A psalm of Asaph
“Truly God is good to the upright.
He is good to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me,
My feet had almost stumbled.
My steps had nearly slipped.”
The 3rd book of psalms begins with Psalm 73 from Asaph. In fact, there are 12 psalms attributed to Asaph, Psalm 50, and the next 11 psalms at the beginning of this 3rd book of psalms. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him who were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This psalm seems to be a consideration of justice and why did the evildoers prosper much like in the book of Job. There is the common statement that God is good to the upright and the pure of heart. However, this Asaph has almost stumbled. He has almost slipped.
You who forget God!
I will tear you apart!.
There will be none to deliver you!
Those who brings thanksgiving
As their sacrifice,
To those who go the right way
I will show the salvation of God!’”
This psalm concludes with a word to the wise. Don’t forget God! If you do not remember him, he will tear you apart so that no one would be able to help you. However, if you bring thanksgiving sacrifices, you honor God. If you go the right way, God will show you the way to salvation.
‘You give your mouth free rein for evil.
Your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your kin.
You slander your own mother’s child.
These things you have done.
I have been silent.
You thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you.
I lay the charge before you.’”
God continued with his rebuke of the wicked by telling them how they had sinned with their mouth. The wicked ones give free rein to their mouth to say all kinds of evil things with their deceitful tongue. They speak against their own relatives. They slander their own brothers and sisters. They did all these things, but God was silent. They thought that it might be okay since God would have done the same thing. They were wrong. Now they are rebuked as God laid out the charges against them.
“But to the wicked,
‘What right have you
To recite my statutes?
What right have you
To take my covenant on your lips?
You hate discipline!
You cast my words behind you!
You make friends with a thief,
When you see one.
You keep company
This is one of the few times where God speaks directly to the wicked. It is usually about them. He asked them what right they had to recite his statutes. What right did they have to put the covenant on their lips? The wicked hated discipline. They put God’s word behind them. They made friends with thieves and adulterers. This is a strong direct description and rebuke of the wicked.
“‘If I were hungry,
I would not tell you.
The world and all that is in it is mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls?
Do I drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving!’
Pay your vows to the Most High!
Call on me in the day of trouble!
I will deliver you.
You shall glorify me.”
God is not hungry. Anyway the whole world and everything in it is his. He does not eat the flesh of bulls or the blood of goats. He wanted instead a sacrifice of thanksgiving. He wanted them to pay vows to the Most High God, himself. He wanted them to call on him in their day of trouble. He wanted them to communicate with him by praying. Then he would deliver them because they had glorified him.
O my people!
I will speak!
I will testify against you!
I am God!
I am your God!
Not for your sacrifices,
Do I rebuke you.
Your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house.
I will not accept goats from your folds.
Every wild animal of the forest is mine.
The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.
I know all the birds of the air.
I know that all that moves in the field is mine.”
This time the plea is for God asking the people of Israel to hear him, not the other way around. God was going to speak to Israel as he wanted to testify against them. He was rebuking them, but not for their sacrifices, which they had continually brought forth as burnt offerings. He was no longer going to accept bulls and goats as sacrifices. God claimed that all the wild animals were his anyhow. The cattle in the hills, the birds in the air, and all that moved in the fields belonged to God.
A psalm of Asaph
“The Mighty One,
He summons the earth
From the rising of the sun
To its setting.
Out of Zion,
The perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes.
He does not keep silence.
Before him is a devouring fire.
A mighty tempest is all around him.
He calls to the heavens above.
He calls to the earth.
Thus he may judge his people.
‘Gather to me!
My faithful ones!
You made a covenant with me
The heavens declare his righteousness.
God himself is judge!”
This Psalm 50 is the first of 12 psalms ascribed to Asaph. Asaph was a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon. This may also refer to the group named after him that were musicians at the Temple. This Asaph is described in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6, as one who could trace his ancestors directly back to Levi. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 5, he is listed as a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant. This is a song of praise to the power of God, who is in charge of the earth. He has control of the rising and the setting of the sun. His beauty shines from Mount Zion. He has appeared as a devouring fire and a tempest. He has come to judge the people of earth from on high in heaven. He wanted the faithful ones who had made sacrifices to him to come closer to him. He was coming to judge them. With that it was time for another musical interlude pause, the Selah.