The first major section of the psalm, after the thematic statement of verse 1, is the polemic against idols found in verses 3-8. It is the first polemic against idols in the Psalter, though there was one brief reference to idols in Psalm 96:5. This is somewhat surprising when we think about it, but it may indicate that Psalm 115 was written after the Jews' return from the Babylonian Captivity, where they would have been able to witness the idol worship of the Babylonians first-hand. These verses are highly sarcastic and profoundly mocking, much like several well-known passages in Isaiah (see 44:6-20 or 46:5-7; similarly Deuteronomy 4:28; 28:36; Habakkuk 2:18; Isaiah 41:21-24; Jeremiah 2:8 and 16:19). 

Henry V of England was a remarkable king who might have become emperor of Europe if he had not died of a fever in France at the age of thirty-five. He had been wild and frolicsome in his younger days, a lifestyle effectively dramatized by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. But he changed when he assumed the throne, becoming “honest, grave and modest,” as one contemporary historian has recorded.

In Romans 8:39 Paul wrote that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What are these forces arrayed against us? In yesterday's study we looked at trouble, hardship and persecution. As we continue with this list, remember that all these forces, though powerful, will bow before the presence of our God. 

Sometimes Christians are accused of being unrealistic about life, as if it were nothing but a bowl of cherries for them, but that was not true of Paul. When Paul wrote in Romans 8:39 that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" he was not closing his eyes to reality or shutting his ears to the hostile and destructive forces that surround us. On the contrary, he opens his arms to these forces and invites them to come forward, saying nevertheless that they will never defeat God or succeed in detaching us from his love in Jesus Christ. 

What could possibly have caused such disturbances in the natural course of nature—the sea to part, the river to reverse its flow, the majestic peaks of Sinai to tremble? This is what the third stanza of the psalm asks rhetorically: 

Why was it, O sea, that you fled,
O Jordan, that you turned back,
you mountains, that you skipped like rams,
you hills, like lambs?