Sermon 2784. 'Non Nobis, Domine!'
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 22, 1902.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 16, 1878.
"Not unto us, O LORRD, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake." Psalm 115:1.
EVERY careful reader can see the connection between this 115th Psalm and the one which precedes it. In the 114th Psalm wesee the gracious and grateful Jews sitting around the Passover table, having eaten of the lamb and singing of the miraclesof Jehovah at the Red Sea and the Jordan. It must have been a very jubilant song that they sang! I think I can hear them singing,"What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled? You Jordan, that you were driven back?" When that joyful hymn was finished andthe cup of wine was passed around the table, they struck another note. They remembered their sad condition, as they heardthe heathen say, "Where is now their God?" They remembered that perhaps for many a year there had been no miracle, no Prophet,no open vision-and then they began to chant a prayer that God would appear-not for their sakes, but for His own name's sake,that the ancient Glory which He won for Himself at the Red Sea and the Jordan might not be lost-and that the heathen mightno longer be able to tauntingly say, "Where is now their God?" because the wonders worked by God would cause them to tremblebefore Him.
Remember that when the Israelites came up out of Egypt and were marching through the wilderness, the Lord put "the dread ofthem and the fear of them" upon all the nations in their track, so that they were half defeated through the terror that hadmade them almost like dead men in the Presence of the mighty God of Israel! So, the Psalmist's prayer here is, practically,"Lord, do the same again-not for our sakes, but for Your own name's sake-that once again the heathen all around may know thatthere is a God in the midst of Israel-and that they may be caused again to tremble as they did before-and no longer blasphemeor defy the God of Jacob." These observations will, I hope, show you how suitably this Psalm would be chanted while stillthe Paschal Supper was proceeding.
Now let us take the words of our text by themselves and examine them under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit. Theyare, I think, instructive to us in five ways."
I. First, they furnish us with A POWERFUL PLEA IN PRAYER-"Not unto us, O Jehovah, not unto us, but unto
Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake."
There are time when this is the only plea that God's people can use. There are other occasions when we can plead with Godto bless us for this reason or for that, but, sometimes, there come dark experiences when there seems to be no reason thatcan suggest itself to us why God should give us deliverance, or vouchsafe us a blessing except this one-that He would be pleasedto do it in order to glorify His own name. Moses is an example of how this plea prevails with the Lord. When he was on themount with God and Jehovah threatened to destroy the idolatrous Israelites, Moses pleaded, "Why should the Egyptians speakand 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 Your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants,to whom You swore by Your own Self, and said unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of Heaven, and all this landthat I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever. And the Lord repented of the evil whichHe thought to do unto His people."
Joshua also used the same plea when he said to the Lord, after Israel's defeat at Ai, "What will You do unto Your great name?"He could not say, "Lord, hear me for Israel's sake," for they were utterly unworthy. He did not dare to say,
"Deliver us for my sake"-he had not conceit or self-righteousness enough to present such a plea as that! He could not evensay, "Hear us for Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob's sake," for the people had broken the Covenant which God had made with theirfathers. So he pleaded with the Lord, "Think of Your own honor. Think of Your great name. Think of Your repute among the heathen."And thus he prevailed. It is noteworthy that that awful attribute of holy jealousy, which, under some aspects, is like a terribleflame, is the very one which helps us when everything else fails. Jehovah is very jealous of His own honor and therefore itis that when the heathens say, "Where is now their God?" He answers their taunt by ceasing to chasten His people-not for theirsakes, but for His own mercy and truth's sake, that the heathen may not think Him unmerciful to His people, nor be able toaccuse Him of being unfaithful to His Covenant.
Brothers and Sisters, in all your times of distress, you will do well to urge this plea with the Lord. Possibly you are pleadingfor a certain class of men or women who have grossly sinned. It may be that you have on your heart the case of one personwho has gone to great lengths of iniquity. You can always plead, "Lord, save that sinful soul to make Your Grace the moreillustrious. Do it that others who have witnessed his sin may admire Your wonderful compassion-that his relatives and friendswho have heard his blasphemies and been horrified by them, may see what You can do when You bare Your almighty arm and magnifyYour deeds of Grace."
