Praise Yahweh (Ps 115:16-115:18)

“The heavens are Yahweh’s heavens.

The earth he has given to human beings.

The dead do not praise Yahweh.

Those that go down into silence

Do not praise Yahweh.

We will bless Yahweh

From this time on and forevermore.

Praise Yahweh!”

This psalm ends with a rousing praise to Yahweh or an Alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” In a sharp distinction this psalmist says that the heavens belong to Yahweh, but he has given earth to the humans. The dead and those who are silenced in Sheol cannot praise Yahweh. The living on earth will bless and praise Yahweh from this time on and forever.

Yahweh’s blessing (Ps 115:14-115:15)

“May Yahweh give you increase,

To both you and your children!

May you be blessed by Yahweh,

Who made heaven and earth!”

This is like a priestly blessing. Yahweh will increase you and your children. You will be blessed by Yahweh, who is the grand creator of heaven and earth.

Yahweh blesses Israel (Ps 115:12-115:13)

“Yahweh has been mindful of 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 Yahweh,

Both small and great.”

Although there is no mention of Judah, there does seem to be a difference between “us” and the house of Israel as well as the house of Aaron, the priests. Just as in the preceding verse there is the all inclusive concept of those who fear Yahweh, whether they are small or great. Yahweh was mindful of all of them. He was going to grant his blessings to all included in these categories. This was the confident hope of the congregation that Yahweh would do this.

Yahweh is trustworthy (Ps 115:9-115:11)

“O Israel!

Trust in Yahweh!

He is their help.

He is their shield.

O house of Aaron!

Trust in Yahweh!

He is their help

He is their shield.

You who fear Yahweh!

Trust in Yahweh!

He is their help.

He is their shield.”

This choral hymn asks Israel to trust Yahweh. It also asks the house of Aaron, which are the priests, to trust Yahweh. They always seem to be separate in some sense from the rest of the Israelites. In the end they ask all who fear Yahweh to trust him. He was going to help them. He was going to be their shield against evil doers. Thus this two line refrain is repeated 3 times.

The futility of other gods (Ps 115:4-115:8)

“Their idols are silver and gold.

They are the work of human hands.

They have mouths,

But do not speak.

They have eyes,

But do not see.

They have ears,

But do not hear.

They have noses,

But do not smell.

They have hands,

But do not feel.

They have feet,

But do not walk.

They make no sound in their throat.

Those who make them are like them.

So are all who trust in them.”

The contrast of Yahweh with these gold and silver idols is stark. These idol gods are the works of human hands. They have mouths, eyes, ears, noses, hands, and feet. However, they cannot speak, hear, see, smell, feel, or walk. Thus these impotent idols could not utter any sound. The idols were like those who had made them. They were trusting in themselves. The implication here was that Yahweh, whose name was in the Temple, had the anthropomorphic ability to speak, hear, see, smell, feel, and walk among his people. Many of the Israelite prayers assume this ability as they often pray that Yahweh might speak, hear, and see them.

Our God is in heaven (Ps 115:2-115:3)

“Why should the nations say?

‘Where is their God?’

Our God is in the heavens.                           

He does whatever he pleases.”

Why do people ask where our God is? He is in heaven and does whatever he pleases. This is a simple description of Yahweh, a heavenly God who does whatever he wants.

Give glory to Yahweh (Ps 115:1-115:2)

“Not to us!

Yahweh!

Not to us!

But to your name give glory

For the sake of your steadfast love!

But to your name give glory

For the sake of your faithfulness!”

Psalm 115 does not have any title, but is a liturgy psalm about the glory and might of Yahweh against all the other gods. Yahweh is the one true God. The Israelites gave glory to Yahweh because of his steadfast love and faithfulness. The glory does not belong to them but to the name of Yahweh.