Today as we enter the Lord’s courts of praise, we turn to Psalm 50, a psalm of Asaph in which God speaks powerfully and majestically to His covenant people as well as to the wicked hypocrites in the visible church. It is a psalm most appropriate for our preparation for worship.
There are three distinct parts to this psalm. In the first part the Lord is set forth as the holy and righteous Judge of His people. In His awesome presence He comes to meet His covenant people in holy fellowship and calls them to appear before Him. This is the first thing we must remember about worship. Let us meditate on these words and prepare for worship according to them:
The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
4He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
5Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
6And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
In the second part of Psalm 50 God addresses His chosen people and reminds them of the sacrifices which delight Him when they assemble before Him in worship. Because He is the sovereign Creator and Owner of all things, it is not animals, or money, or any external gifts that please Him. What He wants and calls us to give is the sacrifice of thanksgiving and the prayer of true supplication for salvation. Let’s listen again and learn from these words before we come to God’s house:
7Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
8I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
9I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
10For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
11I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
12If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
13Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
And finally, in the third part of Psalm 50 God addresses the wicked hypocrites in His visible church who take His law and covenant in their mouth, but hate them in their hearts and cast them aside in their daily walk. These are “hard” words, but necessary for all of us to hear. For the righteous, these words will lead them to repent of their own sins of unfaithfulness and make them careful to be sincere before the Lord, clinging by faith to Christ crucified and risen for them. But for the wicked, they will lead to further hardening and greater rebellion against God. Let us weigh these words too as we prepare for worship:
16But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
17Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
18When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
19Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
20Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.
21These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
And so the psalmist closes with these final words of the holy, righteous, and sovereign Lord:
22Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
23Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
May these words lead us to pure worship today and godly living in this coming week. May the Lord show us unworthy sinners His abundant salvation in Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel. May God richly bless your Lord’s day of rest.