You may be emboldened to urge that plea, notwithstanding the vileness of the person for whom you plead. In fact, the sinfulnessof the sinner may even be your plea that God's mercy and loving kindness may be seen the more resplen-dently by all who knowof the sinful soul's guilt. And if your prayer should not be on behalf of some gross transgressor, but on behalf of a fallenchurch-suppose it should be for a church that has lost its first love, a church that has turned aside from the Truth of God,a church which has ceased to be zealous, a church like that of Laodicea, fit only to be spewed out of the mouth of Christ-youmay still come before Him and say, "Lord, revive it-not for that church's sake, for You might well make it a desolation, likeShiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant was at the first-but do it for Your name's sake that all may see that You can trim thelamp when it already smokes and gives forth a nauseous stench-that You can take the fig tree before it is utterly barren,and dig about it, and dung it, and make it bring forth fruit, O You wondrous Vinedresser of the vineyard!" I leave that thoughtwith you, suggesting that in your solitude when you withdraw to pray-I mean you who, like Jacob, have your Jabboks and yourPeniels-you will find that this is one of the mightiest weapons that you can wield in that secret midnight conflict. Thereis a sacred art of gripping even the Angel of the Covenant in that time of mysterious wrestling. Say, "For Christ's sake,for God's name's sake, for His love's sake, for the Gospel's sake"-for all these are mightily prevalent pleas with the MostHigh.
Let me just whisper a word in the ear of anyone who has scarcely learned to pray. Poor Sinner-
"Laden with guilt and full of fears"- you say, "How can I plead with God for mercy? I have rejected it for years. I have oftenbeen rebuked and I have hardened my neck. I fear I have no plea with which to urge my suit in craving God's mercy." Here isone for you to use-say to Him, "For Your mercy and Your love's sake, have pity upon me, the least deserving of all Your creatures,for, surely, if You will but save me, it will be an eternal wonder to men and to angels! If you will save me, then I willsing-
"All Your mercy's depths I prove, All its heights are seen in me!"
I remember one who said, "Oh, if the Lord Jesus Christ will but pardon me, He shall never hear the last of it!" And this iswhat all poor guilty souls may truly say, "Should there be mercy for such a sinner as I am-so old a sinner-so daring a sinner-soGod-provoking a sinner? God's Grace blot out my sin? Will the Lord put me into His family and call me His child? Then, tellit in the deeps of Hell and let all the devils know what great things God can do! And tell it in the heights of Heaven andlet all the principalities and powers there learn new music as they sing of the greatness of the loving kindness of the Lordwho can pardon and save the very chief of sinners!" I suggest that every seeking sinner here should plead the name of Godand the Glory of Christ-plead that He will be honored, that men will magnify His great name and the preciousness of His atoningblood and the power of His Gospel if it shall save you. This is a good plea- take care that you use it.
II. Now, secondly, my text appears to me to embody THE TRUE SPIRIT OF PIETY. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Yourname give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake." That is to say, true religion does not seek its own honor.
Self-seeking is the exact opposite of the spirit of a true Christian. He would rather strip himself and say, "Not unto me,but unto You, O Lord, be all honor and glory!" He seeks no crown to put upon his own head. Twice he refused to wear it. Evenif the world would press it upon him, he says, "Not unto me; not unto me." He does not wish for honor. He has done with self-seeking.His one great objective, now, is to glorify God-"Unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake." Doyou not think, dear Friends, that if this is the true spirit of religion, we shall very often have to condemn ourselves forbeing so faulty in it?
For instance, suppose, in preaching the Gospel, a man has, even as a small part of his motive, that he may be esteemed aneloquent person, or that he may have influence over other men's minds-I will not suppose that he has so sordid a motive asworldly gain-but I need not "suppose" what I have suggested, for it is lamentably true that this mixture of motives may stealover the preacher's soul. Ah, but we must fight against this evil with all our might! Somebody once told Master John Bunyanthat he had preached a delightful sermon. "You are too late," said John, "the devil told me that before I left the pulpit."Satan is very skillful in teaching us how to steal our Master's Glory. Yet, if ever we speak aright, it is because we aretaught of the Spirit and not because of our own wisdom. Even when we have had the undoubted help of the Holy Spirit, we arefar too apt to attribute at least some little power to ourselves. But a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ loathes himselfwhen he finds that this evil habit has fastened itself upon him-and he cries, "No, Lord! Not unto me, not unto me, but untoYour name give all the glory and praise." We are to preach so as to glorify God, not to glorify ourselves-and the man whooccupies the pulpit merely that he may manifest his own cleverness ought to be hurled from it, forthwith, for he has no rightthere whatever! "Glory be to God," should always be the preacher's motto.
