This is a Psalm of instruction, not of prayer or praise but a Psalm of reproof. It teaches us that God deals with the children of this world by convincing them of their sin and foolishness in setting their hearts upon the wealth of this world. In this Psalm He deals with His people to convince them of their sin and foolishness in placing their faith in ritual services, while neglecting practical godliness. This is as sure a way to ruin as the other. God will call men to an account concerning their observance of those things which they have been taught by men. Christ instructs His worshippers to turn their rituals into prayers. God, Himself is Judge.
Call on Me We are exhorted to call on Him. Hear now the Words He has to say. Should it not be our constant habit To call on Him throughout the day. What a mercy to have liberty to do so. What wisdom to come to Him again and again The Lord invites us to lay our case before Him How foolish to go running about to men! He will deliver us. Whatever the trouble, we can in Him stand For He will Himself work out Our deliverance by His own hand. We will glorify Him What of the trouble we face in these days? We know that He will deliver us Let us offer to Him now our heartfelt praise. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Psalm 50 – God Himself is Judge
The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; e does not keep silence; before Him is a devouring fire, around Him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge! Selah “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother and slander your own mother’s son.
I will show salvation
These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as His sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders His way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
Henry says – The Psalmist instructed His people in the right way of worshipping God and maintaining their communion with Him. He directs his speech to the wicked, to hypocrites, whether they be Jews or Christian. Hypocrisy is wickedness for which God will judge.
(Ps. 50:2): The mighty God, even the Lord, has spoken—El, Elohim, Jehovah, the God of infinite power justice and mercy, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. God is the Judge, the Son of God came to judge the world, and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of judgment. All the earth is called to attend to Him. All the children of men are concerned to know the right way of worshipping God. That of in spirit and in truth. When the Kingdom of the Messiah is to be set up all will be instructed in evangelical worship, and invited to join in it (see Mal. 1:11; Acts 10:34)
Startled out of their sins
He shall cause that mystery to be published to the world by, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs (Eph. 3:5, 6). In the great day our God shall come and shall not keep silence, but make those to hear His judgment who would not listen to His law. His appearance should be very majestic and terrible: A fire shall devour before Him. The fire of His judgments shall make way for the rebukes of His Word. This in order for the awakening of the hypocritical nation of the Jews (Isa. 33:14) that they might be startled out of their sins. When His gospel kingdom was to be set up, Christ came to send fire on the earth, Luke 12:49. The Spirit was given in tongues as of fire, introduced by a rushing mighty wind, Acts 2:2, 3.
In the last judgment Christ shall come in flaming fire, 2 Thess. 1:8. See Dan. 7:9; Heb. 10:27. As on Mount Sinai He came with ten thousands of His saints, so He shall now call to the heavens from above, (Ps. 50:4). Just as Moses often called heaven and earth to witness against Israel (Deut. 4:26; 31:28; 32:21) and God by His prophets, Isa. 1:2; Mic. 6:2. The fairness of the judgment of the Great Day will be attested and applauded by heaven and earth, by saints and angels, even all the holy myriads.
The parties will be summoned. (Ps. 50:5): Gather my saints together unto Me. This may be understood as: “Let them be gathered to God through Christ. Let the few pious ones be set apart.” To them the following denunciations of wrath do not belong. Rebukes to the hypocrites ought not to be terrors to the upright. When God will reject the services of those who only offered sacrifice, He will graciously accept those who, in sacrificing, make a covenant with Him.
The saints shall judge the world
The design of the preaching of the gospel, and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom, was to gather together the children of God, John 11:52. And at the second coming of Jesus Christ all His saints shall be gathered together unto Him (2 Thess. 2:1) to be assessors with Him in the judgment. For the saints shall judge the world, 1 Cor. 6:2.
The saints have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. Only those shall be gathered to God as His saints who have, in sincerity, covenanted with Him. Those who have taken Him to be their God and given up themselves to Him to be His people. Those who have joined themselves unto the Lord. It is only by sacrifice, by Christ the great sacrifice, that we poor sinners can covenant with God so as to be accepted of Him. There must be an atonement made for the breach of the first covenant before we can be admitted again into covenant.
(Ps. 50:6): The heavens shall declare His righteousness. (Ps. 50:4): the people in heaven shall say, Hallelujah. True and righteous are His judgments, Rev. 19:1, 2. God is righteous in all the rebukes of His Word and providence. The establishment of His gospel brings in an everlasting righteousness, and through which the righteousness of God is revealed.
The heavens will declare the judgment of the Great Day. It will be universally known, and proclaimed to all the world. As the heavens declare the glory, the wisdom and power of God the Creator and Judge, (Ps. 19:1). It will be incontestable for who can deny what the heavens declare? Even sinners’ own consciences will subscribe to it for hell, as well as heaven, will be forced to acknowledge the righteousness of God.
He will be justified
God is Judge Himself and therefore He will be just. For it is impossible He should do any wrong to any of His creatures. He never did and never will. Earthly judges may judge unjustly, but when He is Judge Himself, there can be no injustice done. His decisions will be perfectly just, for against them there will be no exception, and from them there will be no appeal. He will be justified. God is Judge and He will be clear when He judges, Ps. 51:4.
God is here dealing with those who placed all their religion in the observances of rituals. (Ps. 50:7): Hear, O my people! and I will speak. When He speaks His people should give ear. We may comfortably expect that God will speak to us when we are ready to hear what He says. Even when He testifies against us in the rebukes of His Word.
God shows that He did not need their sacrifices. He has the command of all the beasts of the forest, and the cattle upon a thousand hills (Ps. 50:9, 10). He has them always under His eye and within His reach. They all wait on Him, and are all at His disposal, Ps. 104:27-29. Can we add anything to His store who owns the world and the fullness of it? Ps. 50:11, 12. God’s infinite self-sufficiency proves our utter insufficiency to add anything to Him.
He could not benefit from their sacrifices. It is as absurd to think that their sacrifices could, of themselves add any pleasure of praise to God. It is as though to imagine that an infinite Spirit could be supported by meat and drink, as our bodies are. To obey is better than sacrifice, and to love God and our neighbour better than all burnt-offerings.
It shows us what is good
God by His prophets often told them that their sacrifices were not only unacceptable, but abominable to Him, while they lived in sin. Instead of pleasing Him, He looked upon them as a mockery, and therefore an affront and provocation to Him, see Prov. 15:8; Isa. 1:11-23; 66:3; Jer. 6:20; Amos 5:21. They are therefore warned not to rest in these performances, but to conduct themselves aright towards God as their God.
When God shall set up the Kingdom of the Messiah, He shall abolish the old way of worship by sacrifice and offerings. He will not require His worshippers to bring Him their bullocks and their goats, to be burnt upon His altar, Ps. 50:9. But He instituted it to prefigure the great sacrifice which His own Son would in the fullness of time offer upon the cross, to make atonement for sin.
The best sacrifices are of prayer and praise which are preferred before all others sacrifices. Now under the gospel they come instead of those carnal rituals which were imposed until the times of reformation. In (Ps. 50:14, 15) it shows us what is good, and what the Lord our God requires of us, and will accept. We must make a penitent acknowledgment of our sins and confess them. This gives glory to God and shames us into never returning to it. A broken and contrite heart is the sacrifice which God will not despise, Ps. 51:17.
Pay your vows to the Most High
If the sin is not abandoned then the sin-offering cannot be accepted. We must give God thanks for His mercies to us. Offer to God thanksgiving, every day and throughout the day (seven times a day will I praise You). This shall please the Lord, if it come from a humble, thankful heart, full of love to Him and joy in Him. We must be conscientious in carrying out our covenants with Him. Pay your vows to the Most High, forsake your sins, and do your duty better.
Remembering Christ’s death through communion is one such duty. We give thanks to God for His great love in sending His Son to save us, and so pay our vows of love and duty to Him. Giving to the poor is another. In the day of distress we must address ourselves to God by faithful and fervent prayer. (Ps. 50:15): Call upon me in the day of trouble, and not upon any other god.
Our troubles, though we see them coming from God’s hand, must drive us to Him, and not drive us from Him. We must acknowledge Him in all our ways, depend upon His wisdom, power and goodness, and refer ourselves entirely to Him. In so doing we give Him glory. This is a cheaper, easier, quicker way of seeking His favour.
He shall, in answer to our prayers, deliver us, as He has promised to do. He shall do it in such a way and time as He sees fit. When He does we must glorify Him, not only by a grateful mention of His favour, but by living to His praise. Thus we keep up our communion with God, meeting Him with our prayers when He afflicts us and with our praises when He delivers us.
There is a day coming
The wicked are charged with invading and usurping the honours and privileges of religion (Ps. 50:16): What have you to do, O wicked man! to declare my statutes? This is a challenge to those who seem godly, yet they use it to cover the abominable impieties of their hearts and lives.
Some think it points prophetically at the scribes and Pharisees who were the teachers and leaders of the Jewish church at the time of Jesus. They violently opposed that great revolution, and used all the power and interest which they had by sitting in Moses’s seat to hinder it. They took it upon themselves to declare God’s statues, but hated Christ’s instruction. Therefore what right had they to expound the law, when they rejected the gospel?
But it is applicable to all those who practice iniquity, and yet profess to be pious, especially if they be preachers of it. It is very absurd in itself, and a great affront to the God of heaven, for those who are wicked and ungodly to declare His statutes. It is very possible, and too common, for those who declare God’s statutes to others to live in disobedience to them themselves. They take to themselves an honour which they have no title to, and Pay your vows to the Most High when they will be thrust out as intruders.
Do not cast His Words behind you
They are charged with a daring contempt of the Word of God. (Ps. 50:17): You hate instruction. They loved to give instruction, and to tell others what they should do. For this fed their pride and made them look great, and by this craft they got their living. But they hated to receive instruction from God Himself, for that would be a check upon them and a mortification to them. “You hate discipline, the reproofs of the Word and the rebukes of Providence.”
No wonder that those who hate to be reformed hate the means of reformation. You cast My Words behind you. They seemed to set God’s Words before them, when they sat in Moses’s seat, and undertook to teach others out of the law (Rom. 2:19). But in their conversations they cast God’s Word behind them. This is despising the commandment of the Lord and a close alliance with the worst of sinners.
(Ps. 50:18): “When you saw a thief, instead of witnessing against him, you consented with him, and approved of his practices. You desired to be a partner with him and to share in the profits of his cursed trade, a partaker with adulterers. You have done as they have done and encouraged them to go on in their wickedness. And have had pleasure in those who do them,” Rom. 1:32.
A constant persistence in the worst of tongue-sins (Ps. 50:19): “You give your mouth to evil, not only allowed yourself but were addicted to all manner of evil-speaking.” They lied: Your tongue frames deceit, which denotes a deliberate lying. One lie begets another, and one fraud requires another to cover it.
These things God knows
They slandered (Ps. 50:20): “you sit and speak against your brother. You abuse and misrepresent him. You judge and pass sentence upon him, as if you were his master to whom he must stand or fall. Whereas he is your brother, as good as you are, and on the same level as you, for he is your own mother’s son. He is your close relation, whom you ought to love, to vindicate, and stand up for. You abuse him, whose faults you ought to cover and make the best of. When he does wrong, you falsely and unjustly charge him.
You sit as a judge upon the bench to deride and backbite those who you ought to respect and be kind to.” Those who do ill themselves commonly delight in speaking ill of others. These things God knows, and your own heart knows what you have done.” The sins of sinners will be verified against them in the judgment of the great day: “I will convince you, so that you shall not have one word to say for yourself.”
The day is coming when unrepentant sinners will have their mouths forever stopped and be struck speechless. What confusion will they be filled with when God sets their sins in order before their eyes! They cast their sins behind their backs and endeavoured to forget them. But the day is coming when God will make them see their sins to their everlasting shame and terror.
The patience of God is very great
He will set them in order, original sin, actual sins, sins against the law, sins against the gospel, against the first commandments, against the second commandments, sins of childhood and youth, of riper age, and old age. He will set them in order, as the witnesses are set in order, and called in order, against the criminal, and asked what they have to say against him.
The Psalm describes the Judge’s patience, and the sinner’s abuse of that patience: “I kept silence, and did not give you any disturbance in your sinful way. But I left you alone to take your course. The patience of God is very great towards sinners. He sees their sins and hates them. It would be neither difficult nor damaging to Him to punish them. Yet He waits to be gracious and gives them space to repent, that He may render them inexcusable if they do not repent.
His patience is the more wonderful because the sinner makes such poor use of it. “You thought that I was as weak and forgetful as yourself, as false to my Word as you are.” Sinners take God’s silence for consent and therefore the longer they have reprieve the more their hearts are hardened. But, if they do not turn, they shall be made to see their error when it is too late. The God they provoke is just, and holy, and terrible, and not like themselves.
They are given fair warning of the dreadful doom of hypocrites. (Ps. 50:22): “Now consider this, you who forget God, consider that God knows and keeps account of all your sins. He will call you to an account for them. Patience abused will turn into a greater wrath. Though you forget God and your duty to Him He will not forget you and your rebellions against Him. Consider this in time, before it be too late. For if these things are not considered, He will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.”
It is the doom of hypocrites to be cut asunder, Matt. 24:51. Forgetfulness of God is at the bottom of all the wickedness of the wicked. Those who know God, and yet do not obey Him, do certainly forget Him. Those who forget God forget themselves. It will never be right with them till they consider, and so recover themselves.
Consideration is the first step towards conversion. Those who will not consider the warnings of God’s Word will certainly be torn in pieces by the executions of His wrath. When God comes to tear sinners in pieces, there is no delivering them out of His hand. They cannot deliver themselves, nor can any friend they have in the world deliver them.
We must be fervent in spirit
Full instructions are given to us all how to prevent this fearful doom. Ps. 50:23 directs us what to do. Man’s chief aim is to glorify God. We are told here that whosoever offers praise glorifies Him. Whether he be Jew or Gentile, those spiritual sacrifices shall be accepted by Him. We must direct our praise to God. It must be kindled with the flame of holy and devout affection. We must be fervent in spirit, praising the Lord. With this He is pleased. In this we give Him the glory due to His name and do what we can to advance the interests of His kingdom among men.
Man’s chief end, in conjunction with this, is to enjoy God. We are told that those who order their conversation aright shall see His salvation. It is not enough for us to offer praise, but we must order our conversation aright. Thanksgiving is good, but thanks-living is better. Those who would have their conversations right must take care to understand and direct it. Those who take care of their conversation secure their salvation. God will make them to see His salvation. He will make them to see it and enjoy it forever. The right ordering of our conversation is the only way, and it is a sure way, to obtain the great salvation.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Prayer for the Day
Father, I come to You. El, Elohim, Jehovah, the God of infinite power, justice and mercy, my Father. Teach me how to know the right way of worshipping You. That of in spirit and in truth. May I be one who shall be gathered to You as one of Your saints who has, in sincerity, covenanted with You. I declare that I take You as my God and I give up myself to You to be Yours. May I be known as one who has joined myself to You.
When You speak may I give ear. May I be always ready to hear what You say that I may comfortably expect that You will speak. Even when You rebuke me in Your Word.
I know that to obey is better than sacrifice, and to love You and my neighbour is better than any offering. May I always offer up the sacrifice of prayer and praise. Cause me to make a penitent acknowledgment of all my sins and readily confess them to You. May I give You the glory and be shamed into never returning to any sin. May my heart be broken for sin and may my heart be contrite. I give You thanks for Your mercies.
May I offer to You thanksgiving, every day and throughout the day. For I know that this pleases You when it comes from a humble, thankful heart, full of love and joy. Cause me to be conscientious in carrying out my covenanted duties to You.
In my duties remind me to remember Christ’s death, giving thanks to You for Your great love in sending Your Son to save me, and so pay my vows of love and duty to You. Cause me to remember the poor and have a heart to help them.
Help me see my troubles as coming from Your hand and may they drive me to You and not drive me from You. Cause me to acknowledge You in all my ways, depend upon Your wisdom, power and goodness, and refer myself entirely to You. In so doing I will give You glory.
May I not only give a grateful mention of Your favour, but may I live to Your praise. Cause me to keep up my communion with You, meeting You with my prayers when You afflict me and with my praises when You deliver me.
May my praises be kindled with the flame of holy and devout affection. Cause me to be fervent in spirit, praising the Lord. For I know that in this You are pleased. In this I give You the glory that is due to Your name. May I do what I can to advance the interests of Your kingdom among men.
Let me know how to enjoy You. Not only to offer praise to You, but to order my conversation aright. May my life be full of thanksgiving and thanks-living. For I know it is the sure way to obtain the great salvation. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.