A PSALM OF ASAPH.
1 The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Read more of Psalm 50
“Surely it was the day of mine espousals”
– George Whitefield, writing on the day of his conversion.
This Psalm is a summons to appear as a witness in court. The court is the courtroom of the Universe. The issue that is to be decided is a family dispute, you could almost say it is between a bride and groom. “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me.” (v. 5)
The term, “The Mighty One, God, The Lord” only appears twice in all the scriptures and both times it is a summons to witness. (Josh 22; Psalm 50).
The beautiful groom beckons us, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.”
However we have a tremendous problem.
In this relationship we want to bring to the table more than our partner is brining to the table. Yahweh knows full well this is silly. “The cattle on a thousand hills are mine” (v. 10). You actually can’t give to me what is already mine.
The community of faith at the writing of this Psalms was very keen to worship God, not unlike you and I. Much like them we offer God sacrifices that are often unnecessary. What the Psalmist begs us do is, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,” (v.14).
The only sacrifice that the Lord requires is his people is that that they fulfill their covenant vow to Him.
This tremendous problem scares us. The idea that God would bring judgment seems like a scary concept. However, it soon appears that the judgment scene is not for passing sentence but for bringing truth to light and sinners to repentance.
This magnificent husband does not come to bring judgment, but to bear judgment. “You thought that I was one like yourself” (v.21). Often the idea of judgment scares us because we think God is like us. Voltaire jokingly said, “God made man in his image, and we returned the favour.” But this Loyal Love, this Perfect Husband says to his people “I will deliver you” (v.15), “I will show you salvation” (v.23). He is so unlike us that his perfection of beauty is Terrible Beauty.
Faith is this magnificent wedding ring by which we are espoused to Christ. Martin Luther puts it this way:
“Christ and the Soul are one flesh…[I]t follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as his.”
On the Cross Christ says to us, “All that I have is yours.”
Let us respond to The Lover’s gracious overtures…