1“The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. 4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 ‘Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!’ 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah 7 ‘Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. 8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. 9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”’
Asaph the psalmist records the speaker of Psalm 50 as “The Mighty One, God the LORD” (Psalm 50:1), as he lays out judgement of two groups similar to Jesus’ “sheep and goats” warning in Matthew 25:31-46. The second group will be laid out in the later verses. This first half is addressed to the “faithful ones” who had a covenant with Him through a “sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:5) It may seem a bit confusing. He says He doesn’t need any of the sacrifices. Everything offered, in fact, already belongs to Him. It’s not yours in the first place, and furthermore, He doesn’t really want it. He doesn’t eat the meat of the creatures He created nor drink their blood. So why are they offering these sacrifices? Because they were commanded by the LORD through Moses. So, He clearly states, “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.” (Psalm 50:8) So, in essence, you are obeying the letter of the Law in the physical sacrifice. That’s great!
He then gets to the heart of the issue. The sacrifice He’s really looking for, what His faithful ones (that is, those who call upon Him as their LORD God), are to bring is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, while fulfilling your vows, i.e. your physical sacrifices. With this comes a powerful promise from God Almighty--come to me with a thankful heart remembering who it is who rules the heavens and the earth, who provides all things—even the very things you bring to sacrifice as offerings, providing you with the very physical ability to bring the offering. Remember Him with a sincere and thankful heart. He says, “…call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15).
Thankfulness to God is a key pillar in all our “sacrifice” of prayer still today. For example, Paul teaches us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
How much more do we have to be thankful for today? For as we read, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purity our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:11-14). Or as John the Baptist declared from the very beginning, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) He is our sacrifice and worthy of our wholehearted thanksgiving and praise!
Prayer for today: Father, we come before You with thanksgiving and praise for Your continued presence and provision in our lives, especially for Your only begotten Son, Jesus, in whose name we pray with rejoicing, Amen!