The Heathen Taunt, and What Came of it
Psalm 115:1-18
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth's sake.…

To Israel, recently returned from exile, that taunt still seemed to sound in their ears. In this psalm, apparently a liturgical one, and used at high festivals in the service of the second temple, the mocking question of those who had held them in captivity - "Where is now their God?" was yet audible, through the keenness with which it was remembered. The sting and anguish of it still rankled in their hearts; and this psalm is the result of it. Consider, then -

I. THE MOCKING QUESTION OF THE HEATHEN, "Where is now," etc.? This, no doubt, was often asked. They had heard of the ancient glories of Israel, and the wonderful works God had done for them; but what a contrast was now presented - the abject condition into which Israel had fallen! And the character of the people also, as a whole, won scant respect. It was but a remnant, an elect few, that cherished the sacred memories of the past, and who were prepared, when opportunity came, to go back to their own land. But to the faithful few the question was full of pain. And here, in this psalm, we see -


1. It humbled them before God. Ver. 1 is a confession of their own unworthiness, that no glory was due to them. And today, when the world mocks and scorns as it does, the people of God may well make like confession and similar disclaimer of all merit. Had the Church been different, the world would not have mocked as it does.

2. It led them to God to seek his aid, that this mockery on the part of the heathen should cease (ver. 2). They desired that God would manifest his glory, and so silence the heathen scorn. And this is the need of the Church today. Let God be seen in our midst, and the taunt of the world will sink into silence.

3. Submission to God's will. (Ver. 3.) They knew that God was in the heavens, possessed of all power, wisdom, holiness; and whatever he pleased could only be right. It was not for them to dictate, but only to submit. They could trust him, that in due time he would interpose.

4. Scorn of idols and those who worshipped them. (Vers. 4-8.) The very brightness of their conception of God showed up all the more the darkness of ignorance in which the heathen lived. And the psalm pours out its sacred scorn of these mere dolls before which the heathen bowed down. Hence the scathing sarcasm and concentrated con tempt of these memorable verses. But has the day passed when men's "idols are silver and gold"? Is not that the exact description of ourselves as a nation? Do not we worship silver and gold? Would that we could but catch the contagion of the contempt which pervades these verses for our idols of today! We need to, and shall have to; and if we will not learn by gentle means, God will have to purge us of our idolatry by methods sharp and terrible, like as those by which Israel was brought to a better mind.

5. Earnest endeavor to arouse one another to trust only and altogether in God. (Vers. 12-15.) Would that the world's contempt of Christians today led them thus earnestly to stir one another up to a more completely God-surrendered life!

6. Renewed assurance of the grace and goodness of the Lord in his faithful people. (Vers. 12-15.) This follows on - it always does - earnest endeavor to deepen the hold of God on the hearts of others. Our own hearts come to be filled with deep and blessed sense of God's love, and the witness of the Spirit is beard full and clear within.

7. Fresh consecration to God. This seems to be the force of the concluding verses of the psalm (vers. 16-18). The Lord in the heavens is sure to do his part; but we are here to do ours. Our time, however, is but short, for we are hastening to the grave where the dead are, and where none can praise God; therefore let us use our time well; and, God helping us, we will (ver. 18).


1. How completely was the heart of Israel turned round! Their besetting sin before the Exile had been idolatry and departure from God. But now! God knows how to turn our hearts altogether to himself.

2. The contrast of the Christian's faith as to the life after this with the faith of Israel. Theirs is dark, ours is bright. - S.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.

WEB: Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your loving kindness, and for your truth's sake.

Honor in Honoring God
Top of Page
Top of Page