Holly and I got engaged in February 2007. We desired to run to the altar, so we scheduled the wedding to be that upcoming September. Therefore, planning began immediately. And as things were coming along and we had put down details on paper…we slowly realized we’d have a lot of guests at our wedding who didn’t know the Lord. Many would be familiar with Christianity and church and the Bible, but they were of the sort that those things were only important on Easter or Christmas. From this, a desire grew in us to have our wedding be about far more than just us. We wanted it to be about God, about the gospel, and we didn’t want anyone to leave that day without having heard the gospel clearly. So, Holly and I went searching for a verse to be the central call of our wedding, a verse that encapsulated our desire for hear about who God is, a verse to let everyone what this event was about. We tossed a lot of ideas back and forth, but we eventually landed on Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.”

We chose this verse because, for us, it summed up what we deeply desired everyone to hear and reckon with as they attended our wedding. That the God who brought Holly and I together, who was uniting us in the holy covenant of marriage, is not the god of comfortable American Christianity who far too often thought of as a divine butler who ever lives to serve our every wish and make our lives as comfortable as possible. No, we wanted everyone to know God is the God who plays for keeps, who’s supreme and sovereign over all things, who created marriage for the good of man, for His own glory, and for the display Christ’s love for the Church. Well, having chose the verse we put it everywhere. On our announcements, on our invitations, our programs, even on the top of a welcome letter to all of our out of town guests.

Well, the God of Psalm 115:3 is the God we all must reckon with, and in God’s wisdom we find ourselves coming before this God today, in this very Psalm today. And Lord willing, we’ll see and savor God as over all things, wonderful in His beauty, abundant in blessing, and ever worthy of our trust.

So Church, turn with me now to Psalm 115.

Notice there is no heading or author given for Psalm 115. We don’t know who wrote it, we don’t know when they wrote it, and we don’t know why they wrote it. While we don’t know these things, historians do tell us this Psalm was sung by Israel each year on the 8th day of Passover in memory and celebration of God defeating the idols and false gods of Egypt.[1] Perhaps this gives us a window into why the Psalm was originally written and why Israel sung it year after year. The triumphant tone of the Psalm as it portrays God over all other false gods gave much hope to Israel and gives much hope to us today.

There is much to glean here, so let’s dig in.

The God Over All (v1-8)

Just v1 to start, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!”

If God tells us something once, we would do well to pay attention. But if God tells us something twice, we should do well to stop whatever we’re doing altogether and listen very carefully. Such is v1, see that? Twice we’re told where glory, praise, and honor ought to go. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory.” This teaches a foundational truth. God desires to be glorified. Or we could say, God’s supreme desire over and above all things, the reality that He values as His top priority, the chief aim of all that He does…is His glory, that He would be glorified, and made much of. This not only teaches us about God, who He is and what He’s about, this teaches us about us too. v1 reminds all mankind that we should not only give all glory to God and teach others to do the same, it teaches us we should also be gladly willing to renounce or deflect any glory given to us, directing it back to God. ‘Praise God’, or ‘Glory to God’ isn’t just a nice thing Christians say or what a pastor ought to say after receiving a compliment after a sermon. It’s an honest recognition of God’s deserving of all honor in and for all things.

But look, there’s more to v1. God does desire to be glorified, yes, but He desires to be glorified for specific reasons, and we should desire to make much of Him and not ourselves for specific. “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness!” The addition of ‘for the sake of’ gives concrete direction to our glorification of God. We’re to direct all glory to Him precisely because God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. For this reason, we not only have constant comfort from His love and faithful care of us, but we have every reason to deflect glory away from us to Him, forever.

This is how Psalm 115 begins and launches us out. v1 is a needed and helpful correction to all that the ultimate end for all things isn’t found in us, but found in God above us.

