Theme: Our Response
This week’s lessons remind us of the need to trust God in all things, and of what he will do for us as we look to him in faith.
Scripture: Psalm 115:1-18
So what should our response to God be? Since God is all-powerful, unlike the idols who can do nothing, we should trust him. But further, what should our response be to the one who is good to us and who is faithful to bless us—small and great alike? The last stanza of Psalm 115 suggests two additional answers: first, we should be faithful stewards of all God has given us; and second, we should praise him constantly.
1. Faithful stewards. This is the point of verse 16, which at first glance seems to be unrelated to anything else the psalm has been talking about. It says, “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.” This does not mean that God has abandoned all interest in the earth or merely, following up on verse 15, that God has decided to keep heaven for himself but give the earth to man. It means that the God who is “the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 15), and therefore possesses both, has made men and women stewards of the material world so that they are responsible to him for what they do with it. They can use it to enrich themselves, often at the expense of others or even of the world itself, as many do. They can abuse creation. Or they can use their share of this world’s goods and resources to honor God.
Lord Burghley was the greatest statesman in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and he was a diligent student of the psalms all his life. When he came to die, his will, dated October 20th, 1579, disposed of his lands and wealth in a manner that he hoped, so he said,
…shall not offend God, the giver of them all to me; considering, as it is in the psalm, ‘Coelum coeli Domino, terram dedit filiis hominum (“The whole heavens are the LORD’s; the earth he has given to the children of men,” Ps. 115:16).”1
During his lifetime Burghley had used his wealth to honor God. He wanted to have the same thing done with his resources when he died.
2. Praise to God. The second response the psalm mentions is praising God as the wonderful, reliable and benevolent God he is, letting others know about it. And not only now! We should do this as long as we live, so that God’s people extol him before others “forevermore,” as the psalm says. The last words are a challenge.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the LORD,both now and for evermore.Praise the LORD.
This is not an argument against belief in the afterlife, as some scholars with tunnel vision have suggested. It is merely the obvious observation that no praises are given to God on earth by dead people. The dead are silent. Therefore if we are going to praise God, as we should and must do if we are Christians, it is going to have to be now while we are living. Which brings us back to Agincourt! Like those on the English side who survived the battle, God has given Christians tremendous spiritual victories. We could describe them as victories over sin, death and the devil. The question to ask ourselves is this: Do we acknowledge this, remember it and praise God for the victories?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “Though the dead cannot, the wicked will not and the careless do not praise God, yet we will shout ‘Hallelujah’ for ever and ever.”2 So let be it! Amen!
1See Herbert Lockyer, Sr., Psalms: A Devotional Commentary (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), p. 499; and Rowland E. Prothero, The Psalms in Human Life (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1904), p. 171.
2Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 3a, Psalms 88-119 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), p. 57.
What are three responses we should give to God’s care?
What does it mean to be a faithful steward?
Reflection: How have you cared for what God has given you? Have you made plans for your estate that will further God’s kingdom? What spiritual victories has God allowed you?
Application: Praise God for blessings and hardships, for your salvation and the work he has given you to do.
For Further Study: If you would like to have your own copy of James Boice’s entire published sermon series on the Psalms, you can order your three-volume paperback set from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and receive 25% off the regular price.