God the Judge summons the court (vv. 1-6) and confronts two offenders: the formalist, to whom worship is a ritual to follow (vv. 7-15), and the hypocrite, to whom worship is a disguise to cover sin (vv. 16-21). The psalm closes with a call to all honest worshippers to be faithful to God (vv. 22-23).
Who IS a true worshipper of God? Who are we as worshippers of God?
The honest and true worshipper has a proper fear of the Lord and seeks only to honor Him in his worship. He obeys God’s will (“orders his way aright,” nasb) and is able to experience (“see”) the salvation of the Lord. When you combine these characteristics with verses 14 and 15–gratitude to God, obedience, prayer, and a desire to glorify God–you have a description of worshippers who bring joy to the heart of God.
Worship is not about what I do in outward appearance, it is what is in my heart when I worship the God of all. I am reminded of what God said to Samuel when choosing a king, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) We cannot judge the heart like God can so we should not judge how a person worships God.
Do we bring God down to where we are in our thinking, and proceed to humanize Him? What a dangerous activity! God is God whether we choose to believe Him or not. We cannot and should not try to describe God in ways that satisfy our finite minds. God is beyond all human thinking. We should not humanize God with traits of darkness that God does not possess. “He is Light and in Him is no darkness.” See 1 John 1:5. Only God’s Word can describe Him in ways that give Him glory and honor. Stick to God’s Word, for His Word is Truth. God Word is unchanging, unlike our minds and viewpoints.
What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything (vv. 14-15). What the Lord doesn’t want is ritualism or done only by habit. He wants our worship to come from the heart.
This Psalm also addressed “the wicked,” the Israelites in the covenant community who were reciting the creed with their lips but deliberately disobeying God’s law. After breaking God’s law, they would go to the sanctuary and act very religious so they could cover up their sins. God is long-suffering with sinners, but these wicked people interpreted God’s silence as His approval. Their thinking was so confused that they ended up creating a god in their own image (v. 21). God was in the hands of ignorant sinners! They had forgotten God (Rom. 1:22-28) and didn’t want Him to interfere with their lifestyle. They had a false confidence that they could sin and get away with it.
Time to confess and commit. Which category do we find ourselves? Heartless, Hypocritical, or Honest in our worship of God for Who He really is, God of all, in all because He created all.
The right choice leads to salvation and life forevermore with God! “As soon as you set your foot on the Way, I’ll show you my salvation.”
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 50, The Message
1-3 The God of gods—it’s God!—speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
welcomes the sun in the east,
farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.
4-5 He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
on the Bible their loyalty to me.”
6 The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
that here God is judge.
7-15 “Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”
16-21 Next, God calls up the wicked:
“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
laying your wickedness out in plain sight.
22-23 “Time’s up for playing fast and
loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”
TRUTH: “It’s the praising life that honors me. As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.” –God
Proverb 18:13-15, The Message
Answering before listening
is both stupid and rude.
14 A healthy spirit conquers adversity,
but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?
15 Wise men and women are always learning,
always listening for fresh insights.
WISDOM: Listen, not to answer, but to learn and understand. The wise are always learning. Leaders are learners.
You are God and I am not. I come to you with praise and thanksgiving for all you have done in my life, all you are doing and all you will do. My life is in You. My heart is yours forever. My soul longs for you each morning. My mind loves to be filled by your thoughts that are higher than my thoughts. I love you, Lord with all that is in me. Continue to remove all that offends you and make me holy before you. This is my heart and this is my song to you today.
In Jesus Name, Amen