Saturday, March 31, 2012

God's Judgment of the Insincere

[A Psalm of Asaph]

1 The mighty God, even the LORD, 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.

3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.

8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been 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, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts 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 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?

17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.

18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.

19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.

20 Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.

21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

—Psalm 50 KJV Bible

The psalm superscription says it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician in the time of King David. David had appointed Asaph minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:19; 16) and Asaph's descendants were also official Temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform.

In this psalm, Asaph reports an appearance of God for judgment and presents God's indictments of His people for insincere sacrifices, with instruction for correction, and God's indictments for unethical practices, with instruction for correction.

This would not be the only time the people would have to learn these lessons. The prophets Isaiah and Micah, who lived about 250 years after David and Asaph, similarly instructed the people of their generation (Isaiah 1:11-20; Micah 6:6-9).

In verses 1 through 6, Asaph tells of God judging the people. In verse 2, Asaph refers to "Zion," an expression for the city of Jerusalem. Asaph describes how in the past the godly example of the people had shined among the nations as a reflection of the image of God. But in verse 3, Asaph warns that God will no long sit in "silence" while the people now sin against Him. In verse 5, Asaph describes the people of Israel as the "saints," sometimes translated as the "godly ones." These are the people with whom God made the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 24:7) and whom God accuses in verse 7.

The Hebrew "selah" is used after verse 6 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 7 through 13, Asaph presents God's indictments of His people for insincere sacrifices. In verses 8 through 13, Asaph explains that God does not reprove them for failing to bring their offerings, but for bringing them with the motive of trying to make the God who owns everything dependent on their generosity.

In verses 14 and 15, Asaph gives instruction to correct the people for their insincere sacrifices. The people are to sincerely offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. They are also to rightly honor God when He delivers them from trouble.

In verses 16 through 21, Asaph lists God's indictments for unethical practices. In verses 16 through 17, Asaph speaks for God, accusing the people of giving lip service to God's law while violating them. Asaph lists the details in verses 18 through 20. They have associated with thieves and become adulterers. They have become liars to the point of testifying falsely, even against members of their own family. In verse 21, Asaph exposes the hopes of the people; that by God's "silence" until now, He indicated that He was as lawless as they were!

In verses 22 and 23, Asaph gives the people instruction to correct their unethical practices and prevent their destruction by God. The people are to honor God by bringing offerings of praise and thanksgiving and by following the path that God instructs for their lives.

Father, I confess that I am not always honest with You or myself. At times I am insincere in my worship, in my service and in my obedience to You. Please forgive me. I thank You, I praise You and I give You glory, as I should. Help me to shine with Your light through even the most basic of tasks. Let all be done for You.


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