A Psalm of Asaph. The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and 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 and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah.
Summary – This passage shows an instance of God’s “coming” to judge His people. “God the Lord,” or the “God of Gods,” shining forth from Jerusalem, calls a court session with the earth and heavens as His witness in which He indicts His covenant people, Israel, with whom He is present (vs 2). These were people who had cut a covenant with God (vs 5). Because of His nature as just, God is a righteous judge of His people (vs 6). Beyond this passage, the charge laid is sacrifices enacted by His people with an insincerity of heart, and accompanied by lawlessness (vss. 16-22). Though the psalm as a whole is directed to Israel, it looks ahead to the coming of Christ who in His calling of all nations to Himself “shines forth from Zion” as the Light of the World. His people are those who will enter covenant with Him and bring sacrifices of thanksgiving to Him (vs 23, cf. Romans 12:1). In this passage, God’s attributes of might, creational authority, light, covenant faithfulness, righteousness, and justice are especially highlighted.
“Before the coming of Christ, the Flesh and Blood of this sacrifice [that of Ps 50:23] is promised by victims offered as likenesses thereto; in the Passion of Christ it is rendered in very truth; after Christ’s Ascension it is celebrated by sacramental memorial.” –St. Augustine
Insight – It is almost two months now since Christmas. Do you remember any of the gifts you got? Were you thankful for that gift? By now, the excitement of opening that present has probably worn off, and you may not have looked at it in a little while. Very often, we forget the good things we are given. The Israelites had this very same problem: they forgot to be thankful to God for His bringing them from Egypt to Canaan, and instead disobeyed God and offered sacrifices without being thankful to Him. This was not pleasing to God and so in this Psalm, He is a righteous judge who calls on them to be faithful to Him and offer their sacrifice with thankfulness instead of forgetfulness. God loves to save His people, but He also wants them to remember it and glorify Him! Do you do anything just because that is what you always do? Do you go to church just because? Do you eat and drink at the Lord’s Table just because? Next time you come to the Lord’s Table, remember that God has blessed you in Jesus Christ, and be thankful that Jesus the Light has come into the world!
Child Catechism – Who is the righteous judge? God the Lord.
Discussion – Why do you think God calls on the earth and heavens to witness His judgment of His people Israel in this passage? Since He has the authority to do this, what does that tell us about Him? How could that affect our view of Him as a judge?
Prayer – God, our Lord and our Righteous Judge, thank you that you did not keep silent, but sent your Son Jesus to be our Light. We know that you can see our hearts and we ask that you give us the strength to remember your faithfulness and be thankful. Keep us steadfast in your covenant and grant us finally your Salvation. Amen.