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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Psalms 50

 

 

Verses 1-10

A Psalm of Asaph.

Whether this means that Asaph wrote it, or that it was committed to him to sing, we do not know. Certainly Asaph did write some Psalms. There are twelve ascribed to him in the book of Psalms. He wrote some, and it is equally certain that some ethers were dedicated to him. He had the leadership of the orchestra, who sang the Psalm in the temple. This is a very marvelous Psalm. If we only consider the poetry of it, it is one of the chief of the Psalms, but its matter is very deep — august. It should be read with great reverence of spirit. The Psalm begins with a prologue in which the scene is introduced. God is represented as coming forth out of Zion to judge those who profess to be his people — to discern between the precious and the vile — to separate between mere professors and pretenders. The first six verses represent God as coming.

Psalms 50:1. The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.

The Hebrew hath it, “El Elohim, Jehovah hath spoken” — three names of God — great and mysterious — the strong God, the only God, the self-existent God. He speaks — calls upon the whole earth from the east to the west to listen to his voice.

Psalms 50:2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.

There he dwelt. Now in this scene he is represented as shining forth from it. As he had described the earth as being lighted by the sun from the east to the west, so now God himself, who at first speaks and demands a hearing, now shines forth with beams of glory which altogether eclipse the brightness of the sun. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.”

Psalms 50:3. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

The voice was heard saying that God would come, and then the beams of glory which warned men that he was coming; and here his people stand attentive, expecting him to come. “They expect him to speak.” Fire and rushing wind are usually used in Scripture as attendants of the throne of God, fire representing justice in action, and the tempest representing his power when it is displayed. Think of God’s coming thus. The poet here pictures it, but it will be so in very deed. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance upon thee that know not God.” He will even came after this manner, “for our God is a consuming fire.”

Psalms 50:4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

Do you catch the thought? There comes the great Judge with the fire burning before him. He rides upon a cherub — yea, rides upon the wings of the wind, and then he calls heaven, with all the angels and glorified spirits,

and he calls to earth, with all its inhabitants, to stand and witness what he does while he judges his people.

Psalms 50:5. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

God has a separated and chosen people. It will be a part of the proceedings at the last great day to gather these together unto God. There will be a day when he will make up his jewels — a time when he will gather his wheat into his garner. But as this Psalm stands, this is a large gathering. It refers to a picture of all professing saints being brought before the throne of God — true saints that made a covenant with God by sacrifice. They see Jesus Christ, who ratifies the covenant of grace by blood, and they have laid their hands on Christ, and the covenant made between them and God. But there were others in the Psalmist’s day who had offered sacrifice and pretended to have made a covenant with God, and there are their representatives in these days. They are now to be gathered before the throne of judgment, for God has come to judge them.

Psalms 50:6. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

The very heavens, as they look down upon the august assize where God himself, not by deputy, but in the person of his dear Son, shall sit and judge — the heavens shall declare his righteousness. Now I doubt not the heavens often wonder how it is that God permits the ungodly to be mixed with the righteous in his Church. But ah! when the fan shall be in his hand, and he shall thoroughly purge his floor — when he shall lay justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet — the angels shall wonder at the exactness and accuracy of the divine judgment. “Selah.’ Pause, rest, consider, admire, adore, humble yourself, pray. It is good to have a pause when such a scene as this is before us. Now from the 5th verse down to the 15th verse you have God’s dealing with his people. The Judge is sitting on the throne. He begins to speak thus: —

Psalms 50:7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.

It is with his national people, the Jews; it is with his visible Church, God is now dealing. He himself has seen the ways of his professing people: he need not, therefore, call any witnesses. He who cannot err will testify against us; and he declares himself here not only as God, but under that name, “thy God.” It was thus the law began. “I am the Lord thy God that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of bondage.” It is thus the judgment and rebuke begin: “I am God, even thy God.”

Psalms 50:8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.

He is going to deal with weightier matters than that. Whether they have, or have not, offered abundant sacrifices, that is not the thing which God looks at. “I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices. Nay, I have done with thy sacrifices.”

Psalms 50:9. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.

“Do you think that these things in themselves are of any value to me. O ye formalists? I will not even take them.”

Psalms 50:10. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

Though men call them theirs, yet they are thy God’s.


Verses 1-23

A Psalm of Asaph. It is mentioned, in the life of Hezekiah, that “the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer,” so that very likely this Psalm was sung in the temple after it had been cleansed and reopened for worship. The first part of the Psalm contains a majestic prophecy of the Second Advent.

Psalms 50:1-3. The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.

He came once under the old legal dispensation, and then “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount; ... Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended upon in it fire,” and when Christ shall come, in the latter days, with equal splendor, there shall be fire and tempest to swell the pomp of his court.

