17The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.
18But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
(Psalm 115:16-18, King James Version)
Dead or Alive?
This seemed to be a rather unusual way to end a Psalm. In the second to last verse, the psalmist makes a distinction between being dead or alive.
The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.The Psalmist takes all of life and puts it into one of two categories: Those who bless or praise the Lord, and those who do not. If we summarized our entire life from its beginning until today, in which category would we fall?
On one level, everyone brings praise and glory to the Lord--even those who hate God bring glory to His name, when all is said and done. However, I think the Psalmist is making a distinction between those whose goal it is to bring glory to God versus those who have no such desire. In making this distinction, the Psalmsist calls those whose goal it is to glorify God to be among the living. Those who live their lives for their own glory are called the dead.
In other words, there is nothing more important in this life than to seek to bring glory and honor to God. This, then, considers the heart attitude of each person. There are many who live upright lives, go to church every Sunday, and have a squeaky clean reputation, but would still be categorized by God as being among the dead. For God looks upon their heart and asks the question, Why? Why do they determine to live such upright lives? Is it because they love God so much that they desire to honor and glorify Him in all they do, or is it because they want people to think well of them?
All of my life I have heard the elderly speak of the shortness of life, but until I reached my sixth decade, I did not understand what they meant. I know life moves quickly, but it always seemed to stretch out before me. However, reaching the 60's brought with it a whole new perspective. The past--as short as it was--is there behind me, but what has happened to the future? It is gone! Lifetime warranties no longer have to be very long, and my goals for the future have seemed to dissipate.
Suddenly, we look upon our lives and ask, "What have I done for the Lord? How has my life made a difference in advancing the kingdom of God?" As believers we begin to understand a whole new perspective on serving the Lord. As we look back upon our lives we realize how unimportant most of our worldly ambitions were. As we look to life after death, what will we carry with us?
I think perhaps the writer of this Psalm was in his later years. Looking back on his life his writing begs the question, What have I accomplished in my short years that is of lasting, eternal value? Nothing else matters!
Thinking upon Psalm 115, let us take an internal observation and ask ourselves which category we belong in. Are we dead or alive?
God Bless You,