And as it should be so with our preaching, do you not think that the same thing is true concerning our praying? Are thereno petitions presented at Prayer Meetings in which there is at least some idea that we are saying very proper things, andvery pretty things, and that people will think we have a great gift of prayer? Did you ever have such a feeling as that stealover you? Yet, my Brothers, the only prayer of the right kind is that which is offered for the Glory of God. If I turn fromyour public prayers and look into your private supplications, shall I not see selfthere?
The right spirit in which to do everything is to do all to the Glory of God. In almsgiving, for instance-a practice which,I trust, will never die out, though there are some who tell us that it is wicked to give to the poor-in almsgiving is it notpossible to do it simply to get rid of the applicant, or to satisfy your own conscience, or that you may be thought generous?That is not right! We must give our alms to God alone. Let not our right hand know what our left hand gives, for it is notto man that we are giving it, but as unto the Lord. Let our offering be dropped into the box and nothing be said about it.Let us get as far as possible from the spoiling glance of the human eye, that the whole act may be as a spring shut up, afountain sealed, something done for Jesus and for Jesus only, that He may have it and have all the glory of it.
And in any service that you may render, do you not know that it must be done simply and only for Christ's sake if it is tobe acceptable to Him? Yet, often, you can scarcely set a man to open pew doors, or to give out a hymn, or to teach a Sundayschool class, but "great I" will be sure to lift its head unless it is constantly kept under! Pride grows swiftly, like otherweeds. Yet remember that whatever we do in order that we may make ourselves the end and object of it, is spoiled in the doingand is not pleasing to God. Indeed, we are not offering it to God-we are offering it to ourselves! May God grant us Gracethat we may never be swayed by the fear of man, or the wish to win human approbation! May we do that which we believe to beright because it isright and because we wish to honor and glorify God in doing it! And when we are rendering any service tothe Master, let us never wish for human eyes to see it. That is the true spirit of piety-may God grant that we may have itto the full!
But oftentimes we cherish another kind of spirit. Even the sweet singer among you may be singing a hymn "to the praise andglory of God," yet be thinking to himself or herself, all the while, "Do not those who are listening to me think that I havea very sweet voice?" Or, possibly, you are in the Sunday school and you feel, "Well, now, I really am one of the most efficientteachers here. They must think a great deal of me, or they ought to, at any rate." Very often, even in the household, whenwe have done some little thing, we congratulate ourselves upon it and feel that everybody ought to pat us on the back andburn a little incense in our honor. Ah, dear Friends, if we think anything like this, may the Lord speedily drive it out ofus! Such poor creatures as we are, if the Lord would let us be doormats for all His saints to wipe their dirty boots upon,it would be an honor to us. If He only allows us to be hewers of wood or drawers of water, like
the Gibeonites of old-and if He accepts what we do, it will be all of His Grace. But for us to set up on our own account,to live to ourselves and to want honor and glory for ourselves-this will never do! We say, of some people, that they are "poorand proud" and, truly, that is what we are when we begin to boast! Lord, take away our pride-our poverty will not so muchmatter then!
III. I leave that point and come, thirdly, to use the Psalmist's words in yet another sense. I think that the spirit of mytext is A SAFE GUIDE IN THEOLOGY.
