Psalm 50:1-23

A Psalm of Asaph.

1 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.

Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.

He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:

“Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”

Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge. Selah

“Hear, O My people, and I will speak,
O Israel, and I will testify against you;
I am God, your God!

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices
Or your burnt offerings,
Which are continually before Me.

I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.

10 For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.

13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.

15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,

17 Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?

18 When you saw a thief, you consented with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.

19 You give your mouth to evil,
And your tongue frames deceit.

20 You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.

21 These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.

22 “Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:

23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

Asaph (intro) — The first of three heads of the three families of Levitical singers in the time of David (see 1 Chronicles 25; 16:7). He is also elsewhere described as a “seer” (2 Chronicles 29:30), one “who prophesied” (1 Chronicles 25:1-2), and “the prophet” (Matthew 13:35) — descriptions which are clearly borne out in the present psalm, not only by virtue of its inclusion in Scripture, but also his expressing the majority of the psalm (from v.5 onwards) as the first-person utterance of God. Aside from this psalm there are eleven others attributed to Asaph, all of which are found at the beginning of the “third book” of Psalms (i.e., Psalms 73-83). — Wechsler, page 141.

the Mighty One, God the Lord (v.1) = El Elohim Yahweh

our God shall come (v.3) — Psalm 96:13

He shall call to the heavens from above (v.4) — The word “from” should be omitted. It should just read “heavens above.”

Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice (v.5) — Exodus 24:7-8: Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” See also Hebrews 9:19-22.

the heavens declare His righteousness (v.6) — Psalm 97:6

Towards His people — righteous Israelites — God’s judicial “fire” (which frequently attends the manifestations of God, either in visions or material-historical reality, especially in connection with His giving of the Law to Israel) is applied in admonishment, or chastisement, and ultimately acquittal. The basis for this chastisement (as opposed to judgment) is the relationship that exists between God and His people, as borne out by His description of them as “My people” and Himself as “your God” (v.7) — which descriptions clearly recall and so tie together both his fourth, culminating promise given at the outset of His first historical act of redeeming His people (the Exodus) and His declaration of the promise’s fulfillment at His final historical act of redeeming His people when they are brought in imperishable purity into their home of the New Creation. — Wechsler, page 142.

His accusation (v.8) is not that they have been guilty of negligence in the ritual of sacrifices; that duty has been regularly performed. His charge (vs. 9-13) concerns their motives. They have offered their beasts to Him as though He had immediate need of them and must therefore feel grateful for their generosity. God declares the absurdity of such a view of worship; all mans’ possessions, all nature in fact, belong to Him.  — Guthrie, page 483.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you (v.12) — None of my commentaries comment on this. I think the sense must be that if God were hungry (hypothetically), He would tell them because there would be no need — everything He would need is already His.

the world is Mine (v.12) — Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Job 41:11; Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:26

cast My words behind you (v.17) — Nehemiah 9:26

set them in order before your eyes (v.21) — Psalm 90:8

God’s patience they regard as weakness (v.21), and His forbearance, which would give them opportunity to repent, is construed as indifference or even acquiescence. Their casual assumption that God must be as lawless, fraudulent and faithless as themselves will be utterly demolished. Their every deed will be brought before them and its consequences upon their own selves will be shown. — Guthrie, page 483.

consider this (v.22) — offering a last chance to make things right?

Immediately prior to the [second coming] of the Messiah, Israel will be reduced to the lowest possible depth of misery and well-nigh extinction as a nation. But that that moment her Deliverer will appear on Mount Zion with all the accompaniments of terrific majesty as at Sinai (vs. 2 and 3), and He will summon the whole earth to judgment (v.1); He will dispatch His angels to gather His saints together to Him (vs. 4-5); He will judge them (vs. 7-15), for judgment must begin at the House of God; then He will judge the wicked (vs. 16-21); the inhabitants of the heavens will applaud the righteousness of the judgment, declaring the Man who judges (Acts 17:31) to be God (v.6); and the Psalm closes with a warning to the wicked (v.22) and with a message to the righteous (v.23). — Williams, page 338

Note: Wechsler considers the “wicked” addressed in verses 16-22 to be wicked Israelites because they profess God’s statutes and covenant (v.16) but do not worship Him.

show (v.23) = “cause to see” with the sense of “provide” — God’s active interaction with people to provide them what is best.

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