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The majesty of God in the church: his order to gather saints. The pleasure of God is not in ceremonies, but in sincerity of obedience.
A Psalm of Asaph.
Title. ףּלאס מזמור mizmor leasaph. A psalm of Asaph— For Asaph. Or, according to the Chaldee paraphrast, "A psalm by the hand of Asaph;" who is supposed to have conveyed it to the tabernacle by the order of David, who probably wrote it, and appointed this Asaph, a Levite, to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to record, and thank and praise the Lord God of Israel. This psalm is an illustrious prophesy, concerning the abrogation of the Jewish religion, the calling of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the true evangelical worship throughout the world. It is delivered with great pomp and sublimity: The first six verses are a previous solemnity to the great trial; in which the Almighty is represented, as calling his people to account before heaven and earth, that they may be witnesses to his justice. He tells them, they must not think to atone for a wicked life by sacrifice: it was not the slain beast, but the homage of the heart which he would accept. For a fine critique upon this exquisite ode, we refer the reader to the beginning of Bishop Lowth's 27th Prelection.
Psalms 50:2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty— "Here," says Dr. Delaney, "the Almighty kept his court; and from hence he sent out his ambassadors, the prophets, to publish his decrees to the whole world around him, with more ease and speedier conveyance than could possibly have been done from any other region of the habitable world. That this was the seat and fountain-head of true religion, is evidenced beyond all doubt from the history of the Jewish nation. This was the seat of Melchisedeck, the king and high-priest of the living God in the days of Abraham. What the state of Jerusalem was from his time to the days of David, nowhere appears; but this is certain, that from David to Jesus Christ God was known in her palaces as a sure refuge. Jerusalem was the chief, is now the sole source of true religion to the whole habitable world around it; from hence, as from a central point, the light of the law first, and of the gospel afterwards, shone out to the surrounding nations: and to this end this city was chosen; was eminently and emphatically the chosen city of God; beautiful for situation, and the joy of the whole earth; more especially when the sun of righteousness rose up in it, the glory of his people Israel, and a light to lighten the Gentiles, till all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." book 2: chap. 8.
Psalms 50:3. Our God shall come— That is Christ. Now there are three comings of Christ expressed in the Scripture; the first in humility, in our flesh and nature; the last in glory, for the judging of the whole world; and an intermediate coming, in which he was to effect mighty works by the power of his Spirit. The psalm seems to belong most signally to this coming of our Saviour, as also Psalms 96:10-13. He shall not keep silence, means, according to the original, shall not delay. The figurative expressions in the latter part of the verse represent the terrible manner of his coming, and allude to the giving of the law from mount Sinai.
Psalms 50:4-6. He shall call to the heavens— Mr. Mudge reads the 5th verse in a parenthesis, and renders the 4th verse thus; He calleth to the heavens above, and to the earth, in order for the trial of his people.
Psalms 50:7-8. Hear, O my people— The prophet here, as in Psa 50:5 introduces God the Father, speaking to the church. I will testify against thee, is rendered by Castalio, while I give thee this notice; namely, "of my establishing a new law with the members of the Christian church, and entering into a covenant of mercy with them, ratified and sealed by the death of my son." For I am thy God; i.e. in a more particular manner the God of the faithful; See Romans 6:8. In the 8th and five following verses is expressed the rejection of the sacrifices of beasts, and of the legal worship. I will not reprove thee, &c. means, "I do not complain of any negligence you have been guilty of, with relation to sacrifices, which were continually before me; punctually and regularly offered to me, according to the law; (See Numbers 28:31.) But I now testify unto you, and admonish you, that those sacrifices are to cease; since they were but types of the perfect sacrifice of Christ."
Psalms 50:11. I know all the fowls of the mountains— I know all the fowls of the air. Houbigant.
