It's been a while since I mentioned it...but about a year ago, I talked about how I was going to re-read the Psalms. I wasn't going to commit to read one every day or one a day. I had simply been challenged to read them again and take time to listen. Well, today, I came to Psalm 50. I thought I'd share something with you.
In verses 1-4 of the Psalm, God is talking about judgment. On first reading, it would be easy to get excited and think, finally, God is about to take care of the evil in the world. But read the following verses that are found a little later in the Psalm.
"Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." Psalm 50:7-15 NIV
Did you catch where God begins His judgment? Not with the adulterer, the skeptics, or the ones who denied His existence. He's not starting with the dictator who has killed thousands or the pro-death people who have killed millions of babies. No, God reserves His initial indignation for...you and me, the Christ followers. He's most upset by the hypocrisy of our religious acts--doing one thing before Him and something entirely different before men. I think His frustration is pointed most at one ironic part of our lives...we think God needs us. We've repainted the pictures of history to show a God who is weak and anemic against evil, poor in His benevolence and even poorer in His power.
Shame on us. Truly. To believe that what I am or what I have somehow makes God a better deity. Understand this, God's desire to have a relationship with us is not because He needs anything from us. Rather, it is because we so desperately need Him! And because He is a loving God, He extends Himself to us. Read that last verse again. What an amazing promise from a gracious God to a people who, frankly, do not deserve such mercy.
...fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." Psalm 50:15 NIV