Our God is in the heavens;
He does all that He pleases.
God hunts us down to show us kindness. He chases us down with love. Yes, that means He’s pursuing you right now, even if it doesn’t feel like it. This comforting truth is all the more shocking — and ultimately all the more comforting — when we realize who God really is, as expressed in this week’s Fighter Verse.
First, God is in the heavens. What does that mean? Well, we have to look at the context. The poet who penned Psalm 115 is comparing God to idols. He outright mocks the idiocy of idolatry. And that’s pretty easy to do, because they pretty much played Barbie with their idols. According to at least one Babylonian text, the carvers who had just made a new idol would tie a red ribbon around their wrists (symbolizing that they had “cut off” their hands) and proclaim, “I did not make this idol!” The idea is that because they “don’t have hands,” they clearly didn’t make the idol: it’s a god! Then they would march it down to the river and symbolically show that they didn’t have any gold or silver to make it (again, the statue is “supernatural”). Then they put it into a hut with a statue of a mother goddess and her helpers and a birthing stone. They would lay the idol on the birthing stone in front of the mother goddess. When the priest returned the next morning, he would see that the god had been “born” into the statue overnight. He would then “open the mouth” of the statue, pouring water onto the mouth and whispering a prayer into its ear. Now that it was a god and not a statue, they would take it to his “house” (i.e. the temple). All around would be the god’s family & helpers. At dinner time, they would move the idol to the dining room, set food in front of it, and then pull back the curtain to give the god privacy. At night time, they would move it to the bedroom, because it was time for the god to “sleep.” The whole time, of course, this thing is literally just a statue. When I was a kid, I used to talk to my stuffed animals… but even I didn’t take it that far!
I’ll quote verses 2 – 6 in Robert Alter’s translation of Psalm 115: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their god?’ When our God is in the heavens — all that He desired He has done. Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of man. A mouth they have but they do not speak, eyes they have but they do not see. Ears they have but they do not hear, a nose they have but they do not smell. Their hands — but they do not feel; their feet — but they do not walk; they make no sound with their threat. Like them may be those who make them, all who trust in them. O Israel, trust in Yahweh, their help and their shield is He.” Then the psalmist goes on to repeat the refrain that we must trust in God.
Picture it: idolaters are out there playing with their idols in their giant dollhouses, and they ask, “Ha ha, where’s your god?” And the psalmist replies, “Our God is in the heavens!” If you look above you to the clouds and then to the incomprehensibly vast grandeur of a starry universe beyond even that, that is but a small taste of the God unbounded. God cannot be contained in a dollhouse.
What is more, “He does all that He pleases.” In the psalms, the second line typically progresses the thought expressed by the first line. So “He does all that He pleases” expands on the thought expressed by “Our God is in the heavens.” Their “gods” have mouths and hands but can’t even use them, but our God can make and do absolutely whatever He wants. He can make thunderclouds and comets and moons and planets and suns and giant stars and whirling galaxies to the edge of the visible universe and beyond and anything else He wants.
This week, let your mind fix on the greatness of God. He is wild, boundless, unchangeable, impossible, infinitely huge, incomprehensible, all-powerful beyond measure.
QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH OTHER:
- In God’s eyes, your idols are just as ridiculous as Babylonian “Barbie dolls.” Your idols are equally as undeserving of your trust. Think about one idol that you’re tempted to worship, and explain why it can’t actually do anything for you.
- Spend some time thinking about the greatness of the one true God and praising Him in prayer together.