Theme: Trusting God
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
As we concluded in yesterday’s study, any representation of God by anything material merely debases God and misleads the worshiper. This is why the second commandment is so strong. It says,
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments (Exod. 20:4-6).
And it is not only that idols mislead their worshipers. They also debase them, which is why this section closes by saying, “Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (v. 8). It means that human beings are drawn downward by false gods, not upward.
So what is the alternative? What should the people of God, those who know the true God of Israel, do? They should worship God, of course. But in this psalm the next stanza (vv. 9-11) says something equally significant, since it grows out of the utter impotence of the idols that have just been described. It tells us that we should trust God. Why? Because he is our true “help and shield.” The idols offer nothing. God lifts the downtrodden, helps us in our weakness and shields us from our foes.
There is a lot of repetition in this psalm, and these three verses are almost entirely repetition. They repeat the idea of trusting God three times, calling on Israel, the house of Aaron (that is, the priests), and all who fear God to trust him. They say,
O house of Israel, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
I sometimes say that if God tells us something once we should listen very carefully, because he is God. If he says something twice we should pay the strictest attention. How then if he repeats what he has to tell us three times? In that case we should drop everything else we are doing, give our full attention to it, study, ponder, commit to memory, meditate on and joyfully obey what God has said. In this case, we should “trust in the LORD” and not the other things that so easily take God’s proper place in our lives.
Do you trust him? We say we do, but do we trust him really? I think of the famous acrobat of the 19th century, Jean Francois Gravalet, known as Blondin because of his blond hair. His most acclaimed feat was crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope 160 feet above the water. On one occasion he went halfway across, stopped to cook an omelette, ate it, then went on to the other side. On another occasion he carried his manager across the falls on his back. Afterward he turned to a man in the crowd and asked him, “Do you think I could do that with you?”
“Of course,” the man said. “I just saw you do it.”
“Well, then,” said Blondin, “hop on and I’ll carry you across.”
“Not on your life,” said the bystander.
So it is with us. We say we trust God, but when it comes to an actual test we often fail to believe him.
What two things does idol worship do? Why does the psalmist mention the need to trust God after his discussion of where idols will lead those who follow them?
What idea is repeated three times in verses 9-11? What is significant about the use of repetition?
Reflection: How does your trust in God hold up when you are put to the test?
Application: Are there any idols in your life—those things or people that matter to you as much as or even more than the Lord himself? Ask God to teach you to let go of your idols and trust him fully.
Key Point: The idols offer nothing. God lifts the downtrodden, helps us in our weakness and shields us from our foes.