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Praise the Lord

June 19 2022
Book: Psalms

Speaker: Andrew Ginn

Audio Download

Bible Passage: Psalm 115

Mini Introduction:  Good morning!  I’m glad to be with you all tonight to look into God’s Word and to see what it has for us.  I’ve had the privilege of leading music here a few times over the years, and I’ve told Mike that it’s always such a blessing to come to CFC.  I always come away from here so refreshed and encouraged and I’m so thankful for that.  Today we’re gonna look together at Psalm 115, so if you could turn there with me, I’ll be reading from the ESV.

This psalm is often called one of the Egyptian Hallel psalms – those songs that were used to celebrate Passover and deliverance from Egypt in Jewish families and communities.  And today, we look at Psalm 115 together and we’ll look at this command that resounds in these psalms to “praise the LORD.”

Why are we not just exhorted, but commanded to praise the LORD?  Unfortunately, it’s because often the LORD is not the one we turn to in times of need or times of plenty.  But there is good news in this text for us:  that God is faithful and steadfast and can be trusted at all times.  Let’s pray and ask him to help us see that.

PrayerLord, we ask you this morning to give us eyes to see and ears to hear, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Open our eyes to see wondrous things in your Word and open our ears to hear the good news of Jesus that compels us to serve and love a hurting world, for your glory.  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

So let’s jump right into this text.

Scripture Reading (Ps. 115)
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

O Israel,[a] trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.

12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,
both the small and the great.

14 May the Lord give you increase,
you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!

Introduction:  Lately I’ve noticed a recurring phrase in TV and radio ads, as well as on social media.  It’s a 3-word phrase that you’ve, no doubt, heard as well.  It’s a phrase that pretty well encapsulates the time that we live in.  It’s the phrase “You Got This.”  You got this.

Maybe you’ve heard this too.  And if you look for it you will see it, and you’ll hear it.  It can be an ad for makeup or snack food – you got this!  It can be an ad for men’s deodorant.  You smell fresh now…you got this!  You can attack life from any angle because it’s really just up to you to decide…that you got this.  This can actually be a troublesome little phrase.  Because what we’re hearing and saying, not only in our product ads, but also in our own minds, is that really, we do have it.  We can control our lives either by being the masters of our own destinies, or by leaning heavily into someone or something else that really has a lot more control over us that we are willing to admit.

What we will see in this text is that we are a lot like the Israelites who were being warned against idolatry and trusting in things other than the One True God.

FCF:  Like the original hearers of this text, often we too put our trust in idols rather than in God.  

COR:  The people of Israel in the ancient near east were constantly confronted with literal idols and gods from neighboring countries and cultures.  These were gods that they could “sense”.  They could be touched and seen so they must be able to deliver.  But these gods – they were made by the regular men and women. 

Garden LensIn our time isn’t it so easy to lean into and trust things that we can sense?  We are constantly doing this even when we don’t realize it. Trusting in things we can see, hear, feel.   But this is not how we were meant to operate is it?  God created us in perfect fellowship with him and HE alone was God.  He was to be worshipped and adored above all else, but our first parents Adam and Eve squandered that and now we rebel against God, trusting in all sorts of lesser gods, don’t we?  But…there is hope for us.  

Big Idea:  Because of God’s enduring faithfulness, we can confidently put all our trust…in Him.  (repeat)

So why can we trust God confidently?  First we see we can trust him confidently

  1. Because of His Sovereignty (vv. 1-3)

Look back with me at verses 1-3 (read).

1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Explanation:  Two words should stick out to us here – “steadfast love” and “faithfulness” as we read them in verse 1.  Here the psalmist is anchoring God’s worth and glory in his character – He loves us steadfastly and he is totally faithful.  And because of this love, this faithfulness, God alone is worthy of glory, and no one else.

Perhaps when you hear those words – “steadfast love and faithfulness” – you think, “yeah I’ve heard this plenty of times in the psalms and in the OT so I’m tracking here.”  Maybe it’s just bible-speak that you kind of glaze over, and I admit sometimes I’m guilty of that.  Or maybe there’s not much experiential knowledge for you in terms of this kind of love and faithfulness.  When the people would sing this song, they were working from an experiential knowledge of God’s love and faithfulness.

