Jesus said, "You will see the Son of man come in the clouds of *heaven". (Matthew 26:64) (The "Son of man" is a name that Jesus gave to himself.)
(This is) a psalm of Asaph.
v1 God, the powerful God, the *LORD, is speaking.
He is calling (everything on) the earth,
from where the sun rises (in the east)
to where it goes down (in the west).
v2 God is shining out from Zion, that most beautiful place.
v3 Our God is coming and he will not be quiet.
A fire burns up everything that is in front of him.
And there is a great storm round him.
v4 He is calling the skies above and the earth (below)
to say whether his people are good or bad.
v5 (He says) "Bring my people to me.
(Bring to me) the people that have made a *covenant with me
and have made a *sacrifice to me".
v6 Then the skies (above) showed everyone about (God’s) *righteousness
and that God himself is the *judge. *SELAH
v7 Listen to me, my people, and I will speak (to you).
I have something to say against you, Israel.
I am God, your (own) God.
v8 I will not be angry with your *sacrifices,
nor with you for always burning offerings to me.
v9 I do not need a bull from your farm or goats from your fields.
v10 (This is) because all the animals of the forest are mine,
and (all) the cows and bulls on a thousand hills.
v11 I know every bird in the mountains.
(All) the farm animals are mine.
v12 If I am hungry, I will not tell you.
(This is) because the world is mine
and everything that is in it.
v13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? (No!)
Do I drink the blood of goats? (No!)
v14 Offer to God thanks.
Do what you have promised for the *Most High.
v15 Then pray to me when you are in trouble.
I will make you safe and you will say good things to me.
v16 But to the bad people God says:
· why do you repeat my rules?
· why do you talk about my *covenant?
v17 For you *hate me telling you what to do.
You put my words behind you.
v18 If you see someone robbing (someone else) then you do it with him!
If people have sex with other people’s wives or husbands, you do it too!
v19 Your mouth speaks *evil and your *tongue says things that are false.
v20 You sit and say things against your own brother.
You repeat bad things about your own mother’s son!
v21 You did all this and I said nothing.
(So) you thought that I was just *like you.
But I will be angry with you
and tell you to your face what you have done wrong.
v22 Now, everyone that forgets God, think about this,
or I will tear you into pieces.
No one will save you.
v23 Anyone that offers me thanks is giving me *praise.
They that live the right way will see that God will make them safe.
The Story of Psalm 50
Asaph was one of King David’s music leaders. Either Asaph wrote this psalm, or someone wrote it for him. Or perhaps someone wrote it long after his death, for singers that lived after him. The psalm is very *like Isaiah 1:11-20, and Micah 6:6-9. Isaiah and Micah wrote their books about 250 years after David and Asaph died. Psalms 73-83 are also psalms of Asaph.
The psalm is a picture of a Court of Law. This is a place where people decide whether someone has done right or wrong. If they have done wrong, the Court can send them to prison, or worse. In the psalm, Israel is in Court. God is telling them what they have done wrong. Everything in the sky and on earth must decide whether Israel has done right or wrong. God says that they have done wrong and that he will *punish them if they do not obey him.
What Psalm 50 means
In Exodus 20:2-17 are 10 important rules. We call them the Ten Commandments. A commandment is a rule that you must obey. The first 4 rules are about what people should do for God; the last 6 rules are about what people should do for other people. The psalm is in 4 parts:
Verses 1 – 6: God calls everybody to his Court of Law.
Verses 7 – 15: God says that they have not obeyed the first 4 rules.
Verses 16 – 21: God says that they have not obeyed the last 6 rules.
Verses 22 – 23: God will *punish people that do not obey him. He will give help to those that obey him.
Verses 1 – 6: When does God call everybody to his Court of Law?
Remember, a Court of Law is where people decide if someone has done right or wrong. But this Court is not in a building, but in the whole world! So, when does God call everybody to his Court? To answer this we must know something about Hebrew words. Asaph or his friends wrote the psalm in Hebrew. This was their language. But there is something strange about Hebrew verbs. A verb is a "doing word", *like "speak", or "sing", or "eat". In English we say "he spoke" if he has done it; "he speaks" if he is still doing it; or "he will speak" if he will do it tomorrow or next week. These 3 examples are past, present (now) and future. But in Hebrew there is no past, present and future.
So, in verse 1, we could translate it 3 ways:
1) The *LORD has spoken (in the past)
2) The *LORD is speaking (now)
3) The *LORD will speak (in the future).
So, when does God call people to his Court of Law? The answer is that all three ways of translating verses 1-4 are right! He called the people of Israel before him in the past, hundreds of years ago. He is calling them when they read the psalm … or us when we read the psalm today. And he will call everybody when the world comes to an end. We call this last Court of Law The Last *Judgment. (Here, "call" means "asks people to come to".)
Verses 7 – 15: This part of the psalm is about what we should do for God.
There are 4 important rules in Exodus 20, but there are more in Leviticus. It is one of these that God talks about in the psalm. Though he only talks about one rule, we believe that he meant all the rules in this group.
In verses 7-15 God talks about people *sacrificing animals to him. The *priest killed an animal and burnt part of it. The *priest was a special servant of God in one of the *temples that the Jews had. The *temples were buildings where they met with God. They could not see God, but they believed that he would hear them in the *temples when they prayed. The most important *temple was in Jerusalem, but there were others in Nob, Shiloh and other places. In these verses, God is saying that there is nothing wrong in *sacrificing animals. But God does not need the meat of *sacrifices so it is better just to say "thanks" to God! Then he will answer them when they pray to him for help.
Verses 16 – 21: This part of the psalm is about what we should do to the people we meet. The last 6 rules tell us about this, and many other rules in Leviticus. We must not only repeat the rules of God, and talk about his *covenant, we must obey the rules! Again, the psalm only talks about a few of the rules, but it means all the others as well. The few are just examples.
· We must not take other people’s things (verse 18)
· We must not have sex with someone that we have not married (18)
· We must not say bad things (19) about our family (20).
In verse 17, "put my words behind you" means that they did not obey them.
Verse 20 is a good example of Hebrew poetry. The two parts of the verse mean the same. Poetry is a special way of writing words. In verse 21, "to your face" means "to you, with nobody between us".
Verses 22 – 23: If people forget these rules, God will not make them safe. He will save those that:
· say "thanks" to him (rules 1-4)
· live the right way (rules 5-10).
We called this psalm, "*Judgment begins at the house of God". These are words of *Saint Peter. You will find them in 1 Peter 4:17. It means that God starts telling people in a country who is right and who is wrong with the Church. But he does not stop there. At the end, everybody must go to the Last *Judgment. In the psalm, God started with his people, the Jews. But he finished in these two verses with everybody.