Psalms 113-118 are often referred to as the Hallel psalms, these were sung on festive occasions, such as at Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles, and the feast of Dedication. These were psalms of adoration to the Lord which commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
Psalms 113-114 were sung before the meal and Psalm 115-118 were sung after the meal. This was probably the hymn which our Saviour and His disciples sang at the conclusion of the Passover supper, Matthew 26:30 / Mark 14:26.
We don’t know who the author is of this psalm but the psalmist glorifies God and encourages everyone to do the same. Idolatry is a major theme for this psalm but because the living God isn’t like man-made gods, that is, idols, He and He alone is only worthy of being praised.
The NIV doesn’t offer a heading for this psalm, but the KJV does. Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.
1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.
2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.
3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.
4. How it was used.
The heading tells us this is a psalm written to remind God’s people that He truly is glorious.
The psalmist begins by declaring that the LORD and Him alone is to be given all the glory, not people, Psalm 29:1-2. The reason God is to be given all the glory is because of His love and faithfulness, in other words, there is no one, no idol, that compares to the love and faithfulness of God.
The nations appear to be asking, ‘where is their God?’ It’s possible that the nations were mocking God’s people and so, the psalmist is looking to be delivered from among the nations in order that they may glorify God, Psalm 42:3 / Psalm 42:10 / Psalm 79:10.
The psalmist now answers the question the nations are asking, and they say that our God is in heaven and He does whatever pleases him.
In other words, while the nations could see and touch and feel their idols, God lives and reigns in heaven and He does whatever He likes, whenever He likes. He isn’t manmade, He is Spirit, John 4:24.
The psalmist now begins to mock the idols and those who worship them, Psalm 135:15-18. Idols are made of silver and gold and made by human hands. Despite idols being fashioned with expensive materials, they are only expensive statues, built by people from their own imagination.
Notice idols are made with mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet, in other words, they are fashioned to resemble the human body. These idols makers were really good at fashioning them, but yet, they couldn’t make their mouths speak, the eyes see, the ears hear, their noses smell, their hands feel, their feet walk or even get a sound from them, Isaiah 10:14 / Isaiah 44:9-20.
The psalmist tells us that not only will those who make idols become like them, but so will everyone else who trusts the idol, Isaiah 44:9-20. This is a perfect example of idol worship, where the idolater seeks to behave according to their own desires.
After speaking about the foolishness of idolatry, the psalmist now encourages all the Israelites to trust in the LORD because He is their help and shield, Genesis 15:1 / Deuteronomy 33:29 / Psalm 5:12 / Psalm 18:2 / Proverbs 30:5 / John 6:68.
The house of Aaron refers to the priesthood and if anyone should trust God to be their help and shield, it should certainly be the priests.
Anyone who fears God, Acts 10:1-2 / Acts 13:16 / Acts 13:26, that is, respects and reveres Him should also trust Him to be their help and shield. This may well be speaking of the other nations, that is, the Gentiles, 1 Kings 8:41 / Isaiah 56:6.
The psalmist says the LORD remember His people and the psalmist is confident that He will bless His people. He will bless Israel, the house of Aaron, those who fear Him, He will bless everyone small and great alike.
In other words, because God has blessed them in the past, the psalmist is confident that God will not forget to bless them again in the future.
The psalmist now tells us the way He wants the LORD to bless His people. He prays that the LORD will make His people flourish, including His people’s children, Genesis 15:5 / Genesis 22:17 / Genesis 32:12.
The psalmist knows that idols can’t do this, idols didn’t create heaven and the earth, only the Maker of heaven and earth can do this, He truly is the source of all blessings.
The highest heaven, that is, God’s dwelling place, Isaiah 66:1 / Matthew 5:34 / Acts 7:49, belongs to God but when He created the earth, He created it for mankind. He has given the earth for the environment for men, Genesis 1:26-30.
Some commentators believe that the reference to the ‘dead’ here appears to be speaking about those who are spiritually dead since the righteous will continue to bless the name of the Lord, Philippians 1:21-23.
However, we know that those who die and go down to the place of silence, won’t praise the LORD, Isaiah 38:18-19 / Psalm 6:5. It’s those who are still alive who will extol the LORD, both now and forevermore, this is why the psalmist ends with the words, ‘praise the LORD’, that is, Hallelujah!
The psalmist spoke of the foolishness of idol worship and told us that those who make them and those who worship them, will become like them.
The psalmist gave us a clear definition of what an idol is, it’s simply a manmade object, Isaiah 44:15, usually made to look like a human, with eyes, ears feet and hands etc, yet the body parts don’t do anything, Daniel 5:23.
When we turn to God and worship Him, we turn to the living God, 1 Timothy 4:10, the Creator of all things, Genesis 1-2 / Colossians 1:16. An idol can’t see anything but God sees everything, Job 28:24 / Hebrews 4:13, an idol, can’t speak but God has spoken, Hebrews 1:1-2, idols can’t do anything but God is all-powerful, Jeremiah 32:17. Idols are created by mankind, but God create mankind, Genesis 1:27 / Isaiah 43:7.
When we turn to the living God and worship Him when we begin to understand that an idol can’t do anything for us or even save us from our sins, then all of us will give Him the praise that only He deserves because God is truly glorious, 1 Peter 1:3.