WARNING TO THE RELIGIOUS
Lord of time, help me to remember when all is said and done, you are from the beginning and you will see me through to the end.
Read PSALM 50
A psalm of Asaph.
1 The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
2 From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
4 He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.[a][b]
7 “Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, your God.
8 I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
9 I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
16 But to the wicked person, God says:
“What right have you to recite my laws
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 You hate my instruction
and cast my words behind you.
18 When you see a thief, you join with him;
you throw in your lot with adulterers.
19 You use your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue to deceit.
20 You sit and testify against your brother
and slander your own mother’s son.
21 When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactly[c] like you.
But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.
22 “Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
23 Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me,
and to the blameless[d] I will show my salvation.”
- Psalm 50:6 With a different word division of the Hebrew; Masoretic Text for God himself is judge
- Psalm 50:6 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
- Psalm 50:21 Or thought the ‘I am’ was
- Psalm 50:23 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; the meaning of the Masoretic Text for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectPause to remember that you are coming before ‘The Mighty One, God, the Lord’ (Psalm 50:1).
Throughout the Bible we see a tendency for a relationship with God to degenerate into empty religious actions and legalistic language. The prophets railed against it, Jesus spoke against it (e.g., Matthew 6:16) and Paul opposed it. This psalm calls God’s people into a living relationship.
The picture here is of a courtroom where the holy God summons the whole of creation to observe as charges are leveled against the people of God. The Hebrew word translated ‘consecrated people’ in verse 5 means ‘the recipients of my faithful love’* or ‘those who have found grace in my sight’.** The covenant relationship God’s people have with him is based on his initiative (see Deuteronomy 7:6), not earned by our actions.
Sacrifices could easily become a means of trying to earn God’s favor, but we cannot provide for God’s needs (vs 7–13). He wants a loving relationship where sacrifices are a demonstration of thanks to God, where his people call to him and he saves them. How do Christians try to win God’s favor by religious observance?
The second charge God levels against his people is that they know and recite his laws, but do not take the action they demand (vs 16–21). The apostle James says God’s Word is like a mirror, showing the things that need attention (James 1:22–25).
If God has shown you any faults in the ‘mirror’ of Psalm 50, pray for his help in correcting them.
Lord, I am a mixture: compromised but committed, confused but faithful, anxious but devoted to you. Use me in spite of myself.
*JA Motyer, Psalms by the Day, Christian Focus, 2016, p131
**Amplified Bible, Classic Edition, Zondervan, 1965
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