Psalms 50:4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

Heaven shall yield up the blessed who are already there, and earth shall give up those that are alive and remain until Christ’s coming, and so the whole company of the redeemed shall stand in the presence of their great Lord and Saviour when Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” This is the summons that is to ring out to the heavens above and the earth beneath: —

Psalms 50:5-6. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

Now the subject of the Psalm changes; but let not the doctrine of the Second Advent pass from our thoughts. Christ will surely come again, but are we all prepared to meet him? Shall we behold that glorious appearance with joy or with sorrow? When he reigns with his ancients gloriously, shall we share in the splendors of that reign? Lord, call us to thyself now; help us to suffer with thee now; help us to bear reproach for thee among men now, and then, though — “It doth not yet appear how great we must be made,” — yet we know that “When we see our Saviour here, we shall be like our Head.” Now the Lord addresses his own people: —

Psalms 50:7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.

Note then that, with all the faults which Christ can find in his people, he is still their God. All the sins of the saints cannot separate them from Christ. They may blot the indenture, but it is only a copy of the covenant made by Christ on their behalf; the real title-deeds are in heaven, beyond all risk of loss. Sinner though thou art, O child of Israel, yet God is thy God still, and not all thine imperfections, follies, and backslidings can ever rob thee of thine eternal interest in him.

Psalms 50:8-13. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?

The Lord puts a slur upon the Levitical sacrifices in comparison with evangelical offerings. He sets prayer and praise before the blood of bulls or the sacrifices of goats. Yet we are not to understand that God despises the gifts of his people. If you give to God as though he needed your help, he will have none of it but our gracious God is so condescending that, although he needs nothing, he permits his people to bring their thank-offerings, and to lay them at his feet. My God, wilt thou accept a gift from me? Then I will not be slow to give it to thee. Let every one of us feel in his heart that, though God needeth nothing from us, yet we need the privilege of giving to him.

Psalms 50:14-15. Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

See the three ways of praising God. One is by giving him your grateful thanksgiving. Banish your murmurings; sweep away your mistrusts; and let your mouth be filled with his praise all the day long. Then the next way of praising God is by paying your vows unto him; let your constant prayers and offerings to God prove the gratitude of your heart. And the last and sweetest way of praising God is to call upon him in the day of trouble. There are many of you who are in trouble at this moment, therefore call upon God. Perhaps you say, “That will benefit me, but how will it glorify him?” Why, God getteth much honour out of hearts that dare to trust him. If thou canst cast thy burden upon the Lord, thou wilt as much honour him as angels do when, with veiled faces, they cry, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” We adore his wisdom, his faithfulness, his love, his grace, his truth, his power, when we believe that in the darkest night he can bring us sudden daylight, and that in the ebb-tide of our affairs he can bring the floods back again. Christian, honour thy God by calling upon him. With all thy difficulties, and doubts, and fears, call upon God, and he will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify him. Now comes another change: —

Psalms 50:16. 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?

Unconverted preachers, unsaved Sabbath-school teachers, what answer can you give to this question of the Most High?

Psalms 50:17-20. Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and has been a partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.

Slander, you see, is put side by side with adultery and theft; and indeed, I do not know whether it is not the worst of the three. You might almost as well cut a man’s throat as slander his character. You had better steal his purse than steal his good name. “What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.” There are no coals hot enough to burn slanderous tongues; there are no punishments severe enough for those who slander their own mother’s son.

Psalms 50:21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence;

A wonderful thing is that silence of God, that longsuffering with sinners and another wonderful thing is the impudent interpretation which the sinner gives to that silence.

Psalms 50:21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

“I will do what I have not yet done. If thou thinkest me in arrears, I will clear myself with thee soon. I will ease me of mine adversaries.” When God arises in judgment, he may make it to be a slow work, but he will make it to be a sure work.

Psalms 50:22-23. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

How blessed, then, is it to praise the Lord both with the lip and with the life!


Verses 14-23

In the first part of this Psalm God has solemnly expostulated with his people as to the utter worthlessness of sacrifice and ceremony apart from living faith in him, and holy life as its fruit; and he sums it all up in the searching question of the 13th verse, “Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Have ye such a groveling opinion of me, your God, as to conceive that I am satisfied with these things?” See what contempt the Lord pours upon sacrifices — even those that were of his own ordaining — when men rested in them and made them their confidence and their end.

Psalms 50:14. Offer unto God thanksgiving:

This is what he wants — heart-work.

Psalms 50:14. And pay thy vows unto the most High:

This is what he demands — obedience.

