them there. It is to be rendered: also there is not a being of breath, i.e., there is no breath at all, not a trace thereof, in their mouth. It is different in 1 Samuel 21:9, where אין ישׁ (not אין) is meant to be equivalent to the Aramaic אין אית, num (an) est; אין is North-Palestinian, and equivalent to the interrogatory אם (after which the Targum renders אלּוּ אית).
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