Recently, a famous television show came to its conclusion. Never again will we tune in to view “American Idol”. After fifteen seasons, the show decided to call it quits. Many of you may well be very familiar with the show. It has produced a number of singers who have gone on to become very famous. Those singers are now “idolized” by millions. I suppose the show was aptly named.
What is an idol? Bluntly speaking, it is something that someone else worships. It is something created, something man-made. Often we associate idols with various images or statues we have seen throughout history. Yet it becomes evident, upon closer inspection, that idols can be much more abstract in form. We can idolize appearance, power, security, relationships, feelings, money, and even self.
Thus we see, in Psalm 115, the author starting the psalm with the words, “Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give glory.” An idol, when using the word in a scriptural context, is anything to which we give glory above God. He is primarily and supremely worthy of glory. We should not reserve our glory for anything or anybody else, even if that “anybody else” is us.
The author goes on to define and describe idols. Usually in the psalms, we get prayers or something resembling song lyrics. Here, we seem to be getting theological teaching. Idols are the work of human hands, not a creation of God. They have the appearance of being alive–mouths, eyes, ears, and hands–but there is no life in them. They have no power or ability. Any influence they have over us has been granted to them by us. We make them out to be something they are not. We allow them to have control over our lives.
Verse 8 is a most interesting commentary on idols. “Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” When we give glory to another over God, this is what happens. When we elevate something–anything, even ourselves and our relationships and our perspectives and preferences–over God, we become like those idols. And the author has told us that those idols are powerless. They are lifeless. So, too, are we when we trust in such idols.
In verse 9, the psalmist urges the readers to trust in the Lord. Forget about heaven and eternity for a moment. When we place our faith in God–and in His Son, Jesus–above all else, we find life. We find power for the living of that life. Don’t settle for a life of worshipping things that are lifeless and powerless. Commit to God, as the psalmist does in verse 18: “We will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!”