Psalm 115:4
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
(4-8) This passage cannot compare with the magnificent irony of Isaiah 44:9-20, but there is still a noticeable vein of sarcasm running through it, visible even more in the original than in the English. (Comp. Psalm 135:15-18.)

Psalm 115:4-7. Their idols — The objects of their idolatrous worship, are silver and gold — That is, images made of silver and gold, dug out of the earth. Their gods are so far from being the makers of all things, or of any thing, that they themselves are the work of those that adore them. As the matter of them is wholly from the earth, so they have their form and figure from the art of man; and therefore they ought rather, if it were possible, to worship man, as their Creator and Lord, than be worshipped by him. They have mouths, &c. — The painter, the carver, the statuary performed their parts: they gave them the figure and appearance of mouths and eyes, ears and noses, hands and feet. But they could not put life into them, nor therefore any sense. They speak not in answer to those that consult them. They see not the prostrations of their worshippers before them, much less their distresses or wants. They hear not their prayers, how loud soever; they smell not their incense, however strong or sweet; they handle not the gifts presented to them, much less have they any gifts to bestow on their worshippers, or are able to stretch out their hands to the needy. They walk not; nor can they stir a step for the relief of those that apply to them for help. Nay, they do not so much as breathe through their throat, nor have they the least sign or symptom of life or motion: but are things as perfectly dead after the priest has pretended to consecrate them, and call a deity into them, as they were before. Here then we have a most striking and “beautiful contrast between the God of Israel and the heathen idols. He made every thing, they are themselves made by men; he is in heaven, they are upon earth; he doth whatsoever he pleaseth, they can do nothing; he seeth the distresses, heareth and answereth the prayers, accepteth the offerings, cometh to the assistance, and effecteth the salvation of his servants; they are blind, deaf, and dumb, senseless, motionless, and impotent.” And observe well, reader, “equally slow to hear, equally impotent to save, in time of greatest need, will every worldly idol prove, on which men have set their affections, and to which they, in effect, say, Thou art my God.” — Horne.115:1-8 Let no opinion of our own merits have any place in our prayers or in our praises. All the good we do, is done by the power of his grace; and all the good we have, is the gift of his mere mercy, and he must have all the praise. Are we in pursuit of any mercy, and wrestling with God for it, we must take encouragement in prayer from God only. Lord, do so for us; not that we may have the credit and comfort of it, but that they mercy and truth may have the glory of it. The heathen gods are senseless things. They are the works of men's hands: the painter, the carver, the statuary, can put no life into them, therefore no sense. The psalmist hence shows the folly of the worshippers of idols.Their idols - Their gods - the gods which they worship, as contrasted with the God whom we adore. The design of this description Psalm 115:4-8 is to show the utter vanity of trusting in such gods, and to lead the people of Israel to put their trust in the true God - in Yahweh.

Are silver and gold - Made of silver and gold, and they must have, therefore, the properties of silver and gold. They can be of value only as silver and gold. They cannot do the work of mind; they cannot do the work of God. The psalmist was not disposed to depreciate the real value of these idols, or to throw contempt on them which they did not deserve. He was disposed to treat them fairly. They were silver and gold; they had an intrinsic value as such; they showed in the value of the material how much the pagan were disposed to honor their objects of worship; and they were not held up to contempt as shapeless blocks of wood or stone. The psalmist might have said that most of them were made of wood or stone, and were mere shapeless blocks; but it is always best to do justice to an adversary, and not to attempt to underrate what he values. The argument of an infidel on the subject of religion may be utterly worthless as an argument for infidelity, but it may evince ability, learning, subtilty, clearness of reasoning, and even candor; and it is best to admit this, if it is so, and to give to it all the credit which it deserves as a specimen of reasoning, or as stating a real difficulty which ought to be solved by somebody - to call it "silver and gold" if it is so, and not to characterize it as worthless, weak, stupid - the result of ignorance and folly. He has great advantage in an argument who owns the real force of what an opponent says; he gains nothing who charges it as the offspring of stupidity, ignorance, and folly - unless he can show that it is so.

The work of men's hands - Shaped and fashioned by people's hands. They cannot, therefore, be superior to those who made them; they cannot answer the purpose of a God.

4-7. (Compare Isa 40:18-20; 44:9-20). Thus glorious and powerful is our God, O ye heathens, of whom you so boldly ask who and where he is; but as for your gods or idols, they have no power nor worth in them but what is taken from their materials. As their matter is wholly from the earth, so their form or figure they have from the art of man; and therefore they should rather, if it were possible, worship man, as their creator and lord, than be worshipped by him. Their idols are silver and gold,.... The idols of the Gentiles; so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions. The gods they serve and worship are not in the heavens; but the matter of which they are made is dug out of the earth: and this is the greatest excellency and value that there is in them; and such as are made of these are of the greatest worth, and yet only for the matter of them, otherwise useless and inanimate statues; such are the idols of the Papists, Revelation 9:20.

