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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 50: Judgment on Unrighteous Religious Rituals


A psalm of Asaph.


[Preliminary Comments: A psalm that focuses on the realities behind offering sacrifices. The Lord comes to judge [v.1-4] His covenant people Israel [v.5,6]. It's not so much the sacrifices they bring [v.7,8] because He does, after all, own everything anyway [v.9-13] and for the righteous they are the way He has laid down in the Law to satisfy their consciences when they want to approach Him [v.14,15] and are expressions of the covenant between them. The point is that those who offer sacrifices but still continue their wickedness [v.16-20] will find they are subject to His judgment. The fact that He has remained silent so far [v.21] should not reassure them for He will judge the guilty [v.22] and bless the innocent [v.23]. There is coming an accounting!]



v.1-4 God Almighty comes to judge His people


v.1  The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
v.2  From Zion, perfect in beauty,
    God shines forth.
v.3  Our God comes
    and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
    and around him a tempest rages.
v.4  He summons the heavens above,
    and the earth, that he may judge his people:

v.5,6 The Righteous Judge calls His covenant people


v.5  “Gather to me this consecrated people,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
v.6  And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    for he is a God of justice.


v.7,8 It's not about their sacrifices as such that He is concerned


v.7  “Listen, my people, and I will speak;
    I will testify against you, Israel:
    I am God, your God.
v.8  I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.

v.9-13 After all He owns everything so the sacrifices as such are meaningless


v.9  I have no need of a bull from your stall
    or of goats from your pens,
v.10  for every animal of the forest is mine,
    and the cattle on a thousand hills.
v.11  I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are mine.
v.12  If I were hungry I would not tell you,
    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
v.13  Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?


v.14,15 Nevertheless He has established the sacrificial system for them to honour Him


v.14  “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
    fulfill your vows to the Most High,
v.15  and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”


v.16-20 But [implied] sacrifices are meaningless rituals for the wicked


v.16  But to the wicked person, God says:

“What right have you to recite my laws
    or take my covenant on your lips?
v.17  You hate my instruction
    and cast my words behind you.
v.18  When you see a thief, you join with him;
    you throw in your lot with adulterers.
v.19  You use your mouth for evil
    and harness your tongue to deceit.
v.20  You sit and testify against your brother
    and slander your own mother's son.

v.21-23 His silence has not been approval, He comes to judge and separate out


v.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.

v.22  “Consider this, you who forget God,
    or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you:
v.23  Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me,
    and to the blameless I will show my salvation.”



[Additional Thoughts: Very often the psalms shed light on various aspects of life and this one shines the spotlight on those who would seek to appear righteous by carrying out religious ritual and yet continue in their various forms of wickedness. Their time of accounting is coming!]



Continue to Psa 51