Psalms 115 Commentary

Psalms 115-117 Saved from death

God was always faithful to Israel, though the Israelites were often unfaithful to him. Their sins brought God’s punishment upon them, causing their pagan neighbours to mock them with the accusation that their God was unable to help them and had deserted them (115:1-2). The Israelites reply that their God is alive and in full control. The pagan gods, by contrast, are useless, and the reason they are useless is that they are lifeless. Those who trust in them will achieve nothing (3-8).

Israel’s people will therefore trust in God for help and protection (9-11). They know that he will bless them and their descendants after them, for he is the almighty Creator (12-15). He has given the earth to humankind as a dwelling place, but has limited the number of years that each person may live on it.

Therefore, God’s people should make sure that they fill their few short years with praise to him (16-18).

In Psalm 116 an individual worshipper brings a sacrifice to God to pay his vows and offer thanks (see

  1. 17-18). Before offering his sacrifice, he pauses to think quietly on the great mercy and love of God. As he does so, he finds that his own love towards God increases, particularly when he recalls how God has answered his prayers and saved his life (116:1-4). He has personally experienced God’s compassion and goodness (5-7). When he was unable to help himself and when so-called friends proved useless, he still trusted God. He prayed, and God gave him new life (8-11). He will now publicly thank God by offering prayers and sacrifices in fulfilment of his vow (12-14). He sees how highly God values the life of the believer. God does not allow him to die, as if death is a thing of no importance in God’s sight. God preserves him alive, and for this he offers overflowing thanks (15-19).

God’s loyal love to Israel should cause his people to spread the good news of his love to other nations. This, in turn, will cause the people of those nations to bring their praise to him (117:1-2).

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