This is expanded in v2-3, “Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” The focus here goes global in perspective with a bold defiance against the nations and their false gods.[2]Many of the nations around Israel arrogantly boast that their own gods are better and stronger than Israel’s ‘God.’ That Israel’s God is absent or invisible while they can easily point to their gods (think statues) before whom they fall down and worship.[3] What’s Israel’s response to this? “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” In the two short phrases of v3, the vast difference between God and all false gods is declared.[4] God is far above all powers and thrones and rulers and authorities as He sits in the heavens undisturbed while erroneous truth claims are thrown against Him. He is in the heavens, where else should He be but higher than all things? Just as God had to come down and descend in order to even see the grand and glorious tower of Babel, so too v3 reminds us He is far above in the heavens, so much so that His pleasure is never hindered and His counsel always stands, however madly the nations may rage. And though this God is infinitely transcendent in His glory, notice it in v3, this God is our God.[5]

Then comes v4-7, where the argument against the gods reaches its highest intensity yet. “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.”

These verses contain seven different accusations. The number seven is intended to form a comprehensive condemnation against the idols of the nations.[6] But, what are idols? Idols have a mouth but can’t speak so they have no voice, no divine revelation proceeds from them, they can make no promises, they can make no threats, they cannot command, they cannot comfort, they are mute. They have eyes but cannot see, so they have no sight, no moral observation or declaration of right and wrong, they cannot tell who worships them, they are blind. They have ears but cannot hear so they cannot be prayed to or praised. They have noses but cannot smell so they have no awareness of an acceptable or unacceptable sacrifice. They have hands but cannot feel so they cannot protect or defend, they cannot provide for or care for, they are powerless. They have feet but cannot walk so they have movement and no activity. There is no sound arising from their throats so they cannot express a single thought or idea. Conclusion? v4 said it, The idols of the nations are nothing more than the work of human hands.

The great theologian of the early Church St. Augustine, commenting on these verses, said, “Even the maker of the idol surpasses them, since he had ability of molding them with his own mind and hands. Even you readers surpass them, though you have not made these things, you can do what they cannot do. Even beasts surpass them, for they hear, smell, and walk…and even the dead surpass them, for they were once alive.” Church, v4-7 is clear. An idol is nothing. How foolish is it then for a man to craft and worship one? Lest you feel safe from this, allow me to remind you that one doesn’t need to be bowing before an image/statue to be worshiping an idol. An idol can be anything in creation we elevate to God’s place in our hearts’ affection. It can be both bad things as well as good things, anything we substitute for God becomes an idol to us: money, power, sex, fame, status, the praise of man, children, wife, husband, retirement, work, leisure, patriotism, fitness, sport, school, food, cleanliness, quiet around the house, fine wine, coffee, streaming services, phone’s, great works of fiction, even past or present heroes and icons.

If it wasn’t strong enough already, v8 takes it further, “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” Church, idols are blind, mute, deaf, and unfeeling in every way possible. Those who give themselves to and trust in idols become these things as well. So, idolatry both dishonors God and destroys ourselves. Thus, we need the warning found in the last verse of 1 John, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Psalm 115 has been clear in v1-8. God is over all. It doesn’t end here, it keeps going. Because God is over all, we ought to also see Him as the God of trust (v9-11), the God of blessing (v12-15), and the God of praise (v16-18).

The God of Trust (v9-11)

“O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.”

Well, as v1-8 showed us, if our trust shouldn’t be put in idols, where should it be? In God. Three different groups receive a repeated refrain here. Israel (think the whole nation), the house of Aaron (think all the priests), and all who fear the Lord (think of everyone else), trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord. Why? Again we hear it three times, He is our help and shield.

That v9-11 comes after v1-8 is meant to reveal to us that the living God who is over all and greater than all the dead idols of the nations, this God, is the only One worthy of our trust. Earlier I said we should stop everything and listen very carefully if God tells us something twice, but here there is a threefold repetition. Lesson? This is how we respond to the God of v1-8, with our wholehearted trust. And the reason given is that He has acted on our behalf, He has been and remains to be our help and shield. These two words help and shield are similar but bring up different images to us. Help is a general word we often use when we need assistance or aid. Shield is a word that brings up the image of war. A shield helps us by defending us, guarding us, protecting us, and at times it can be used offensively as well to push back against an enemy. The idols of v4-7 are weak, utterly impotent against any foe.[7] God, to all who trust in Him, is strong, wonderfully capable of defeating any foe that comes against Him or His own. Therefore, we should trust Him. Trust that He is able to do for us what He says He can do for us, actually be our help and shield.