God delivered them from oppression, from slavery, from pain and hurt, from isolation and despair, and he brought them to a place of abundance, a place of rescue and rest, in the promised land.  In all their trouble, trial, and pain, God was sovereign – ruling over all they experienced and guiding them with his care.  They could sing with joy and confidence because they knew their Redeemer firsthand, because of his sovereign work in their lives.

Again, verses 2-3 (read)…The psalmist here wants us to know that God is sovereign.  He does just what he pleases, and we know that he is GOOD, and his purposes are for GOOD, especially those that belong to him.  So if that’s true, then God is pleased (v.3) to do good to his people.

Illustration:  One of my closest friends, his name is Adam.  Adam and I met in 8th grade study hall and became instant friends.  We went through a lot of the same struggles in life but the LORD radically saved Adam and transformed his life around 2005.  In May of 2009, Adam’s older brother Paul, also a close friend of mine, died from a drug overdose.  Obviously, this was a huge shock and loss for Adam, his brother that he always looked up to just couldn’t seem to fully escape the grip of addiction, even though he was a believer in Jesus.

About 5 months later in that same year, Adam was in a horrible accident at the warehouse he worked in, where he was hit by a forklift and then his leg was pinned between that forklift and another.  His leg had to be amputated and he went through years of recovery.

And then several years later, Adam and his wife would have their first son, Greyson.  It became clear that Greyson had some really tough learning deficiencies, and he would eventually be diagnosed with Autism.  Some of you may know the joys and challenges that can bring.

Today if you spoke to Adam, you would immediately see the joy, peace, and confidence he has in Jesus.  You would hear of the gratitude he has to the LORD for sustaining him and his family over the years.  And you would never hear a complaint for the struggles in his life.  Why?…..Because Adam knows and trust in the sovereignty of God over all things, because he knows by experience that God is steadfast and faithful, even though many things can’t be explained.  He knows God, in his sovereignty, is GOOD, and that He can be confidently trusted.

Application:  Why can we trust God?  When we see his powerful work in the lives of his people, how he delivers them, even when they fail over and over, we realize that nothing is a surprise to God.  He is not learning anything new about you.  And yet he calls us “child” and says that we are his own.  He has all knowledge and power and LOVE and “he does all that he pleases.”  Rescuing and restoring sinners and caring for His people is what God is pleased to do.  We can confidently trust God because he is sovereign.  Over our lives and over this world.

Not only can we confidently trust in the LORD because of his Sovereignty, but also because of his reality. 

  1. Because of His Reality (vv. 4-8)

Explanation:  Look with me at verses 4-8 (read).

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

Here the psalmist is essentially mocking the idols of his day.  And you can see that with all these descriptors – mouths that don’t speak, eyes that don’t see, ears that don’t hear, noses that don’t smell, hands that don’t feel, feet that don’t walk, no sound coming out of them – they are…. senseless right?  Theses idols themselves are literally senseless.

So, why would anyone actually put any trust in them?  It’s easy for us to make judgments and say that maybe these people were just uncivilized, at least compared to us today.  They just didn’t know any better.  Their knowledge then wasn’t what ours is today.  There’s no doubt a lot of cultural background we can dig into to see why certain animals or shapes, or materials were used to create these, essentially, statues, but I think it may be as simple as this – people want to trust and worship something they can touch and feel – something they can…. sense.

And I don’t think that we are as far off from the people spoken to in this text as we’d like to believe.  If you look back at all those descriptors of the idols of the nations, what are they describing?  They look like….us, don’t they?  Hands, feet, eyes, nose, etc.  In the ancient Near East, a god that had no physical image was basically impossible to imagine or trust.  And so they look….like us.

Last year pastor Tim Keller posted a helpful definition for idols, saying “an idol is anything more important to you than God.  Anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God…anything that is so central and essential to your life, that should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.  Therefore, one can make anything into and idol.” 

I agree with Keller here, that anything can become an idol, including and especially – ourselves. 

Illustration:    I read an article from Business Insider magazine titled “12 Things Americans Love That The Rest Of The World Finds Bizarre”, several things were listed in a light-hearted way that we tend to love.  Things like NASCAR…pep rallies…PB&J sandwiches…Hostess Baked goods…I think that one gets a pass though…driving huge cars.  Now it’s not that all of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they do seem to point to prevalent idols of our day:  Consumption, Entertainment, Status and Wealth, Security and Comfort.  All these and so many more are idols that we bow to regularly, aren’t they?  And the thing is, they all point right back….to us, because often, we are what’s most important. 