Psalms 50:15. And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

Thus you see God has spoken to his professing people — to those who were moral, decent, and observant of outward ritual. He now turns to some others — some others, perhaps, quite as outwardly religious, but their lives were immoral; their conduct was a breach of his law. At first he speaks of their neglect of the first table, which says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and shows that it is not bullocks and rams which can make amends for forgetfulness of God. Now he turns to the second table and shows that no amount of sacrifice can make up for breaches of the law of God as it touches our fellow men.

Psalms 50:16. 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?

Your unholiness, even though you were of the tribe of Levi, would disqualify you from declaring my statutes. Your mouth full of slander, how should you dare to use it to speak of my covenant with it?

Psalms 50:17. Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.

As if they were worthless things to be thrown away — as if they were obnoxious things to be thrown behind thy back where thou couldest not see them. “Dost thou talk about worshipping me, whilst thou art neglecting my words?” Now it is a very solemn thing when a man boasts about the covenant, or about the doctrines of grace, or about outward ceremonies, and yet there are parts of God’s Word that he neglects — there are portions of God’s will that he dares not look in the face. If ever I meet a text that I am afraid of, I begin to be afraid off myself; and if I feel any tendency to take away from a text any of its swooping charges or its strong demands, I feel that surely I must have quarreled, with this text, because it has quarreled with me. How can we think we are offering to God acceptable sacrifice when any of his words are cast behind our backs?

Psalms 50:18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.

“When thou sawest a thief thou consentedst with him,” and some professors do this. If they do not themselves rob, there are some who will employ their clerks to tell lies in writing. They consent in the bad trade of others. They become accomplices, helping to make excuses for others.

“And hast been partaker with adulterers.” Can a man profess to be religious, and yet do this? Well, I have known such, and such will creep into the Church of God still — unclean, unchaste men, who nevertheless will come and sit as God’s people sit, and sing as God’s people sing. And, indeed, any one who listens to lascivious talk, or who smiles at an unchaste jest, is himself a partaker with adulterers more or less.

Psalms 50:19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.

How many do this, and yet think they are the children of God? They ruin other characters most remorselessly; they will spread false reports, if not actually invent them, and yet think themselves the people of God.

Psalms 50:20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.

When a tongue has once learned the habit of calumny, it will spare none. The nearest relative and the dearest will become victims to the habit —first of gossip and afterwards of actual detraction and lying. Oh! the misery, the pain, that is caused in the world by this habit which is so rife! And can we imagine ourselves to be the people of God when we delight in repeating false stories about others? Have we forgotten the truth of that word, “All liars shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone”? As surely as God is true and loves truth, if we love lies, where God is we can never come. It matters not how much we may pretend to have reverence for God, and to have an experience of his truth; we are not of the truth, neither are we of God.

Psalms 50:21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence;

God, in his long-suffering, bears with these sinners. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” These men came at last to say, “Pooh! the prophets make too much fuss about holiness. You can serve God, and yet, after all, live as we do. So long as we give God a tithe, it matters not how we get our property. If we offer him the bulls, he will be quite content.” Ah! to what do men degrade their God! Some made him of old to be like unto a bullock that hath horns and hoofs; but many men now-a-days think God to be like themselves, and that is worse.

Psalms 50:21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

“I will lay thy sins out before thee — parcel them out, ‘Item this’ — Item that.’ I will classify them: I will set them like a dreadful army in array before thee. I will let thee see that, though I had patience with thee, I was neither blind nor deaf, but heard and saw all that thou hast done, and noted it all.” Oh! what a vista this opens up for unholy professors — for ungodly members of Christian churches!

Psalms 50:22. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

What solemn words! What dreadful words? God never plays at threatening; and his ministers, when they speak of wrath to come, are not to speak with velvet mouths and soft words, for “Oh! the wrath to come,” as George Whitefield used to say with uplifted hands and streaming eyes, “The wrath to come! The wrath to come — how dreadful will it be:” God himself proves it. “Beware ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver.”

And then the Psalm finishes up with this kind word of gracious address which drops like raindrops out of the bosom of the tempest that went before:

Psalms 50:23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me:

More than he that offers bullocks.

Psalms 50:23. And to him that ordereth his conversation aright.

The man that strives in the sight of God to walk a holy life: this is the man to whom:

Psalms 50:23. Will I show the salvation of God.

If he wants saving, let him order his conversation as he may, he will owe all to sovereign grace. He will have no merit of his own; “but where I by grace,” saith the Lord, “lead a man to order his conversation aright there will I show more and more fully, and at last perfectly in him, the salvation of God.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 50:14-23; Ezekiel 36:21-38.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 50:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/psalms-50.html. 2011.

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