When I am going to read the Scriptures, to know what I am to believe, to learn what is to be my creed-even before I open myBible, it is a good thing to say-"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and forYour truth's sake." This is, to my mind, a test of what is true and what is false. If you meet with a system of theology whichmagnifies man, flee from it as far as you can! If the minister, whom you usually hear, tries to make man out to be a veryfine fellow and says a great many things in his praise, you should let him have an empty place where you have been accustomedto sit. This shall be an infallible test to you concerning anyone's ministry. If it is man-praising and honors man, it isnot of God! The Negro said of a certain preacher in America, "He do make God so great." I would that it might be said of allof us that our preaching made God great. That plan of salvation that makes man to be somebody, is a wrong one, depend uponit, for he is a nobody and nothing. That kind of preaching which leaves a great deal for man to do and tells him he can doit-well, Brothers and Sisters-let those people who are so very good, strong and great, go and listen to it! But as for youand me-at any rate, for the most of us-we know that, by nature, we are dead in trespasses and sins, that our strength is perfectweakness and, therefore, the kind of preaching that exalts man does not suit our experience. We do not ask for it, nor dowe want it. It will poison those who receive it, for it comes not from
This is why I believe in the Doctrines of Grace. I believe in Divine Election because somebody must have the supreme willin this matter-and man's will must not occupy the Throne of God-only the will of God. The words of Jehovah stand fast likethe great mountains. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."The Sovereignty of God is a Doctrine which lifts Him up high and, therefore, I accept it and reverently bow before it. Accordingto some men, it seems that salvation is mainly the work of the creature. Christ died for him, but Christ may have died invain unless he, by something that he does, makes Christ's death effectual. That kind of teaching I do not believe becauseit throws the onus of redemption, after all, upon man, and makes him to give efficacy to the redemption of Christ! No, verily,but I believe that those for whom Christ gave Himself as a ransom shall surely be His forever-and that He did really redeemthem and needs not that they add anything to make that everlasting ransom price sufficient and available for their deliverance.
There are some who seem to think that the sinner takes certain steps towards God before God comes to him, but it is not so.The sinner is dead and life must come to him from God before he can stir from the grave, or even have a wishto stir from it.And there are some who teach that after man is saved, he still needs to keep himself and confirm himself in Grace-in factthat his salvation depends upon himself. But it is not so, for He who has called us and saved us, has given us gifts whichHe will never take back and, having once loved us, He will love us to the end. We are firmly persuaded that He who has beguna good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. From top to bottom, salvation is all of the Grace of God!From its first letter, Alpha, to its last letter, Omega, it is all Grace, Grace, Grace! There is no room for human merit andno room for confidence in self whatever! There is room for good works, yet no room for glorifying in them, "for we are Hisworkmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." You knowthat jewelers have certain tests by which, if you take them a ring or a coin, they can tell you at once whether it is goldor silver. Here is a test for you to apply and by it you may tell whether a thing is true or not. Does it glorify God? Then,accept it. If it does not, if it glorifies man-puts human will, human ability, human merit into the place of the mercy andthe Grace of God-away with it, for it is not food fit for your souls to feed upon! I wish that all Christians were more concernedfor the Glory of God than they are. Surely, then, they would become sounder in doctrine than many are nowadays.
IV. The fourth way of using our text is this. It seems to me to be A PRACTICAL DIRECTION IN LIFE.
You want to know, young man, how to direct your steps aright, and how to cleanse your way. This text will help you, dear Brother,in the selection of your sphere of service. You will always be safe in doing that which is not for your
own glory, but which is distinctly for the Glory of God. Have you two situations offered to you? Are they equally remunerative,or equally difficult? Select that one in which you may hope to glorify God more than you could in the other! This is the voicebehind you which says, "This is the way; walk you in it." Are you choosing a profession, or seeking an honorable career inlife? Then, I pray you, let this text guide you. Adoniram Judson, full of ambition, seeking a great name, met with this textand rebelled against it. But he says that all his bright visions for the future seemed to vanish as these words sounded inhis soul, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory." Are you going to live, young man, to get gloryto yourself? It will not do! It will not do. If the Lord loves you, He will not let it be so. "But what, then, am I to do?"you ask. Why, labor so to live, in any calling, that you may bring glory to God in it!
Sometimes my text will guide you as to which you should choose out of two courses of action that lie before you. Did I understandthat you have had a little tiff with your brother or sister, and the question with you is, "What shall I do in this dispute?"Something says, "Go and make up and say that you were wrong." But something else says, "Oh, but you know that we must notalways be giving way and yielding because some people, if you give them an inch, will take a mile!" So, possibly, you do notknow which course to take. Which is the one you do not wish to follow? Why, you do not like to humble yourself! Then thatisthe plan you should adopt! What flesh revolts against, your spirit should choose. Say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,but unto Your name give glory. I will do that which will most honor my Lord and Master-and not that which would best pleasemyself."
Or it may be that there are two ways in which you might serve God and you are rather perplexed about which one to choose.One of them would give you a good share of honor. The other would involve more work and you would not be likely to get muchcredit out of it. You really do not know which of the two you ought to choose. I suggest, Brother, that the probabilitiesare that that is the right one for you from which you will get the least credit. At any rate, I am afraid that if you holdthe scales impartially, as you think, your hand will incline just a little to give the preponderance to that which would bringyou into fame. Do not do it-school yourself so that you can say, "For my Master's sake alone will I choose that which shallbe my course, and I will follow where He leads the way, seeking to give Him all the glory." That is a direction post which,I think, will guide you out of many of the perplexities of life.
V. Now, fifthly, and lastly, my text seems to contain within itself THE ACCEPTABLE SPIRIT IN WHICH TO REVIEW THE PAST.
Brothers and Sisters, this is the spirit in which to live. Has God blessed us? Do we look back upon honorable and useful lives?Has our Sunday school class brought in souls for Christ? Have we been privileged to preach the Gospel and has the Lord givenus converts? Then let us be sure to stick to the text-"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory." Now,young man, if you are beginning to serve the Savior and He has given you success, your conduct in this first time of testingmay decide the whole of your future life. "As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise."There are very few men who can bear success-none can do so unless great Grace is given to them! And if, after a little success,you begin to say, "There now, I am somebody. Did I not do that well? These poor old fogies do not know how to do it-I willteach them"-you will have to go into the back rank, Brother, you are not yet able to endure success! It is clear that youcannot stand praise. But if, when God gives you blessing, you give Him every atom of the glory and clear yourself of everythinglike boasting, then the Lord will continue to bless you because it will be safe for Him to do so. He is not going to put Histreasure, let me tell you, into the leaky vessels of self-exaltation. No, no-He wants good sea-going ships which bear at themasthead the flag on which is inscribed, "Not unto us O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory."
Yes, and when the time comes for us to die, this is the spirit in which to die, for it is the beginning of Heaven. What arethey doing in Heaven? If we could look in there, what would we see? There are crowns there, laid up for those that fight thegood fight and finish their course-but do you see what the victors are doing with their crowns? They will not wear them! No,not they-they cast them down at Christ's feet, crying, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory."Brother, Sister-living, dying-let this be your continual cry! If the Lord favors you, honors you, blesses you, always say,"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, be the glory." Are you prosperous in business? Do not be proud of your riches. Are yougetting on in education? Do not boast of what you know, for there is a great deal more that you do not know. Has God givenyou a few converts? Do not begin thinking that you are a mighty soul-winner, for there are many more yet to be won. The wayup is downward! Your Master descended that He might afterwards ascend
and fill all things-and your way of ascent must be downward, downward, downward-so that you become less and less, and less.Say over and over again, "Not unto us, not unto us," till you utterly loathe the idea of human glory and let the Lord haveall the praise!
As a Church we can look back upon many years of spiritual prosperity, but we must still sing, "Non nobis, non no-bis, nonnobis, Domine." We can bless and magnify the Lord for unity, peace, concord and perpetual increase and success in all theworks of our hands. Glory be unto the Lord for it! But, as Paul shook off the viper from his hand into the fire, so wouldwe shake off everything that looks like attributing success to ourselves, even to our prayers, our tears, our devotion. Letall the glory be given to God alone, for-
"To Him all the glory belongs." Now I finish by saying that perhaps there is someone here who is longing to be saved and theonly thing that stands in his way is that he will not come to this point and say, "Not unto us, not unto us." Ah, my Friend!You want to be a little somebody! You want to do something, or be something. Brother, be nothing, for then shall Christ beyour All-in-All! Remember that the end of the creature is the beginning of the Creator. When you have done with every otherconfidence, then you can have confidence in God. The Lord bless you to this end, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen,
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM115.
