Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness,
because of Your truth.
Why should the nations say,
“Where, now, is their God?”
But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them.
O Israel, trust in the LORD;
He is their help and their shield.
“Jewish tradition…groups together Psalms 113–118, known as the ‘Egyptian Hallel’, for use at the Passover. The ‘hymn’ sung at the Last Supper (Mk. 14:26) is likely to have been part of that Hallel.”1
“A short run of psalms used at the yearly Passover begins here [at Psalm 113], and is therefore commonly known as the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ (Hallel means Praise). Only the second of them (114) speaks directly of the Exodus, but the theme of raising the downtrodden (113) and the note of corporate praise (115), personal thanksgiving (116), world vision (117) and festal procession (118) make it an appropriate series to mark the salvation which began in Egypt and will spread to the nations. By custom, the first two psalms are sung before the Passover meal, and the remaining four after it. So these were probably the last psalms our Lord sang before His passion (Mk. 14:26), and Psalm 118 had already made itself heard more than once in the confrontation of the previous few days. There was more relevance in these psalms to the Exodus—the greater Exodus—than could be guessed in Old Testament times.”2
It’s interesting to me that following Psalm 114’s reference to the Exodus, Psalm 115 describes idols and what happens to those who trust in them, because after they left Egypt the Israelites sinned in the Wilderness with evil, unbelieving hearts expressed by their rebellion and making of idols (cf. the books of Exodus, Numbers and Hebrews 3–4). Psalm 115 serves as reassurance and warning that despite the visibility of those idols, they are in fact without life and unable to respond to anyone; those who make them will become like them. I’ve thought about this verse before in regard to those who worship money and are consumed by it (cf. Matthew 6:19–24, Luke 16:13–15, 1 Timothy 6:9–10), closing their hearts to others. Psalm 115 calls us to trust in the Living God who is our help, and Psalm 116 opens with praise for His deliverance:
“I love the LORD, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
The cords of death encompassed me
And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD
In the land of the living.”
I learned one other thing I wanted to share with you about the very first verse I quoted at the beginning of this post:
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.”
Derek Kidner writes:
“…William Wilberforce marked the passing of his bill to abolish the slave trade by meditating on this verse.”3
What a deliverance! What an occasion for praise!
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2, 3Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150, pp. 383, 401, 404.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter