Hallel Day 5 Not To Us: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Why is the psalmist so adamant about the glory belonging to God and how do love and truth connect with His glory? (verse 1)

2) What is the main contrasting point of the psalm in verses 2-4?

3) What is the culminating point of drawing out all the physical character traits of idols, or lack thereof? (verses 5-8)

Psalm 115:1-8

Not to us, Lord, not to us,
but to your name give glory
because of your faithful love, because of your truth.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven
and does whatever he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk.
They cannot make a sound with their throats.
Those who make them are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.

Original Intent

1) Why is the psalmist so adamant about the glory belonging to God and how do love and truth connect with His glory? (verse 1)
Psalms 113-118 were traditionally one single collection of hymns intended to be sung all together at special moments in Israel’s history, like Passover. Because the story of one psalm was meant to be sung in connection with the following song, it’s important we study them in view of each other. This particular song follows on the heels of Israel’s deliverance being told again in abbreviated, poetic, and lyrical fashion from Psalm 114. As time passed for Israel, it was of utmost importance to keep telling the story of their rescue from slavery to a new generation, and one could not tell it without also declaring how magnificent was their God who Rescued! Parting the Red Sea, shaking the earth with thunderous roar, and splitting the Jordan River were impossible, impressive feats. Yet, they were only three of many catalytic events following the greatest moment that began it all, when a nationless people numbering in the thousands were freed from a domineering world power like the Egyptians. They weren’t freed because the Hebrews were anything special (Deuteronomy 7:7-9), but because their God, Yahweh, was full of love, grace, kindness, and truth. 

2) What is the main contrasting point of the psalm in verses 2-4?
The psalmist intends to set up a sharp contrast between the Lord God Almighty and the then-popular cultural alternative which were physical idols. This was a challenge then, as it is today, because Yahweh was, and is, unseen. It was easy for neighboring nations and people groups to look at Israel’s troubles and mock them, “Where is your God?! Why isn’t He doing what you want?!” because they were accustomed to worshipping physical idols, attempting to manipulate them to “do” what they wanted. This portion of the Hallel declares with authority in response to this mockery, “Our God is in Heaven and He does whatever He wants!”. Yahweh acted with total sovereign authority. He moved with wisdom and spoke and willed with love and truth. He could not be controlled by human hands and refused to share His glory with anything less than Himself. (Isaiah 42:8) The Lord God held all authority and all power as the all-seeing and all-knowing God of ALL. Nothing or no one else could hold a candle to Him, least of all idols made with human hands, even if they were crafted from the best earthly materials like silver or gold. (verse 4) Idols were made from human hands. (2 Kings 19:18) Yahweh had crafted humanity itself.

3) What is the culminating point of drawing out all the physical character traits of idols, or lack thereof? (verses 5-8)
Idols shaped by the human hands of the nations surrounding Israel, and applying their own peer pressure at the time, all had the appearance of power and control, but in reality, were deaf, mute, and powerless. They were merely blocks of wood. The prophet Isaiah made it plain in his declaration, “(a man) makes a god and worships it (from a block of wood); he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also, he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”.” Foolishness! The Hallel sings poignantly with great conviction of the conclusion for these idol-makers, “Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.” (verse 8) Those who fashion the idol and those who worship them have the same end, they become as powerless and empty of life and love as the wood from which the idol was formed. Idol worshippers merely have the appearance of power and life, but in reality, they have nothing.

Everyday Application

1) Why is the psalmist so adamant about the glory belonging to God and how do love and truth connect with His glory? (verse 1)
God is neither random nor chaotic or reckless. He is precise and intentional; everything He does is born from unimaginable love. Before Israel became a nation, they were simply known as the Hebrews who had multiplied significantly from a single family, Jacob (whose name God changed to “Israel”) who had 12 sons. Fathering Jacob, was Isaac, who was Abraham’s “Son of the Promise”. Isaac was the baby God said would be born to Abraham and Sarah even though they were much too old to have children. Isaac would be the seed from whom would come as many children as number the stars in the sky or sand on shores. Through Isaac’s line, Jesus would one day come and fling wide the door for all peoples to come to know Him, whether Jew or Gentile. Their access to God would come through faith alone, which even that would be a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) None of this would be possible by human work, ability, or bloodline, only through the sacrifice of Jesus and His work to fulfill the Law perfectly for us. Israel’s story line of only God receiving the glory is the same chorus every believing heart who has trusted Christ for salvation can sing, “Not to us, not to us, oh Lord, but only to Your Name give glory because of Your faithful love and truth!” 

2) What is the main contrasting point of the psalm in verses 2-4?
It is so hard to admit out loud and with the actions of our everyday life that we do not have control! We want to pick up our pen or our email or whatever other “proof” we decide is relevant and say, “Yes, I DO have control, just look!”. This heart attitude is precisely the target of the truths declared in this portion of the Hallel. All pride is called out and intended to be laid down on the altar of true humility before the God of the universe. We submit to Him. All those things that immediately pop into our minds when we think of the control we like to think we can assert, are indeed our most favorite idols. We may not make them with our hands and physically bow down to them in our culture, but our idols are just as abundant in our everyday lives. Our children, our relationships, our clean homes, our attire, our possessions, our abilities, all of these can be our idols. We give them our worship and we live like they hold supreme value. But the Lord of All roars with thunderous authority that He alone is God. He alone deserves our highest praise and best affections. When we usurp this glory by shoving our idols above Him in our everyday living, we set ourselves up for all manner of chaos and brokenness and absence of peace. Where do you need to tear down idols of your own design and submit them to the Lord of All in humble understanding that He alone is worthy?

3) What is the culminating point of drawing out all the physical character traits of idols, or lack thereof? (verses 5-8)
We all want a life full of love exhibited by vibrant, healthy relationships. We all want to experience our “best life”, but when we attempt to attain this life through our own version of idol worship, we will always be left as devoid of life as the thing we worship. Only ONE being has the ability to give life to its fullest, and He is the Author of Life itself. Nothing we create with our hands or launch all of our love onto can satisfy us because they are all created by Another. Only one bigger than us, our lives, and our loves, can fill us with real, lasting, genuine love and life. Christ offers this very experience through trusting Him and following Him. It is only when we lay our idols down that we are free to be made alive in Christ! Do you struggle with feelings of emptiness, always looking for the next best experience to fulfill you and make you happy? This road only ends at one destination, emptiness. Take some time to consider what’s holding you back from trusting Jesus as the Savior from your sin. Ask for His abundant life and let your idols be torn down and replaced by genuine worship for the Only God who is worthy!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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