10/2 The Lord Remembers
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,But to Your name give gloryBecause of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth and faithfulness. Why should the nations say,“Where, now, is their God?” But our God is in heaven;He does whatever He pleases. The idols [of the nations] 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;Nor can they make a sound with their throats. Those who make them will become like them,Everyone who trusts in them. O Israel, trust and take refuge in the Lord! [Be confident in Him, cling to Him, rely on His word!]He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;He is their help and their shield. You who [reverently] fear the Lord, trust in Lord;He is their help and their shield. The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless,He will bless the house of Israel;He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those who fear and worship the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder],Both the small and the great. May the Lord give you [great] increase,You and your children. May you be blessed of the Lord,Who made heaven and earth. The heavens are the heavens of the Lord,But the earth He has given to the children of men. The dead do not praise the Lord,Nor do any who go down into silence; But as for us, we will bless and affectionately and gratefully praise the LordFrom this time forth and forever.Praise the Lord!(Hallelujah!)
I was a gangly sixteen year old when our large church got a new pastor, J.L. McQueen. As I entered the sanctuary, he asked my name and I told him.
Several Sundays later I headed out a different door, and there was the new pastor. Several hundred other young people were in church; I knew he wouldn’t remember my name. With a friendly voice and firm grip, he shook my hand and said, “Hi, George.”
How did he remember my name? I asked myself, and then I asked my friends. They all reported the same experience. Pastor McQueen remembered everybody’s name.
Almost thirty years went by, I was back in the church of my teen years for a homecoming. Pastor, now retired, had come back. After his sermon that morning, I watched an old couple with walkers edge their way through the crowd to greet him.
The little old man lifted his bent head and in a quavering voice said, “Pastor, you probably don’t remember us…..”
Before he could say another word, Pastor McQueen folded them both into his long arms and endearingly said, “Oh, Bill and Mary, how could I ever forget you?”
The way Pastor related to Bill and Mary-that he had not forgotten them-is how Psalm 115 tells us God relates to us.
Verse two poses a question that the writer of Psalm 115 spends the first eight verses answering: “Where is your God?” It makes it appear as if God has forgotten His people. That particular question may not phase us when all is going well, but when we’re in need and distress, seemingly powerless and vulnerable it becomes powerful. When we suffer some outrageous blow of fate or misfortune like those who do not know or love God and when it feels like God isn’t doing much to help, this question might arise.
This psalm paints a story of a time when the enemies of Israel apparently have the upper hand and are taunting Israel about their loyalty to the unseen God. As they appear to be standing strong supported by the security of their idols(gods) that anyone could see, they threw this insinuation: “If you are sure God loves you, why are you suffering? Why doesn’t your God make himself visible?”
This is the third of the praise songs that Jesus and the disciples sang in all likelihood in the upper room just before He enters Gethsemane. And that point of history makes this powerful answer to the question: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him(verse 3). I strongly believe that the words of this psalm as Jesus recited it fresh, strengthened Him to be able to say yes to “Thy will be done.”(Matthew 6:10)
In this psalm, the writer turns the words of his enemies against themselves by saying, “So you want me to serve visible gods? Perhaps you need to take a closer look. My unseen God is alive while your gods whom you can see is dead.(verses 4-8).
The rest of Psalm 115 calls us to deepen our walk with God by learning to depend more fully upon Him.
Maybe we feel we need assurance or protection. It matters not whether we’re “ordinary believers” (house of Israel) or a priest(house of Aaron), verses 9-11 remind us that He is our help and shield.
Further, the Lord never forgets us and He is committed to blessing His people(verse 12). It matters not whether we are well-known or unknown, you have His favor when you reverence Him(verse 13).
From a human viewpoint, the night He was betrayed, Jesus could have wondered if the Father had abandoned Him- He did wonder that on the cross. But Hebrews says that He did not take His cue from the external but from the Eternal. On the cross after uttering “My God, My God why have You forsaken me?” He spoke these words: Father into Your hands I commend my spirit.”
Those who are blessed do not shrink or shrivel away. Just as the cross did not diminish Christ, and He emerged from the tomb blessed and blessing us with the gift of eternal life; God wants us to emerge from doubts and taunts with such strength that we will become incredible encouragement and resource to others.
Verse 16 says that “the highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth He has given to man.” If the dead can’t praise Him(verse 17) then let us establish the fact that we are alive by “extol(ling) the Lord, both now and forevermore!”
Praise the Lord!
Dr. John Thompson