Daily Family Worship

Psalm 115: “Non Nobis, Domine!”

by | Jun 19, 2024

psalm 115

This is a glorious Psalm of thanksgiving, wherein the God of Israel is praised as the one and only true and living God, and the Savior of all who believe and trust in Him. In contrast, all other gods are shown to be stupid and silent idols, which can save neither themselves nor others.

So the Psalmist, in the first verse, begins by exclaiming, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give the glory!” It is as if he had prayed thus: “Look not upon us, O Lord, to see how good or how righteous we are – for if You do this, You will never help us nor save us; and we shall remain a people without salvation and without God, like all the nations around us. Instead, O God, look at Your Holy Word, and at the glory of Your own name; for You are our God, and the true and the living God – with Whom is mercy and plenteous redemption. Therefore, O Lord, according to Your promises of grace; and according to Your counsel and Your covenant, in which You have said, “I am the Lord your God” – according to this glorious name of Yours, deal in mercy with us; for we have no good name of our own, wherein we may boast!”

“Non nobis, Domine” – or, in English, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!” Those are the opening words of this Psalm, and every careful reader can see the connection between this Psalm and the one which precedes it. In the 114th, we see the grateful Jews sitting around the Passover-table, feasting upon the lamb and singing of the miracles of Jehovah at the Red Sea and the Jordan River. It must have been a very jubilant song that they sang in those words! But when that joyful hymn was finished, and the cup of wine was passed round the table, they struck another note. They remembered their sad condition as they heard the heathen mock them: “Where is now their God?” They recollected the fact that for many years, perhaps, there had been no miracle nor prophet nor vision. And then they began to chant a prayer that God would appear – not for their sakes, but for His own name’s sake; so that the ancient glory which He won for Himself at the Red Sea and the Jordan River might not be lost, and so that the heathen might no longer be able to tauntingly say, “Where is now their God?”

These opening words – “Not unto us, O Lord!” – are a powerful plea in prayer, even for us. There are times when this is the only plea that we, as God’s people, can use. There are some occasions when we can plead with the Lord to bless us, for this reason or for that; but sometimes dark experiences come, when there seems to be no reason that can suggest itself to us why God should give us deliverance or a blessing, except this one: that He would be pleased to do it in order to glorify His own name. You may be emboldened to urge that plea, even if the person for whom you are pleading is exceedingly vile. In fact, the terribly black sinfulness of a sinner is even more of a reason to pray that the Lord’s mercy and lovingkindness may be brilliantly seen by all who know of the sinful soul’s guilt!

But the words of this text also offer us practical direction in our daily lives. For one thing, they guide us in our sphere of service. We will always be safe in doing that which is not for our own glory, but which is distinctly for the glory of God. Then, too, these words have the ability to show us how to choose between two courses of action that lie before us. Whatever our sinful flesh revolts against, that is what we should choose. We must resolve, “‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory!’ I will do that which will most honor my Lord and Master, and not that which would best please myself!” 

Thank You, Lord for Your redeeming grace and love, which have brought us out from serving idols, and taught us to serve and love You – the ever-living and true God! Amen.

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