Psalm 97:7 says, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!”
RM: Why does the Psalmist here tell the “gods” to worship God? Isn’t there only one God? Isn’t the Bible a monotheistic religion? What does he mean by gods? The Psalmist seems to be slightly ambiguous, in not clarifying whether he’s referring to angelic beings in whom there shines forth some small portion of divinity and who all rightly worship God even though they are themselves so majestic and powerful, or whether he’s referring to the fictitious false gods which we form in our hearts. It is as if he’s saying, whatever objects and hopes that we adore or hold as a god must quit their place and renounce their claims, that God alone may be exalted.
The author is drawing our minds to imagine the exalted worship which all the powerful angelic beings in heaven are giving directly and exclusively to God, as a way to highlight the point that only God deserves to be worshipped. This point is made right after it gives us a huge challenge, of turning anyway from our idols and not giving in to our tendency which is to find our happiness in things other than God.
After the fall of Adam, humanity’s basic orientation changed from naturally desiring God as preeminent to instead have the tendency to satisfy our deepest longings, not with the personal fellowship, love, and adoration of our Creator, but instead with ANY picture of the good life from this world we tend to think will give us the deep longing and satisfaction for which our souls are longing.
In my experience, both with myself and with others, I have come to realize that for us to “make our boast in worthless idols,” as this verse puts it, is the most natural and constant impulse of the human soul, whether we be believer or nonbeliever. Although as believers, by the aid of the Holy Spirit giving us the eyes to see it, we can now see this tendency of ours in action, it is nevertheless pulling us into it at all times, even in the believer.
Because of the fall, we are now so bent that we would prefer to find happiness from any situation that we believe can give us the blessings of this world, rather than from merely knowing and delighting ourselves in the personal presence of God himself.
This is why we are supposed to fight our souls regularly to keep letting go of these specific desires which we convince ourselves we desperately need, which are different for different people. Each person’s idol is specifically any reigning drive that happens to take hold in each person’s heart at any given moment. And God calls us regularly, daily, to kill these idols, and to replace our idol of the moment with the alternative belief, that to have only God as our possession, right now, would be the most satisfying of all possessions....even practically speaking, right now in this moment.
This is what this verse means and what our God is calling all human creatures to practice and fight in themselves, moment by moment in our lives, that we might keep turning away from the specific things to which our hearts keep wanting to turn, and in which we keep placing our trust.
We thank God for his grace, who relentlessly keeps forgiving us and letting us come back to him, “free of charge,” because of the finished work of Christ on our behalf.
Let’s all take the time, in prayer, to do this today, and every day. Amen.
Pastor Rusty Mosley