Psalm 50: God speaks.
God Himself is Judge
A Psalm of Asaph.
(1)The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
(2)Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
(3)Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
(4)He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
(5)"Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!"
(6)The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!
(7)"Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God.
(8)Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
(9)I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.
(10)For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.
(11)I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
(12)"If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.
(13)Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
(14)Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,
(15)and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glory me."
(16)But to the wicked God says: "What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?
(17)For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
(18)If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.
(19)"You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
(20)You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son.
(21)These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
(22)"Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
(23)The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!"
Some translations title this particular Psalm: God as Judge or God the Judge of the Righteous and the Wicked.
Asaph, along with Heman and Ethan, were chosen from the Levites as musicians and worship leaders.
David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his relatives, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their relatives the Merarites, Ethan son of Kushaiah
1 Chronicles 15:16-17
That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the LORD in this manner: Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
1 Chronicles 16:7-8
King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed down and worshiped.
2 Chronicles 29:30
Asaph, "the seer" or prophet, authored or produced or performed twelve Psalms in the Psalter. Twelve Psalms bear his name.
"It matters little to us whether he wrote or sang, for poet and musician are near akin, and if one composes words and another sets them to music, they rejoice together before the Lord."
--Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
The Mighty One and His Judgment
The LORD, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets. From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance. Our God approaches, and he is not silent. Fire devours everything in his way, and a great storm rages around him. He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people. "Bring my faithful people to me--those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices." Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.
Psalm 50:1-6 NLT
The LORD, the Mighty One, is God! What a way to start this song. Hebrew writers often lumped many names together for God, maybe as a way to add extra reverence, as in shouts of praise!
The Mighty One, God, Jehovah--El, Elohiym, Yahweh
"This impressive array of titles, includes two general names for God, and the special covenant name, Jehovah."
--James Burton Coffman, pastor, 1905-2006
Verse one is so beautiful and so powerful. Our mighty covenant God has spoken, and He has called all of His people together from one side of the world to the other. No matter color or culture or country, God has called us all together as one body.
And when God approaches His children...He is not silent!
This beautiful picture is clearly a day to come when Jesus returns and God comes forth to judge the earth and all that is in it.
"This Psalm is a Psalm of instruction. It tells of the coming of Christ and the day of judgment, in which God will call men to account; and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of judgment."
--Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29
God will call His children forth first; yes, someday we will stand before the throne of judgment. We will answer for our deeds on earth, not for our salvation, but for the rewards of perseverance in this life.
"Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen.
"I am the Alpha and Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-8
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.
So, if one day, we will stand before this awesome throne of God--the Mighty One, Jehovah--then let's run the race. Let's be faithful; let's persevere...
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the wind that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
"He has been silent long in patience, but soon he will speak with power."
Selah...Interlude. Pause and reflect on the power and faithfulness of God.
"O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory."
Psalm 50:7-15 NLT
"To obey is better than sacrifice, and to love God and our neighbor better than all burnt offerings. We are here warned not to rest in these performances. And let us beware of resting in any form. God demands the heart, and how can human inventions please him, when repentance, faith, and holiness are neglected?"
Pastor David Guzik, www.enduringword.com, titles this section of Psalm 50, Rebuking their Ritualism.
God is not rebuking the sacrifices of His people if they come from the heart and with purpose. Empty sacrifice becomes ritualistic, and God knows our hearts. He wants our love and devotion and obedience first. That's why Jesus knew the Pharisees so well. On the outside, they looked good. They were the religious leaders of the people; looked up to and followed. Jesus exposed them for what they were (Matthew 12:22-37; 23).
"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
Some commentators see this section as a prophecy of the end of animal sacrifice. It is not that God is saying the Israelites are doing the sacrificing wrong, after all, Israel had hundreds of years of practice at this. But He is saying the sacrifice is not acceptable. Is this God speaking of His New Covenant?
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. Psalm 50:14-15 NLT
Maybe, but the most important thing to remember is that God sees our hearts. He wants our hearts.
But God says to the wicked: "Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant? For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash. When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers. Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies. You sit around and slander your brother--your own mother's son. while you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn't care. But no I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against. you. Psalm 50:16-21 NLT
God now speaks to the evil present. He calls out those who claim a faith in God, but do not/have never held it within their hearts. These folks can "recite His decrees" and pretend to "obey His covenant," all while speaking wickedness and committing evil acts (He calls out specific broken commandments even; adultery, stealing, slander).
Our God is patient, so patient. But He will act upon evil.
So we must remain faithful; be the sheep among goats, the believing among unbelievers, His children living amongst the children of the world...
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
2 Peter 3:8-10
This amazing Psalm, written in God's own voice, calls us to remember which side we are on. Are we sheep or are we goats? Are we of this world or are we set apart?
Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God."
Psalm 50:22-23 NLT
Father in heaven, you are good and faithful and loving and kind. But you are also a consuming fire and you will be known to all; you will claim what is yours. Father, may we be ready for that day. Help us to stand strong against the lies of this world. We choose you, today and every day. We choose to give you our hearts and our lives; we sacrifice in thanksgiving to you. Thank you for your love, for your Word, and for our salvation. Amen.