Psalm 115:5 “The idols have mouths, but they cannot speak.” (#26)

In Psalm 115, the psalmist starts by saying that the nations question the existence and the power of God: “Where now is their God?” The psalmist replies, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” He then turns to observe the idols, the work of men’s hands, and the first attribute that he mentions is, “They have mouths, but they cannot speak.”
I thought to myself, “Why did the psalmist start here? Why did he mention first the fact of the muteness of all the idols?” Later the psalmist will talk about unseeing eyes and unhearing ears, unfeeling hands, and so on, but he starts with the unspeaking mouths. Why? He starts here because speaking is the most significant attribute of the living God. Speech is what most radically separates man from the animals and speech is what allows man to communicate with God. And the true and living God is a speaking God.
The idols have mouths, but they cannot speak. Is there one command, one idea, one thought that any idol has ever communicated to anyone? There is none, because the idols cannot speak. But the first thing that the Bible says about the living God is that He is a God who speaks, and when He speaks, He issues commands.
Genesis 1:3 – “Then God said . . .” and at the voice of God the universe came into being, but the idols of man’s hands have never said a word and have never created anything.
God has communicated to man His commandments and thus has revealed His holiness and His authority. God declares the future and then brings it to pass, but the idols have no voice to ever declare the future and have no power to bring anything to pass.
The Lord God expresses Himself in words that declare His love, His wrath, His blessings and His curses. The Lord declares with His voice that He will judge wickedness.
With His voice the Lord warns men and women of the judgment that is coming and that they must flee to the cross of Jesus Christ for rescue from the coming wrath, but the idols stand silent with no opinion on the matter. The idol cannot warn with their words and they cannot give blessing with their words, because they cannot speak. The strongest and clearest sign of the impotence of idols is their having no ability to speak. The idol is useless and dead; useless because it cannot speak, and its deadness is manifested in its utter muteness. The idol cannot threaten or command or call or summons or instruct anyone, but the Lord does all these things.
The living God of heaven has spoken long ago through prophets, declaring His glory and His holiness and issuing His commandments, but “in these last days (He) has spoken to us in [His] Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).” God has not only spoken to us through His prophets when countless times He said to them, “Thus says the Lord,” but God has now personally appeared to us and spoken to us in the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, who was manifested in human flesh (1 John 1:1-2; Phil. 2:6-8; Romans 3:21; Titus 2:11; 3:4). Here is the Word of God robed in human flesh (John 1:1-14), speaking to us the very words of God. God is a speaking God and He has spoken His final word of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
And still the silver and gold idols stand mute, having mouths, they still cannot speak. The living God constantly speaks, declaring His glory both by what He has made (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-20) and much more powerfully by what He has said, but the idols stand silent, their closed mouths mocking them by their inability to utter a sound. No thought and no threat issues from their throat, while the living God has declared His word and has written down His word and has sent His Son, the living Word.
“They have mouths, but they cannot speak.”
Application 1: Since the living God has spoken to man His creature, the first mark of wisdom is to find out what God has said. God has given us His truth in the Scriptures (John 17:17), and in the Scriptures we can find “everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).” Therefore the first thing we should do is take up the Bible and read. What does God say about this life? What does He say about death? How can we have a fruitful life? What happens when we die? What is the nature of man: is he basically good or is he bent toward evil by nature and from birth? What does it mean to be born again? Who is Jesus Christ? Aren’t there many ways to get to heaven? How can I know God personally? What is God’s plan for my guilt? Can I be forgiven for my evil deeds? What happens at the end of the world? The Bible is God’s love letter to all those who will follow Him. So the first application is to listen intently to the God who CAN speak, for He has spoken and every word that He says is important.
Application 2: The psalm declares that the idols are dead and have mouths but they cannot speak. But believers in America, the present author included, face another related danger. The danger is that it could be said of us, “They know the living God and they know His truth and they have been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4) and have been given a charge to be His witnesses in all the earth (Acts 1:8). They have this incredible privilege and this awesome mission and yet ‘They have mouths, but they will not speak.'” The danger is that, even though we have strong voices and great knowledge of God’s truth, we are often silent when we should speak. What good does it do to have been given a voice if you never speak? If you have been saved from judgment by the grace of God, why will you not open your mouth and declare God’s praise? In Romans 10:14-15 Paul asks a rhetorical question: “How will they call upon Him in whom they have not believed, and how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard, and how will they hear without a preacher?” It is incumbent upon the believer to open his mouth and proclaim the good news. God has given you a voice and you cannot stand mute like an idol. God has saved you and has given you a voice to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).”
Therefore, make it your ambition to always speak up and issue truth whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Never choose to be silent as an idol, who cannot speak and has nothing to say. If you can’t think of what to say, tell something about Jesus or the gospel. Do not be like the idols or like those who trust in them. Never let it be said of you, “He has a mouth, but he does not speak.” Never be like the idol-worshipper and be silent. We are to be Jesus’ witnesses (Acts 1:8) and that requires words.
We have mouths and we have the message of eternal life, so let us speak so that many will see and fear and trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:3). (See also 2 Corinthians 4:13)

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