God is not only the God of trust, but move onto v12-15, we see here He is…

The God of Blessing (v12-15)

“The LORD has remembered us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel; He will bless the house of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the LORD, both the small and the great. May the LORD give you increase, you and your children! May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!”

Here we have the same three groups in view as before: the house of Israel, the house of Aaron, and those who fear the Lord. But notice, there is now a fivefold repetition of God’s blessing to us. Five times we hear, “…He will bless…”. Such a blessing, we might think, comes only to those who are worthy of it but see v13? This God will bless both the small and the great. Both the prince and pauper. Both the rich and the wretched. Both the prosperous and the peasant. Why? Why would such a God be this bent toward so blessing His own? Context matters Church, this is where we need to see the glory of v12-15 only comes after v1-8 and v9-11. Those who trust in dead idols will ever be disappointed, because idols are nothing and can do nothing. But those who trust in the living God, the Lord over all things, will never be disappointed. Because He delights to bless, to do good, to blank those who trust Him.[8]

The movement of Psalm 115 brings us to this. If we see and are stunned by the God of v1-8, we’ll trust in Him as v9-11 says, and if we trust in Him, we’ll come into, we’ll experience, and we’ll enjoy the blessing of God as v12-15 says. And be sure of this, blessing does not impoverish the Lord in any degree.[9] He is indeed a well that never runs dry. The fullest extent of this blessing comes to us in the birth of Jesus, as John 1:16 describes, “For from His fullness (that is, the fullness of the Word made flesh to live for us, die for us, rise for us) we all have received grace upon grace.”

What then does all of this lead us to? The God over all, the God of trust, and the God of blessing? If we see Him as He is, as these things describe Him to be, we’ll find Him to also be what v16-18 says He is…

The God of Praise (v16-18)

“The heavens are the LORD’S heavens, but the earth He has given to the children of man. The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD!”

In a sense we’ve come full circle now, back to v1-8. “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory…our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.” Now we find in v16 the heavens belong to the Lord. And unlike the worshippers of mute images and dead idols, we see v17-18 confirm again that the dead do not praise the Lord.[10] But, see it Church. Because He is who He is, because He is worthy of our trust, because He has so blessed us, “…we will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” The phrase ‘from this time forth’ means right now.[11] This should not be delayed any longer. You can begin this now! You ought to begin blessing the Lord now! And once the soul begins blessing the Lord, the Lord will see that it continues to do so, “…from this time forth and forevermore.” Even after death, our praise continues on, for those who know the Lord it is not death to die! As the old hymn puts it, “When this poor lisping stammering tongue, lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing thy power to save!”


I began today telling you of Holly and I’s desire for those who came to our wedding to know the Lord, so we chose Psalm 115:3 to be our central theme. Now, that we’ve gone through this Psalm here today, I want to say this: Psalm 115 is meant to be sung, but it can only be truly sung by those who know God, in Christ, and are filled with His Spirit. The God over all of v1-8, is worthy of our trust, is blessing His people, and is creating a people filled and overflowing with His praise by the gospel and through the gospel. We are more sinful than we could ever imagine, but God in Christ has loved us more than we could ever dare hope.

Do you know God? Do you know His gospel? If you do, Psalm 115 will be your song from this forth and forevermore!

Praise the LORD!

[1] Nancy DeClaisse-Walford, Psalms – NICOT (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2014) 853.

[2] Derek Kidner, Psalm 73-150 (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 1975) 439.

[3] James Montgomery Boice, Psalm 107-150 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2005) accessed via Logos Bible software, 7.14.22.

[4] DeClaisse-Walford, 855.

[5] Kidner, 440.

[6] Alec Motyer, Psalms By the Day (Cleveland, Ohio: Focus, 2016) 323.

[7] Boice.

[8] Boice.

[9] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David – Psalm 111-150 (Mclean, Virginia: MacDonald) 56.

[10] Kidner, 442.

[11] Spurgeon, 57.

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