Verse 2. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? Or, more literally, "Where, pray, is their God?" Why should the nations be allowed with a sneer of contempt to question the existence, and mercy, and faithfulness of Jehovah? They are always ready to blaspheme; we may well pray that they may not derive a reason for so doing from the course of providence, or the decline of the church. When they see the godly down trodden while they themselves live at ease, and act the part of persecutors, they are very apt to speak as if they had triumphed over God himself, or as if he had altogether left the field of action and deserted his saints. When the prayers and tears of the godly seem to be unregarded, and their miseries are rather increased than assuaged, then do the wicked multiply their taunts and jeers, and even argue that their own wretched irreligion is better than the faith of Christians, because for the present their condition is so much preferable to that of the afflicted saints. And, truly, this is the very sting of the trials of God's chosen when they see the veracity of the Lord questioned, and the name of God profaned because of their sufferings. If they could hope that some good result would come out of all this they would endure it with patience; but as they are unable to perceive any desirable result consequent thereon, they enquire with holy anxiety. "Wherefore should the heathen be permitted to speak thus?" It is a question to which it would be hard to reply, and yet no doubt there is an answer. Sometimes the nations are permitted thus to blaspheme, in order that they may fill up the measure of their iniquity, and in order that the subsequent interposition of God may be rendered the more illustrious in contrast with their profane boastings. Do they say, "Where is now their God?" They shall know by and by, for it is written, "Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries"; they shall know it also when the righteous shall "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Do they say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" That coming shall be speedy and terrible to them. In our own case, by our own lukewarmness and the neglect of faithful gospel preaching, we have permitted the uprise and spread of modern doubt, and we are bound to confess it with deep sorrow of soul; yet we may not therefore lose heart, but may still plead with God to save his own truth and grace from the contempt of men of the world. Our honour and the honour of the church are small matters, but the glory of God is the jewel of the universe, of which all else is but the setting; and we may come to the Lord and plead his jealousy for his name, being well assured that he will not suffer that name to be dishonoured. Wherefore should the pretended wise men of the period be permitted to say that they doubt the personality of God? Wherefore should they say that answers to prayer are pious delusions, and that the resurrection and the deity of our Lord Jesus are moot points? Wherefore should they be permitted to speak disparagingly of atonement by blood and by price, and reject utterly the doctrine of the wrath of God against sin, even that wrath which burneth for ever and ever? They speak exceeding proudly, and only God can stop their arrogant blusterings: let us by extraordinary intercession prevail upon him to interpose, by giving to his gospel such a triumphant vindication as shall utterly silence the perverse opposition of ungodly men.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2-3. If God be everywhere, why doth Christ teach us to pray, "Our Father which art in heaven"? And when the heathen made that scoffing demand, Where is now their God? why did David answer, Our God is in the heavens? To these and all other texts of like import we may answer; heaven is not there spoken of as bounding the presence of God, but as guiding the faith and hope of man. "In the morning" (saith David, Psalms 5:3 ) "will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up!" When the eye hath no sight of any help on earth, then faith may have the clearest vision of it in heaven. And while God appears so little in any gracious dispensation for his people on earth, that the enemy begins to scoff, "Where is now their God?" when his people have recourse by faith to heaven, where the Lord not only is, but is glorious in his appearing. From whence as he the better seeth how it is with us, so he seems to have a position of advantage for relieving us. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 2-8. Contrast Jehovah with any other God. Why should the heathen say, Where, pray, (ag) is your God? Take up Moses' brief description in Deuteronomy 4:28 , and expand it as is done here. Idols of gold and silver have a mouth, but give no counsel to their worshippers; eyes, but see not the devotions nor the wants of those who serve them; ears, but hear not their cries of distress or songs of praise; nostrils, but smell not the fragrant incense presented to their images; hands, but the thunderbolt which they seem to hold (as Jupiter Tonans in after days), is a brutum fulmen, they cannot launch it; feet, but they cannot move to help the fallen. Ah! they cannot so much as whisper one syllable of response, or even mutter in their throat! And as man becomes like his God, (witness Hindu idolaters whose cruelty is just the reflection of the cruelty of their gods,) so these gods of the heathen being "soulless, the worshippers become soulless themselves" (Tholuck). Andrew A. Bonar.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. A taunting question, to which we can give many satisfactory replies.
Verse 2. Why do they say so? Why doth God permit them to say so? Matthew Henry.
- The inquiry of heathens: Psalms 115:2 .
- Of ignorance. They see a temple but no god.
- Of reproach to the people of God when their God has forsaken them for a time: "While they say daily unto me, where," etc.
- The reply to their inquiry: Psalms 115:3 . Do you ask where is our God? Ask rather where he is not? Do you ask what he has done? "He has done whatsoever he hath pleased." G. R.