The Israelites were to be a unique people. God's first two commandments make that entirely clear: "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God." (Exodus 20:3-5)
The nations surrounding Israel and the people living among them, from the tribes God commanded to be destroyed, were all idolaters. They had a multitude of idols representing the numerous gods they worshiped. Worshiping only one God and having no material object representing Him made the Israelites a peculiar people to their neighbors.
Psalm 115:1 proclaims the uniqueness of the God of Israel and His people. The writer understood the value God places on His name and glory. In Isaiah 42:8 the LORD says, "I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols." The author of this Psalm proclaims the LORD alone is worthy of receiving glory because of His holy nature.
So verse two appears to be an apt question for the neighbors to ask; "Where is their God?" They did not doubt their gods because they had an idol representing each one they worshiped. Since the Israelites had no visible, physical image how could they know their God, much less where He was?
The answer to the question in verse three goes far beyond the mere location of the God of Israel. The author affirms the sovereignty of Israel's God by adding "He does as he pleases." Job 42:2 says the same thing, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."
The comparison between a sovereign God and idols made with human hands is laughable. The maker of the various idols provided physical attributes but of what value were they? An idol can do nothing on its own; where it is placed, it stays. How can you compare that to the God of heaven who does all that He wants?
Then the author makes the brutally honest observation that those who make and trust idols become like their creation. How common is it for people to worship a god of their own making? How easy is it to put your trust in your own desire or idea? Do you think that is part of the reason people become like the gods they make and trust? Isn't it man's nature to worship something very much like himself?
Scripture uses many different passages to describe this human tendency:
"What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!" (Habakkuk 2:18)
"Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless." (1 Samuel 12:21 NIV)
"My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13)
Sovereign LORD God, You have given us sufficient evidence of Your existence. History has shown nothing can thwart Your purpose. Your plan for salvation alone should be proof enough. Forgive me for placing gods of my own making before You. I desire to glorify no other. You alone will I worship.