Psalm 115: Not To Us

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 115. The first verse, not included in today’s passage, is perhaps the most familiar:

Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your mercy and faithfulness.

This verse sets the tone for the whole psalm by establishing that it is only in humility that we will experience God’s faithful mercy.


The psalm sections offered today show how hard it is to keep humble attention on God in a world full of idols. While the psalmist mocked these idolatrous gods and their worshippers, his descriptions indicate the significant space they occupy in his own imagination.

There are lots of distracting “gods” in our world too. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes difficult to find the real God because our culture cloaks God in its own distorting devices. 

For example, we encounter ideologies which promote a “god” who:

  • loves America more than other nations
  • loves white people more than black and brown people
  • loves war as long as we are the victors
  • loves my prosperity over other people’s justice
  • tolerates, or even blesses, violence for the sake of superiority
  • isolates, stereotypes, and discriminates over who deserves blessings

Some of these idolatries work to convince us that we are more important to God if we are white, rich, male, heterosexual, healthy, armed, not too old, and American – because these deifications paint their “god” with those strokes.

The more we match up with this “god” – the molten image of a greedy, elitist, militaristic culture – the more we tend to take glory to ourselves. And the more others might legitimately question, “Where is their God?”.

This becomes all the more disorienting when influencers who benefit from such misguided idolatry and fundamentalism use them to promote themselves and their personal and political agendas.


Psalm 115 says, “Stop that!”.


Our Gospel shows us what God is really like — Jesus, who:

  • sought out those suffering
  • loved the poor and abandoned
  • was moved with pity for others’ pain
  • taught, proclaimed and healed in the name of God’s Mercy

Living in the light of this merciful God both humbles and exalts us so that we may wholeheartedly proclaim by our lives:

Not to us, LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory

because of your mercy and faithfulness.

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis ; 
sed nomini tuo da gloriam,
super misericordia tua et veritate tua.


Poetry: Non Nobis Domine! – Rudyard Kipling
(Written for “The Pageant of Parliament,” 1934)

NON nobis Domine!—
    Not unto us, O Lord!
The Praise or Glory be
    Of any deed or word;
For in Thy Judgment lies
    To crown or bring to nought
All knowledge or device
    That Man has reached or wrought.
And we confess our blame—
    How all too high we hold
That noise which men call Fame,
    That dross which men call Gold.
For these we undergo
    Our hot and godless days,
But in our hearts we know
    Not unto us the Praise.
O Power by Whom we live—
    Creator, Judge, and Friend,
Upholdingly forgive
    Nor fail us at the end:
But grant us well to see
    In all our piteous ways—
Non nobis Domine!—
    Not unto us the Praise

Music: Non Nobis Domine

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