Weds 6th May - Psalm 50
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.
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,
fulfil your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honour 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 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 honour me,
and to the blameless I will show my salvation.’
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The title of this Psalm is ‘A Psalm of Asaph’. Asaph was one of David’s three Levite choir leaders (2 Chronicles 16:4-7, 37). There are 11 other Psalms attributed to him or his descendants (Psalms 73-83).
These Psalms of Asaph have a recurring theme – the rule of God over His people and the nations.
This Psalm starts with a clear recognition of who God is. Only in Joshua 22:22 do we get the same sequence of names as in v.1
- The Mighty One (El Shaddai)
- God (El Elohim) – the true God of all
- The LORD (Yahweh) – the covenant LORD of His people
There are four other names for God in this Psalm.
- Our God – a relational God
- A God of justice
- The Most High (El Elyon)
- A God of salvation
God summons His people to account.
- His glory is seen as He shines from Zion, the mountain where His house is.
- His holiness is seen as the fire of judgment burns.
- His people are the ones to be judged.
This Psalm does not make easy or pleasant reading but God wants to challenge us about our relationship with Him (vs.7-15) and our behaviour towards others (vs.16-21).
The Psalmist takes us back to the Ten Commandments given by God to His people on Mount Sinai.
The first four refer to our relationship with God. (Exodus 20:1-7)
Sacrifices were very much part of restoring relationships with God and God made it clear through Moses what these sacrifices were and how they were to be offered.
But, in the end, these sacrifices were becoming a formal ritual and God was not being honoured and glorified.
God doesn’t need these ritual sacrifices – their formality became more important than the relationship – cf. Psalm 51:16
The danger for us today is that we bring to God a formal religion when what God longs for is…
- Thank offerings of genuine praise and worship (v.14a)
- True devotion and commitment – fulfilling our promises (v.14b)
- Total dependence on Him (v.15a)
- And God will be honoured and He will answer our heart-cry (v.15b)
My faith is not a religion to be endured but a relationship to be enjoyed.
This leads to our relationship with others, linking in with the last six Commandments.
If we bring this up to date, the Psalmist is addressing the hypocrisy in the church.
He refers to those who recite God’s Word, who speak positively about God’s covenant … BUT…
- who hate God’s instruction
- who ignore His words
- who behave contrary to His teachings
- in stealing
- in adultery
- in family relationships
“I can no longer remain silent.”
There is the judgment of God on such people. (v.22)
But there is the mercy of God for those who are genuine in their faith, who honour God for who He is and who respond to Him in such a way that He can show His great salvation in their lives. (v.23)
O God, help me to honour you, to bring you genuine praise and to live in dependence on you.
Forgive me when religion gets in the way of my relationship with you.
Please help me to be genuine in my faith in you and help me to bring glory to you in my life. Amen
(The Diocese of Chichester has setup a new free phone-line to provide a listening ear. Click this link for more details)
Thursday 7th May - Psalm 51
Friday 8th May - Psalm 52
Saturday 9th May - Psalm 53
Sunday 10th May - Psalm 54
Monday 11th May - Psalm 55
Tuesday 12th May - Psalm 56