This is one of the Hallel Psalms which were sung by the Jews at the feast of the Passover. It is highly probable that theywere sung by our Lord on that memorable night when He instituted the sacred feast which is to be the perpetual memorial ofHis death, "until He comes." They have, however, a message for us who are now gathered together here.
Verses 1, 2. Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake. Whyshould the heathen say, Where is now their God?They talk about what He did when He brought His people up out of Egypt-butthey tauntingly ask, "Where is now their God?" You are not dead, O God! Nor are You even waxing weak-will You not let theheathen know that they are resisting You in vain?
3. But our God is in the heavens. Where they cannot see Him. But that is just where He should be-in His own royal pavilion,seated upon His own Throne-out of gunshot of all His enemies-where He can survey the whole world, where He is dependent uponnone, but absolutely supreme over all-"Our God is in the heavens."
3. He has done whatever He has pleased. What a grand sentence that is! After all, His eternal purposes are continually beingfulfilled. His decrees can never fail to be accomplished. He is not a thwarted and defeated God-not One who has to wait uponHis creatures to know their pleasure, but, "He has done whatever He has pleased." How absolute and unlimited those words are!"Whatever He has pleased." He has willed it and He has done it. As for the heathens who say, "Where is now their God?" wemay ask, in holy derision, "Where are theirgods, and what sort of gods are they?" The Psalmist gives the answer.
4. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. Mere metal-called precious metal, yet, if made into idols, nobetter than any other metal. This shows the amount that a man will spend upon making to himself a god that is no god-but whata fool he is to do so! How can a man call that a "god," which did not make him, but which he himself made? "Their idols aresilver and gold, the work of men's hands."
5. They have mouths, but they speak not. I want you to notice how the Psalmist seems to have an image before him and he pointsfirst to its head and mocks at its different parts. And then he points to its hands and its feet, and he utters scathing sarcasmsabout the whole person of the idol god.
5-7. Eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands,but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat ''They have mouths." To carryout their idea of God, the makers of idols have given them mouths, but they cannot speak through them-they are dumb. Shalla man believe a dumb thing to be a god? The idols cannot communicate anything to him- it is not possible for them to speakany word of encouragement, or threat, or promise-"They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they." Some idols had preciousgems placed in their heads to appear like eyes, but they cannot see through them, for they are blind. Is it not a contradictionto speak of a blind god? What a blind man must he be who
worships a blind god! "Eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears." Some Indian idols certainly have ears, for theyhave elephants' ears, monstrous lobes and I think, perhaps, the Psalmist was referring to such ears as those. "They have ears,"he says, "but they hear not." Then what is the use of their ears? You cannot communicate anything to them, so, why do youutter prayers to a thing that cannot hear what you say? Why do you present praises to images that know not what you are saying?"They have ears, but they hear not." "Noses have they." I note the grim sarcasm of this remark of the Psalmist. It remindsme of Elijah's taunting words to the prophets of Baal, "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing,or he is on a journey, or, perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened."
The ancient Hebrews were not accustomed to treat idolatry with any kind of respect. They poured all sorts of ridicule uponit. Nowadays we are expected to speak very respectfully concerning all false religions-and some philosophers and divines tellus that there is something good in them all. And they say that modern Catholicism, with its many gods, and its rotten ragsand cast clouts, which they call relics, is to be treated very delicately. Perhaps someone asks, "Is it not a religion?" Yes,a religion for fools-but not for those who think! "Noses have they, but they smell not." Their devotees fill the room withthe smoke of incense-they burn sweet spices before the idols but the idols nostrils are not thereby gratified. "They havehands," says the Psalmist. Their makers give them hands, "but they handle not." They cannot even receive the offerings presentedto them! They cannot stretch out their hands to help their votaries. They are without feel-ing-so the original tells us, yetthey have hands, but they are useless. "Feet have they, but they walk not." They could not even mount to their shrines bythemselves-they must be lifted there and fastened with nails into their sockets!
