Psa 50:1 A psalm of Asaph. The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
This is a psalm, not of praise or or prayer, but of instruction, reproof and correction.
M. Henry says that ‘this psalm is intended,
- As a proof to the carnal Jews, both those that rested in the external performances of their religion, and were remiss in the more excellent duties of prayer and praise, and those that expounded the law to others, but lived wicked lives themselves.
- As a prediction of the abolishing of the ceremonial law, and of the introducing of a spiritual way of worship in and by the kingdom of the Messiah, #Jn 4:23,24.
- As a representation of the day of judgment, in which God will call men to an account concerning their observance of those things which they have thus been taught; men shall be judged “according to what is written in the books;”‘
‘In the grandeur and solemnity of a divine judgment, God is introduced as instructing men in the nature of true worship, exposing hypocrisy, warning the wicked, and encouraging the pious.’ (JFB)
The court is called, v1; the Judge takes his seat, v2f; the parties are summoned, v4f; judgement begins, v6.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets – That is, from the farthest east to the farthest west. Cf. Isa. 45:6.
Psa 50:2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Psa 50:3 Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.
Psa 50:4 He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people:
He summons the heavens above, and the earth – as witnesses. See Deut 4:26 30:19 Isa 1:2.
Psa 50:5 “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
“Who made a covenant” – lit. ‘cut a covenant’; alluding to the way in which covenants were ratified by dividing the sacrificial victim, the two parties then passing between the divided portions. Cf. Gen 15:10, 18.
Psa 50:6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah
The inhabitants of heaven well know God’s righteous character.
Psa 50:7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God.
“I am God, your God” – Two reasons for worshiping God: they are twice his, his by creation and his by covenant.
Psa 50:8 I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
Vv. 8-15 – However scrupulous their sacrifices may have been, they were offered in the spirit of providing God with something that he lacked, as though they were doing him a favour.
Psa 50:9 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,
Psa 50:10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
Psa 50:11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
On God’s aseity, see Acts 17:25.
Psa 50:13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
‘God is pleased with a sacrifice that comes from true love and obedience. God’s perfect moral nature demands that the penalty for sin be death. Under the old covenant, a person could offer an animal to God as a substitute for himself, symbolizing the person’s faith in the merciful, forgiving God. But, the people were offering sacrifices as part of their worship ritual and forgetting their significance! The very act of sacrifice showed that they had once agreed to follow God wholeheartedly. But at this time their hearts were not in it, so their sacrifices were not pleasing to God, and thus were worthless. We may fall into the same pattern when we participate in religious activities, tithe, or attend church out of habit or conformity rather than out of heartfelt love and obedience. God wants righteousness, not empty ritual.’ (HBA)
Psa 50:14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,
Psa 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Psa 50:16 But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips?
The wicked are unworthy even to utter the words of Gods law. Their hypocrisy is exposed by illustrations from sins against the seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments.
Psa 50:17 You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.
Psa 50:18 When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers.
Psa 50:19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.
Psa 50:20 You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son.
Psa 50:21 These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.
These things you have done and I kept silent – there was no speedy judgement upon the sinner; there was no thunder of threatening, and no bolt of punishment. But God’s silence should not be interpreted as ignorance, still less of benign approval. God is present at every moment, and observes every action. He never slumbers. He may seem to wink at things, but he never closes his eyes. God cannot be deceived, as we can.
You thought I was altogether like you – God has been patient, and the inference drawn is that he is like us: fickle, fallible, inconsistent, indulgent. There is in the unregenerate a practical atheism: they may acknowledge God, but they deny his power, his presence and his justice, and reduce him to their own proportions. We do this when we plead that our sins are little, and not worth taking notice of; we do it when we clamber onto God’s throne and make ourselves the sole arbiters of truth and goodness. This attitude began with Adam, who would not depend on the will of God as revealed to him, but made himself like God.
‘Today, vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are-weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible! Our personal life is a finite thing: it is limited in every direction, in space, in time, in knowledge, in power. But God is not so limited. He is eternal, infinite and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours. Like us, he is personal; but unlike us, he is great. In all its constant stress on the reality of God’s personal concern for his people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience and yearning compassion that he shows toward them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of his majesty and his unlimited dominion over all his creatures.’ (Packer, Knowing God)
Accuse you to your face – AV ‘set them in order before thine eyes’: a military picture, of sins paraded in rank and file, or a forensic picture, of sins listed as so many indictments. The sins of the wicked seem to be scattered, buried, forgotten, but they will rise up against them as an army. How can we contend against such a host as this: ‘here a regiment of oaths, there a regiment of lies, there a third of ralse dealings, here a troop of filthy actions, and there a legion of unclean or profane thoughts, all at one fighting against thy life and everlasting peace’ (Joseph Caryl).
I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face – God will leave the seat of mercy for his throne of judgement, and then he will demonstrate his inflexible opposition to all sin and wickedness.
Psa 50:22 “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue:
“You who forget God” – To forget God is not necessarily to fail to call him to mind, but to be neglectful of his true character.
Psa 50:23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”