The setting of this psalm is one of national discouragement. Yahweh’s people come home feeling defeated and discouraged. The nations around them mock them saying, “Where is your God?” These nations are peoples who reject Yahweh (Ps. 2, 9-10). They do not trust Yahweh. Rather, they trust in the gods they have made.
Yahweh’s people now come to the temple to express their lament. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” (Ps. 115:2) The nations ask, “Where is their God?” They are saying, “Their God is not there to help them.” On the surface, it looks like it. Israel was defeated by the Babylonians. They were exiled to a far away land. They just returned after years of captivity. Where indeed is their God?
This question makes them feel that their God is powerless. Since their God is powerless, they are also powerless. They are tempted, therefore, to measure their God according to their own power and success and happiness as the people of God.
But to measure God by their success, is to make their own god. To make their own god is make an idol of their own making.Yet they know that the God of Israel is not a god that they can measure by their own power, success, and happiness.
That is why they now ask God to act for the sake of God.“Not for our own sake, LORD, not for our own sake, but for your sake—please glorify Your Name. According to your steadfast love and faithfulness to us, glorify Yourself” (Ps. 115:1). The words, “steadfast love,” is from the Hebrew, hesed, which means, “loving kindness” (NASB) or “unfailing love” (NIV).” Since the context is the “house of Israel” and the “house of Aaron,” this steadfast love must be covenant love (v. 12). Covenant love is the love that God has bound Himself to His covenant people, Israel. They ask God to glorify Himself by acting according to His covenant with His people. They want to glorify God, not for their sake, but for the sake of the name of Yahweh.
Have you heard this question, “Where is God in all this?” Millions in Cebu celebrate a famous idol, the Sto. Nino, while born-again Christians are seemingly silent. Our god can be held by our hands. We can dress and undress our god. He answers our prayers. But where is your God? A beloved relative has cancer. Where is your God? Until today, you are still looking for a job. Where is your God?
When you wonder where is your God, ask God, “Not to us, not to us, but to Your Name, O Lord, give glory.” Ask him to do what He has promised to do, according to His covenant love and faithfulness in Christ. The glory of God is manifested by His covenant love for His people.