Israel Summoned to be Judged
Israel Summoned to be Judged
Psalm 50. The preceding Psalms were written by the sons of Korah, but now we get a Psalm of Asaph. Asaph was a singer and leader of the temple choir in the time of David, along with Heman and Ethan (1 Chron. 15:19), and he was also a prophet or “seer” (2 Chron. 29:30). Asaph the son of Berechiah was a descendant of Levi through Gershom. His ancestors were also singers in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:41; 3:10; Neh. 7:44). Asaph wrote at least twelve Psalms (Psa. 50; 73–83). As with the change of writer, so we have a change of topic. This Psalm and the one that follow are like a section all on their own, dealing with the issue of Israel’s sin and repentance. In Psalm 50 we have God summoning Israel before Him to be judged.
A Psalm. Of Asaph.
1 GOD, Elohim-Jehovah, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth.
vv.1-2 The Majesty of God. God speaks in is majesty out of Zion; addressing the whole earth “from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof”. God is seen as shining out of Zion, the “perfection of beauty” being a wonderful description of God’s majesty. The unique combination of the historical names of God is given; Elohim-Jehovah. In vv.1-2 we have the theme of the Psalm, and vv.3-23 gives us how this will be accomplished.
3 Our God will come, and will not keep silence: fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
4 He will call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 Gather unto me my godly ones, [‘chasidim’, or holy ones] those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice!
6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God executeth judgment himself. Selah.
vv.3-6 Israel Summoned before God. All of Israel is summoned before God, whose judgment is pictured as a devouring fire, and as a raging tempest. God will judge His people Israel, but He will privately draw out the “holy ones”, i.e. the faithful remnant, from among them, who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. This refers to those of Israel who have laid hold of the sacrifice of Christ, when they look upon Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10). Morally, this is true across all dispensations. The only thing that separates the saints from the wicked is the sacrifice of Christ. God Himself will execute judgment on the wicked of Israel. Thus the wicked are purged from among the godly (Ezek. 20:34-38). Nevertheless, the Lord is not calling the saints together to rejoice at this time. Rather, it is a solemn admonition that they need to hear, although for their blessing.
7 Hear, my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify unto thee: I am God, thy God.
8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt-offerings, continually before me;
9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy folds:
10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle upon a thousand hills;
11 I know all the fowl of the mountains, and the roaming creatures of the field are mine:
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
13 Should I eat the flesh of bulls, and drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer unto God thanksgiving [or, ‘confession’], and “perform thy vows unto the Most High;” [quoted Matt. 5;33]
15 And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
vv.7-15 The Heart of the Matter. God tells Israel that He is “thy God” (‘Ammi’), the reversing the the sentence in Hosea 1:9; “Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God”. God speaks to Israel and tells them the heart of the matter, the issue that He has with them. They had a mistaken idea about God, drawn from their Old Testament sacrifices and burnt offerings. They thought that He was like them; hungry for food, therefore they must offer their animals to Him. But God is not a mere man; every beast of the forest belongs to Him, “the cattle upon a thousand hills” are His. If God were hungry, He would not turn to man to fill that need, rather He would take it for Himself. The world belongs to God, and its fullness is His. In v.13 it is a rhetorical question; “Should I eat the flesh of bulls, and drink the blood of goats?” What God is hungry for, so to speak, is a sacrifice of thanksgiving and the paying of vows to the Most High God (“El-Elyon”, a Millennial name). Some translations render that “sacrifice to God confession”. The confession is what follows in Psalm 51! Then Israel can turn to God as a deliverer in the day of trouble (v.15).
16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth,
17 Seeing thou hast hated correction and hast cast my words behind thee?
18 When thou sawest a thief, thou didst take pleasure in him, and thy portion was with adulterers;
19 Thou lettest thy mouth loose to evil, and “thy tongue frameth deceit;” [quoted Rom. 3:13]
20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother, thou revilest thine own mother’s son:
21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
vv.7-21 The Heart of the Wicked. God now addresses the wicked. He states that they have no part in connection with His statutes and His covenant. The reason is that they hate correction and they despise His word. In vv.18-20, God exposes the heart of the wicked that it is fully turned against God and toward evil. Whether it be theft, adultery, evil speaking, deceit, slander, or railing, this is the intent of the heart of the wicked. The wicked also misjudged God, considering that God was like themselves, because He kept silence at first. But now God speaks, and He reproves the wicked, and sets right this misunderstanding before their eyes.
22 Now consider this, ye that forget +God, lest I tear in pieces, and there be no deliverer.
23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his way will I shew the salvation of God.
vv.22-23 Conclusion. In conclusion we have a word first to the wicked and then to the righteous. Those who forget God will be torn in pieces, and there will be no one to save them. But those who prays offer praise (acceptable sacrifice), and follow the word of God, will be shown the salvation of God.