Day 09: Psalm 50

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 and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire,

   and a mighty tempest all around him.

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 wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.

Call on 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.

You make friends with a thief when you see one, 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 kin; you slander your own mother’s child.

These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like yourself.

But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.

Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

Psalm 50 (NRSV)

In Psalm 50, we see a theme that is recurring throughout the Old Testament, primarily God’s interest in our sacrifices. This theme appears in Amos 5:22 (Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon), continues in Psalm 51 (For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased), and is the focus of our scripture reading in Psalm 50. In verses 7-13, the Psalmist makes clear that God has very little interest in the physical sacrifices and offerings of Israel who present such lavish sacrifice yet are otherwise unfaithful and disobedient.

So what kind of sacrifice is God interested in? The Psalmist continues in verses 14 and 15: “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving… call on me in the day of trouble.” Recognizing that in the 21st century we no longer practice the sacrificing of animals on the Temple altar, we are still very much a people who are invested in the practice of sacrifice. We give of our money, time and energy to our church, neighbors and local ministry. We sacrifice hours of time dedicated to prayer and the reading of scripture. But do our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God? Is our sacrifice one of thanksgiving and contrition, or do we only give to God that which costs us very little?

Wes Reece, Worship Arts Assistant

Brad Taylor