Psalms 50:14-15. Offer unto God, &c.— In these two verses is expressed the establishment of the Christian service, the spiritual oblation of prayer and thanksgiving. By thanksgiving here may be meant not only the blessing God for all his mercies in general; but also that eucharistical sacrifice, in which we particularly bless him for the gift of his son to die for us; we are to pay the vows, to perform the promises and resolutions made at that eucharist, which are constantly to be attended with offerings to the poor, conformable to the voluntary oblations among the Jews; With such sacrifice, God is still well pleased, Hebrews 13:16. And thus doing, I will deliver thee, saith he; that is, for the sake of Messiah, in whose name all our services are to be addressed to God.
Psalms 50:16-17. But unto the wicked God saith— The prophet now proceeds, as from the mouth of God, to foretel the destruction of the impenitent Jews; who, having received the law of God, and entered into covenant with him, yet would not be reformed by the preaching of Christ, who came to fulfil the law, and to make a new covenant with them. What hast thou to do? &c. was the reproach with which our Saviour upbraided the Jews of his time, who had continually the law of Moses in their mouths, while they were entirely ignorant of the true spirit and the design of it. See John 5:45; John 5:47. Psa 50:17 may well be applied to the Pharisees and masters of the synagogue, the secret motives of whose hatred against Christ were, his sharp reproofs of their hypocrisy and other crimes. See Matthew 23:13-14; Matthew 23:39.
Psalms 50:18. When thou sawest a thief, &c.— In this and the two following verses are represented the notorious vices of the synagogue, which was extremely corrupt in the time of Christ. Mudge renders the latter clause of the 19th verse, thy tongue addeth deceit to deceit; and the 20th verse, Thou art continually speaking against thy brother; placing a stumbling-block before the son of thy mother.
Psalms 50:21. I kept silence— Or, as at Psalms 50:3. I delayed, or let thee alone. "I deferred to cut thee off, that thou mightest have time for repentance. And this delay, this indulgence and patience of mine, thou seemedst to think, was an approbation of those actions, and an encouragement to proceed securely in them: but, fatal mistake! I will severely chastise thee, and make thee thoroughly sensible how grievously thou hast hereby offended me."
Psalms 50:22-23. Now consider this— Here God must be supposed to have delivered up the wicked man to punishment irreversible; and upon that, to speak these two verses. Upon this supposition, lest I tear, &c. comes in very pertinently. See Hosea 13:7-8. The last verse sums up what had been the two principal points of charge, "I look upon him only as the man who truly honours me, who offers before me a grateful heart; and none but the man who sets himself to order his life aright, shall ever find protection and blessing from God." See Mudge.
REFLECTIONS.—The matter of this psalm is deeply solemn and weighty.
1. The Psalmist begins with an address, awakening the attention of heaven and earth, from that great God, who, in the glory of uncreated majesty, ascends his radiant throne. The earth, from the rising to the setting sun, is commanded to hearken, while out of Zion, the church of God on earth, or from the heavenly hill of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, the El, Elohim, Jehovah, the Almighty God, shines forth in his gospel to enlighten the earth; or from his judgment-seat sends out his light and truth that he may weigh the actions of men in his balances, and execute righteous judgment. Terrible shall be the day of his coming, as when of old in thick clouds and darkness he descended on Sinai's hoary top, and more awful his voice than those mighty thunderings and words of terror, at which Moses so exceedingly troubled. In such tremendous majesty he appeared, when, after his slighted gospel, swift vengeance seized on the Jewish people; and we wait for the last most awful manifestation of his glory, when the assembled world of men and angels shall stand before his dread tribunal.
2. He commands his saints, the faithful who are or will be saved by grace, to be collected and separated for himself, either by the ministers of the churches; or by his angels on the resurrection-day, who shall gather the righteous from among the wicked: and these faithful ones are described as having made a covenant with him by sacrifice, or on sacrifice; that is to say, have laid hold on the covenant of grace established in the Redeemer, and, feeding on the memorials of his sacrifice, have solemnly given up themselves to him, as bought with his blood. Note; All our hopes in eternity depend on the great sacrifice that our Redeemer offered in our behalf.
3. His righteousness shall be applauded; the heavens and all their hosts will proclaim it, and praise him for it; for God is judge himself, and therefore all his decisions must be guided by unerring justice. His saints shall be acquitted with honour; and the sinner with righteous judgment shall be condemned.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 50". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany