By Henry Law
Man's utter nothingness is here acknowledged. In God alone all power resides. The idols of the heathen are the vanity of vanities. Let all confidence be placed in God!
1. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth's sake."
Piety shudders at the thought of the assumption of any power by man. We cannot sink too low. We cannot raise our God too high. There is no depth from which we may not look up to Him. Let the assurance be always ours that His mercy and His truth will certainly befriend.
2-3. "Why should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens; He has done whatever He has pleased."
Israel was often brought into heathen bondage. Insulting foes derided them as helpless, and tauntingly inquired, Where is their God? The reply was indisputable. God reigns on high. Heaven is His throne. His overruling hand moves everywhere. He works all things after the counsel of His own will.
4-8. "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; 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. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them."
What can be more contemptible than the idols of the heathen world! These images may be cased in silver and in gold. They may shine dazzlingly in the sight of prostrate crowds. But emptiness is their only property. Blind, deaf, motionless, speechless, they are less than nothing. Their worshipers are scarcely better. Where are the minds of those who kneel before the workmanship of their own hands? But while we pity such degraded folly, let us never forget that creature-worship is nature's religion. The love of silver and gold is innate idolatry of heart.
9-11. "O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield."
From a view of worthless idols, the exhortation gains force to trust in the ever-living God, who has all power in heaven and in earth. Let all His people trust Him. Let all who fear Him trust Him. Especially let the ministers of His word be foremost in this holy confidence. The standard-bearers should precede the host. They have all cause to trust. He is ever ready and ever able to give help. His sure protection can never fail.
12-15. "The Lord has been mindful of us, He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. You are blessed of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
The review of the past testifies of the ever-mindful hand of God. Each Ebenezer gives assurance that blessings will still incessantly descend. Though appearances may sometimes have an adverse look, yet from age to age generations of men shall rejoice under His gracious care. He has delivered us, and still delivers, and we trust that He will yet deliver us.
16-18. "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; but the earth has He given to the children of men. The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord."
While we continue inhabitants of earth our lips may praise the Lord, and lift up adorations to the heavens. But our life here may be very brief. Our opportunities may quickly pass. Lips mute in the grave can no more be heard on earth. Let us bear in mind, also, that dead souls on earth cannot have spiritual usefulness. Let us then pray, Quicken us, good Lord, more and more. The tribute of praise shall then respond in louder and holier notes.