Psalm 50

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 13, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Often, we think of the psalms as being lamenting (sometimes even whining and complaining) or full of praise for God. But there is another type of psalm as well: one of prophecy of God's judgment, as is the case with Psalm 50.

The psalm starts out in verses 1-6 describing the righteous judgment of God. We know it is God Himself who is providing the prophecy in this psalm. Where we see in English, “The Mighty One, God, the Lord” at the beginning of verse 1, the Hebrew text is actually 3 names for God all in a row: El, Elohim, Adonai (YHWH). There is no question who is speaking here!

Verse 3 states, “Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.” Verse 6 ends this section with, “And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” While God is a God of love, He also must deliver justice to His people when it’s needed. When God’s people disobey Him, no matter what the context is, consequences of some sort must follow. God shows us His love by always being just. God does not tolerate anything that goes against the rules He has set for His people.

The next section of this psalm, verses 7-15, provides a more specific warning to God’s people: “Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God” (verse 7). Again, we see the name of God repeated here with extra emphasis in the Hebrew text, so Israel knows who is speaking to them.

This section describes how God does not really need the sacrifices and offerings He has commanded of them. It’s not that God needs Israel to kill that animal in order to feed Him or something; what He truly wants is their obedience to Him, which they show by doing what He commands of them. What made their sacrifices and offerings significant was the attitude of their hearts: “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (verses 14-15).

This applies to us today as well. We are no longer commanded to sacrifice animals to God, since Jesus’ sacrifice took care of that once and for all, but God still desires that our hearts have the right attitude toward Him. We should be thankful for everything that He has given us, and we show that by doing our best to do what God wants us to do in our lives. When we humble ourselves and call upon Him rather than relying on our own strength, we have the right attitude and will receive God’s benefits in our lives. He will deliver us from the struggles we have in this life (in His way and in His timing) when we honor Him with our lives.

Next, the psalm moves on to warn those who are “wicked,” which means those who don’t follow God, in verses 16-21. We see that these people are the ones who may give lip service to God’s laws but don’t actually follow them (verses 16-17) and who sin without regard to what God desires (verses 18-20).

Verse 21 says, “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.” Some people may think that just because they don’t have immediate negative consequences to their sin or get directly called out by God for it right away, that He’s ok with their actions. This is clearly not the case here. God sometimes waits to see if people will repent before calling them out and laying down the law.

Verses 22-23 wrap up the psalm with going back to God’s judgment, which is always righteous: “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you: Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.” God is reminding His people that this is still just a warning for them, but they really need to change their ways or they will experience His judgment. He is still a God of grace! He reminds Israel (and us) again to live out a right attitude toward Him and we will be saved from His judgment.

Do the warnings of this psalm apply to your life? What is your attitude like? What in your life do you need to repent from, to change your ways and renew your attitude to one that honors God? God is a God of grace and second chances, but we need to recognize that He is also a God of justice who sometimes needs to punish His people to help us learn what is right.

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