The work of men's hands; the matter of them is gold and silver, which they owe to the earth as their original; the form of them they owe to men, and therefore can not be God, Hosea 8:6. If it is idolatry to worship what God has made, the sun, moon, and stars, it must be gross idolatry, and great stupidity, to worship what man has made: if it is sinful to worship the creature besides the Creator, or more than him, it must be still more so to worship the creature of a creature.

Their idols are {d} silver and gold, the work of men's hands.

(d) Seeing that neither the matter nor the form can commend their idols it follows that there is no reason that they should be esteemed.

4. Their idols] i.e. the idols of the nations, as Psalm 135:15, and the LXX and Jerome here, read.

4–8. Do the heathen taunt us with the impotence of our God? What are their own gods? Nothing but their own handiwork, destitute of ordinary human senses, though represented with organs of sense. For similar sarcastic descriptions of idols and the contrast between them and the living God, see Isaiah 44:9-20; Jeremiah 10:1-16 Deuteronomy 4:28; Isaiah 2:20; Habakkuk 2:18-19; Wis 15:15. The passage recurs in Psalm 135:15-18. Observe how completely the Psalmist identifies the god with the image: it has no separate existence.Verses 4-8. - The scorn of the heathen is retaliated. They scoff at the God of Israel. What, then, are their own gods? Silver and gold indeed (ver. 4), but the work of human hands. Fashioned into a human shape, as if they were sentient being - but absolutely devoid of all sense and intelligence. The satire is somewhat roughly worked out (vers. 5-7), but idolatry provokes rough speaking; and the tone here adopted is imitated in Psalm 135:15-18, and echoed in Isaiah 44:9-20. The inspired writers seem to have felt, that, when idolatry came under consideration, the criticism should be brief and trenchant. Verse 4. - Their idols are silver and gold. At the best - often mere wood and stone (Deuteronomy 4:28); but the idols of the Babylonians were mostly of the more precious materials (Herod., 1:183; Daniel 3:1; Ep. Jeremiah 1:4, 11, etc.). The work of men's hands (Psalm 135:15; Isaiah 44:12-17). To avoid this reproach, some images were said to have fallen down from heaven (Acts 19:35). The poet, when he asks, "What aileth thee, O sea, that thou fleest...?" lives and moves in this olden time as a contemporary, or the present and the olden time as it were flow together to his mind; hence the answer he himself gives to the question propounded takes the form of a triumphant mandate. The Lord, the God of Jacob, thus mighty in wondrous works, it is before whom the earth must tremble. אדון does not take the article because it finds its completion in the following יעקב (אלוהּ); it is the same epizeuxis as in Psalm 113:8; Psalm 94:3; Psalm 96:7, Psalm 96:13. ההפכי has the constructive ı̂ out of the genitival relation; and in למעינו in this relation we have the constructive ô, which as a rule occurs only in the genitival combination, with the exception of this passage and בּנו באר, Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:15 (not, however, in Proverbs 13:4, "his, the sluggard's, soul"), found only in the name for wild animals חיתו־ארץ, which occurs frequently, and first of all in Genesis 1:24. The expression calls to mind Psalm 107:35. הצּוּר is taken from Exodus 17:6; and חלּמישׁ (lxx τὴν ἀκρότομον, that which is rugged, abrupt)

(Note: One usually compares Arab. chlnbûs, chalnabûs the Karaite lexicographer Abraham ben David writes חלמבוס]; but this obsolete word, as a compound from Arab. chls, to be black-grey, and Arab. chnbs, to be hard, may originally signify a hard black-grey stone, whereas חלמישׁ looks like a mingling of the verbal stems Arab. ḥms, to be hard, and Arab. ḥls, to be black-brown (as Arab. jlmûd, a detached block of rock, is of the verbal stems Arab. jld, to be hard, and Arab. jmd, to be massive). In Hauran the doors of the houses and the window-shutters are called Arab. ḥalasat when they consist of a massive slab of dolerite, probably from their blackish hue. Perhaps חלמישׁ is the ancient name for basalt; and in connection with the hardness of this form of rock, which resembles a mass of cast metal, the breaking through of springs is a great miracle. - Wetzstein. For other views vid., on Isaiah 49:21; Isaiah 50:7.)

stands, according to Deuteronomy 8:15, poetically for סלע, Numbers 20:11, for it is these two histories of the giving of water to which the poet points back. But why to these in particular? The causing of water to gush forth out of the flinty rock is a practical proof of unlimited omnipotence and of the grace which converts death into life. Let the earth then tremble before the Lord, the God of Jacob. It has already trembled before Him, and before Him let it tremble. For that which He has been He still ever is; and as He came once, He will come again.

Psalm 115:4 Interlinear
Psalm 115:4 Parallel Texts

Psalm 115:4 NIV
Psalm 115:4 NLT
Psalm 115:4 ESV
Psalm 115:4 NASB
Psalm 115:4 KJV

Psalm 115:4 Bible Apps
Psalm 115:4 Parallel
Psalm 115:4 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 115:4 Chinese Bible
Psalm 115:4 French Bible
Psalm 115:4 German Bible

Bible Hub

Psalm 115:3
Top of Page
Top of Page