One of the saddest sights to my mind-too sad to be ludicrous-is to see a Catholic chapel, as I have often seen it, when thepriest is up on the top of the altar, taking down the various images, and dusting the dolls. He, of course, pays them no sortof reverence, but dusts them as your maid does the things in your bedchamber or your drawing room. Yet these are the thingsthat will be worshipped when the bell rings in an hour's time-these very things that have been dusted and treated in thisfashion just like ordinary household ornaments! "Feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat."Their priests pretend that by a kind of sacred ventriloquism, they make an articulate muttering-but the Psalmist very properlysays, "Neither speak they through their throat." They cannot whisper, they cannot even mutter! They cannot make even as muchnoise as a beast or a bird can, for they are lifeless and useless.
8. They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusts in them. That is to say, they are as stupid and doltishas the idols they make. If they can bow down and worship such things as these, surely the worshippers are fitted for the godsand the gods for the worshippers! Now, Brothers and Sisters, remember that there is a spiritual idolatry that is very muchin vogue nowadays. Certain "thinkers"-as they delight to call themselves, whose religion is known as "modern thought"-do notaccept the one living and true God as He reveals Himself in the Old and the New Testaments-they make a god out of what theyare pleased to call their own consciousness. Truly, their idols are reason and thought-the work of men's brains. Their goddoes not hear prayer because it would be absurd, they say, to suppose that prayer can have any effect on Deity. Their godhas little or no regard for justice-according to them, you may live as you like, but all will come right at last. They holdout a "larger hope" that the wicked will all be restored to God's favor. If that should be the case, there would be no justiceleft upon the face of the earth or in Heaven either.
All this is false! A god that a man can comprehend is not really a god at all. A god that I could create from my own brainmust, of necessity, be no god. There can only be the one God who is made known to us by Divine Revelation. God must be infinitelygreater than the human mind-He must be beyond our utmost conception-of whom we can know but little compared with what He reallyis, and that little He must Himself reveal to us. Beware, I pray you, of a god that you make for yourself! Take God as youfind Him in this Book and worship Him. Otherwise, you will find that there may be mental idols as well as idols of silver,gold, wood and stone.
"The God of Abraham praise." "The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," the God of the whole earth shall He be called."The God that led His people out of Egypt, the God of Sinai is the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." And"this God is our God forever and ever." Ours is no new religion-it is the religion of Jehovah worship, and to this we willcling, whoever may oppose.
9-11. OIsrael, trustyou in the LORD: He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: He is their helpand their shield. You that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: He is their help and their shield. The first of this set of sentencesseems to me to be addressed by way of exhortation, but the second is a sort of soliloquy in which the
Psalmist, having exhorted others to trust, says, "Well they may trust, for God is both their active and their passive Helper-theirhelp and their shield." O you who know Him, and love Him, you who are of the house of Israel, however other men may turn asideto idols, keep yourselves steadfast to Jehovah and trust in Him even when He is mocked and ridiculed! O you who are His ministers,the house of Aaron, especially devoted to His service, you know Him best and you should trust Him most! O all of you, proselytesof the gate, who are not of the seed of Israel, still fear Jehovah and trust in Him, for He is your help and your shield!
12. The LORD has been mindful of us: He will bless, He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron. Hehad been mindful of Israel and this guaranteed that He would still bless His people. "The times are dark and cloudy," thePsalmist seems to say, "but by His ancient mercies, our faith is established, and our hope encouraged."
13. He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great Now, little ones, look out for the blessing that is meantfor you-"He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great." Those who have but little faith, little joy, littleDivine Grace, little growth, He will still bless!
14-16. The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. You are blessed of the LORD which made Heaven andearth. The Heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S: but the earth has He given to the children of men. This may in part accountfor the fact that He is not known, and not honored among men. He is, Himself, in Heaven and, for a while, He has left mento follow their own devices. Hence it is that they have set up false gods. But, whatever others may do, or not do, let uspraise the name of the Lord!
17. The dead praise not the LORD. No song comes up from that dark morgue, no praise ascends to God from those that are asleepin the grave. The living among them praise Him in Heaven, but "the dead praise not the Lord."
17, 18. Neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise theLORD. "Praise the Lord," that is, "Hallelujah!" The Psalm could not end with a better note than that. So may all our livesend, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.