Psalms 46-50 Your burnt offerings are continually before me

From Psalms 46-50

19 Psalms Fragment

The psalm calls people to true faith in God. Israel has many people who offered sacrifices to the LORD. But for some that was as far as it went. Today we learn the LORD judges his people. We learn that there are more weightier things in the law the LORD desires.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.


Ps 46.1-11; Book Two; Sons of Korah; God Is Our Fortress

Ps 47.1-9; Book Two; Sons of Korah; God Is King over All the Earth

Ps 48.1-14; Book Two; Sons of Korah; Zion, the City of Our God

Ps 49.1-20; Book Two; Sons of Korah; Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?

Ps 50.1-23; Book Two; Asaph; God Himself Is Judge

Passage and Comments

The psalm begins by speaking about the LORD and his power.

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. (Ps 50:1–2)

The LORD speaks and summons the whole earth. Only one of immense power and authority could do that. The LORD is all powerful. He is king. He is also creator and his creation is a reflection of his own glory and beauty.

Ever considered the beauty of creation and seen the beauty of the LORD in it?

When the LORD summons the earth he is about to judge.

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 (Ps 50:3-6)

In this instance the LORD has not come to judge the nations.

He comes to judge his own people.

The ‘faithful ones’. The people who offer sacrifice. Part of the Law of Moses, sacrifices were a means of worshipping the LORD. His people stand before the LORD and all the heavens show how he looks after his creation and how righteous is his judgment.

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. (Ps 50:7-11)

The LORD speaks against his own people, the faithful ones who offer sacrifice. He does not have a problem with their sacrifices. But he won’t accept them either. Nor does he even need them.

Can we give anything to the LORD he doesn’t already have?

The LORD is king over all creation. It’s all his.

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.” (Ps 50:12-15)

The LORD explains what he considers true sacrifice. Thanksgiving, fulfilling vows and crying out for help.

Giving thanks should be a basic staple of the life of God’s people. He has done so much for them. God’s people should make do on the promises they have made the LORD. God’s people should call out to him when they are in trouble. He will answer.

16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?

17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.

18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. (Ps 50:16-18)

The ones who offer sacrifice also include the wicked. They offer sacrifice as well.

They go through the motions of religious ritual, but they refuse to be taught by the LORD.

They know his word, but do not live by it. In secret they are pleased by wrongdoing and associate with sinners, not calling them to repent.

19 “You give your mouth free rein for 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 have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. (Ps 50:19-21)

The LORD has been aware of their wrong doing for some time. Perhaps they thought they could get away with it.

But no one escapes the judgment of the LORD. All are held to account.

Now is the time when he will judge them. This is what the psalmist describes the LORD doing in verses 4-7.

22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps 50:22-23)

The psalm finishes with a warning to those who forget the LORD and an encouragement for those who seek him. See the LORD.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The passage rings true through Israel’s history. He called his own people to account in for what they had done. Some he spared, because they pleased him. But many he found them guilty. After many covenant warnings he finally pulled the plug and sent them into exile.

Like what we have seen in this psalm. Many thought going through the ritual worship was sufficient to satisfy the LORD (e.g. Isa 1.11-17; Jer 6.20). They didn’t understand the LORD at all. They did not give him their hearts.

Story of Jesus

In the gospel Jesus condemns the same kind of devotion to ritual. Neglecting the more important parts of the law.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Mt 23:16–24)

Jesus like the psalmist, calls us to remember what is important. What the LORD truly desires. How can you apply this today?

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.