The Lord made the heavens

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96:5 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about this verse for a couple of days. There are many places in Scripture where we are reminded of the utter helplessness and impotence of man-made objects of worship. These are “idols” that become “gods” to us. These are objects that we fashion ourselves, as in Psalm 115:4-8:

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.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Impotent, powerless, insensitive, empty. Made of precious materials, but of no value whatsoever.

But why in the immediate context, does the psalmist compare the “gods” to the Lord as the maker of “the heavens”?

This is what I’ve been thinking about. The Lord of my life “made the heavens.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Out of nothing, God created everything. What has an idol created? It had to be fashioned, either as a physical object, as with the “worthless idols” referred to in the psalm, or as an object in my mind, such as my sense of self-worth, pride, desire, passion, or self-confidence.

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

Oh, foolish heart! Why do I continue to trust in myself? Why do I continue to put myself as the greatest idol of my life? All worthless idols are just means to an end: self-exaltation. I don’t even want the idols or want to worship the idols for what they are. I want what they can give me, make me–how they can satisfy my never-ending need for what I want: glory.

And I resist God’s glorious call to me because I know that God will not serve me. I must come to him and worship him for who he is, and that alone. Though the phrase, “who he is”, is full of everything that was, is and is to come. He will not be confined by my limited knowledge of him.

I want to be known! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want fame! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be esteemed and revered! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be loved on my terms! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want my desires to be fulfilled! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

I am crushed into surrendered sweetness by the weight of his glory.

“I shall again praise him…”

Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11

The longing to praise God doesn’t go away when I am in the depths of despair. I wrestle within my soul because I know the truth: God is my salvation and my hope, my only surety, the only one in whom I can fully trust. I know these things!

So, why I am struggling so? Why am I so sad?

Oh, God, is my wrestling with these thoughts worship? I am trying to work these things out before you. Am I giving you praise in the midst of it? And by that I mean am I looking to you alone for the answers? Praise is recognizing God, recognizing you, Father, for all you are. All of your majesty, all of your holiness, all of your love, all of your grace, all of your justice, all of your faithfulness, all of your steadfastness, all of your power.

As I cry out to you from the depths of my despair I am seeing through the tears, through the dimness of the dark day, that you are the only one I can turn to. You are the only one I can cry out to. So, I am praising you. I am worshiping you, even in the pain. I praise you in the dark as I seek your light.

There is a dawn coming. And in the light of that dawn, I will see you anew and afresh. I shall again praise you in the light of day.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Ps. 108:3-4

Psalm 86:8-10, 15

There is none like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours.
All the nations You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God.
….
You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

A new song

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Ps. 40:3 (ESV)

What was the “old” song of my mouth? I think it was the song of doubt and fear and worry. I tried to over come these by building myself up, trying to convince myself that *I*was the solution to my problem. “If I could just get my act together, then I could pull myself up out of this depression, out of my worry and despair.” I can’t say how many times I thought this. “If I could…” “If *I* could…”

It was only when I realized, by the mercy of God, that *I* could NOT, but that *God* could, that my life changed forever. I cried out to Him…”He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” (Ps. 40:1-2)

When I turned to Him, *He* put the new song in my mouth, the “song of praise”. It was also the song of utter dependence. What a joy! What a hope!
“I will bless The Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Ps. 34:1)

Spurgeon on the blessings of praise

This is a wonderful exhortation on the blessings of praise. It comes from the devotional, “Morning and Evening.”

“I will praise thee, O Lord.”
— Psalm 9:1

Praise should always follow answered prayer; as the mist of earth’s gratitude rises when the sun of heaven’s love warms the ground. Hath the Lord been gracious to thee, and inclined his ear to the voice of thy supplication? Then praise him as long as thou livest. Let the ripe fruit drop upon the fertile soil from which it drew its life. Deny not a song to him who hath answered thy prayer and given thee the desire of thy heart.

To be silent over God’s mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude; it is to act as basely as the nine lepers, who after they had been cured of their leprosy, returned not to give thanks unto the healing Lord. To forget to praise God is to refuse to benefit ourselves; for praise, like prayer, is one great means of promoting the growth of the spiritual life.

It helps to remove our burdens, to excite our hope, to increase our faith. It is a healthful and invigorating exercise which quickens the pulse of the believer, and nerves him for fresh enterprises in his Master’s service. To bless God for mercies received is also the way to benefit our fellow-men; “the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.” Others who have been in like circumstances shall take comfort if we can say, “Oh! magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together; this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.” Weak hearts will be strengthened, and drooping saints will be revived as they listen to our “songs of deliverance.” Their doubts and fears will be rebuked, as we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They too shall “sing in the ways of the Lord,” when they hear us magnify his holy name.

Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night; and the redeemed, clothed in white robes, with palm-branches in their hands, are never weary of singing the new song, “Worthy is the Lamb.”

C.H. Spurgeon