(Reposted here in full due to brevity; original post.)
This and the next three psalms were traditionally sung after the Passover meal. However, we also know such usage came somewhat later in the life of the nation. This hymn in particular was originally composed for general worship. It’s laid out in responsive style: The leader would chant one line, the congregation would respond with the second. This back and forth went for the entire song.
The first verse establishes the principle that we exist for our Creator’s glory, and it is always in our best interest to seek His glory alone. Instead of glory, we want for ourselves His mercy and to know Him better. The heathens who don’t know Him might well ask where He is, because they see only with the eyes in their heads, not with the eyes of their hearts. A real God would not be restricted to a material form, but resides in the Spirit Realm. Nothing on this earth can resist His hand because He made everything.
Sure, the heathens can see their gods, because the are but mere idols. The Covenant forbade portraying God as having a physical form, even in visual symbols, because you dare not confine God to any particular notion of His Person or character. But their idols aren’t mere symbols; that’s all the god they have, formed by their own hands from precious materials. They seem to have all the same features as any man, except none of their parts work. It would appear those deities match all the features of the dead. The dedication to these gods consumes wealth, but the gods return nothing because they are imaginary, inanimate and dead. In some ways, so are the heathens who worship such gods.
Don’t do what the heathen do, Israel. Place your faith in Jehovah. Again and again, the echoing refrain: He is our aid and protection. Have we not seen it over and over again? He’s a real God. Can you see around you all the things He has done for us? Marvel at it! He resides in the Spirit Realm, and has given this whole universe into our hands if we simply embrace His truth.
Don’t stand in the graveyard and beg your dead ancestors to praise Him and intercede on your behalf. Worship is not for the dead, but for the living. When was the last time you heard the graves singing? But while we live, we will seek ways to make Him smile and to bring Him joy. Hallelujah!