Application:    Looking back at verse 8, we see the psalmist’s blunt takeaway from the rank idolatry he observed – that those who trusted in idols would become like them.  And so, when we turn again and again to idols for our security or fulfillment, we eventually become…. senseless.  We don’t see, we don’t hear, we don’t know where we’re going.  We’re senseless.  Almost like walking dead people. 

But the reality of life is this – our God IS in the heavens!  Our God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, he is our reality, and he desires to show us Himself.  Just as Moses asked God to show him his glory, and the LORD had to shield him with his hand, and the LORD passed by declaring himself – “

The LORD the LORD a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

This is the reality of who God is – merciful, gracious, loving, and faithful, just and true – this is the reality… of our God.  And this God can be trusted completely. 

So we can trust confidently in the LORD because of his sovereignty and his reality, but also, we can confidently trust him…

  • Because of Our Surety (vv. 9-18) **read verses 9-11**

Explanation:  First let’s look at verses 9-11.

O Israel,[a] trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.

Here the psalmist calls us to “trust in the LORD.” Israel, the house of Aaron, those that fear the LORD – trust in HIM.  Some of you may hear this word – trust – and it is a painful thing to consider.  You’ve been hurt by people you trusted.  You’ve been lied to over and over by people you trusted.

Maybe you’ve even been abandoned by someone you trusted.  Your pain is real and your hesitance to trust is understandable.

But I want us to consider trust in this light:  trust must be based on something.  Blind trust usually doesn’t make sense to us, so what can we base our trust in the LORD on?

I want to give 2 quick definitions of “surety.”  When we say we can fully trust the LORD because of our “surety”, what do we mean?  Look at verses 12-13 with me (read).

12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,
both the small and the great.

  1. First, we can define surety as simply “the state of being sure of something”. Here in verses 12-13, we see a confident assurance that (1) the LORD has remembered us and (2) that the LORD WILL bless us.

Illustration:  Remember the beginning of this psalm when we are called to give glory to the LORD for his steadfast love and faithfulness?  The psalmist here, and we, also, can be “sure of something” – surety – and that something is God’s faithfulness in the future because of his faithfulness in the past.  This is our surety – our state of being sure of God’s goodness and faithfulness. 

  1. Second, we can define “surety” as “a person who takes responsibility for another’s performance – one who pays their debts”. Let’s read verses 14-18…

14 May the Lord give you increase,
you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!

Explanation:  Increase (v. 14), blessing (v. 15), inheritance (v.16), LIFE (vv. 17-18).  All of these come from the LORD.  However, they don’t come without great cost.  Without the LORD’s intervention in the lives of the Israelites to rescue and redeem them, and without his rescue and redemption in our lives through Jesus and his shed blood, we don’t have these gifts.  Jesus is our surety – the one who took responsibility for our performance our attempts at a holy life, as it were, and the one who paid our debts.

Illustration:  The great English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, told the story of his younger brother, James, who suffered from “weak ankles” as a child.  Because of his condition he fell down…a lot and found himself in trouble with an overbearing father who considered him “careless” or “clumsy”.  And so, to treat this condition James was threatened by his father with whippings and whenever he fell, he was whipped.

Over time, James’ and Charles’ father was sure that his “treatment” of James had worked.  Eventually he stopped falling and was walking correctly.  Charles would reply to his father, “Ah, so you thought.  Yet it was not so, for he had many a tumble afterwards.”  And then Charles Spurgeon confessed to his confused father, “I always managed to wash his knees and to brush his clothes, so as to remove all traces of his falls.”

Jesus…our surety…the One who takes our punishment and debt, he always picks us up, washes our knees, brushes our clothes, and removes all traces of our falls – presenting us clean and accepted before God in perfect love.  A moment ago I mentioned that “trust must be based on something”.  My friends, we can trust God, confidently, because we are accepted in Christ, and loved as sons and daughters.

So why can we confidently trust God with our entire lives?  Because he is Sovereign, because he is very real and working in our world and lives, and because Jesus has worked on our behalf to bring us spotless and clean to the Father.  Because all this is true – we can trust him completely because in we are accepted and loved in Christ.  Praise be to God.  With all that’s going on in this world, in your life – will you trust Him completely? Let’s pray together.

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