If you are keeping up with your daily Bible reading and are using the great resource from F. LaGard Smith’s The Daily Bible, you are enjoying reading through the Psalms. After trudging through Leviticus and Numbers, and then stomaching the difficult record of the fighting and killing during the times of Joshua, the Judges, and David, it is a welcome breath of fresh air to read through the beautiful poetry in the Psalms.
However, if you are reading closely, you are recognizing, as we saw in our recent sermon series, that the psalmists, like any artist worth their salt, can be just as challenging with their brutal honesty in expressing their feelings about what they are experiencing. This is certainly true in the readings of April 27th, which include these words from Psalm 50. They are meant to challenge God’s people today, the church, just as much as they challenged God’s people in the days of the psalmists. The strong words of the psalmist call us to cast aside our arrogance and pride in our correct external worship and consider the genuineness of our hearts and the faithfulness of our lives. They condemn the way we speak against our own brethren when we use our tongues for evil, deceit and slander. They call on us to take a step back for a moment and evaluate our lives, our beliefs, and our practices. They call on us to ask ourselves, “Are the things that seem so important to me the same things that are the most important to God? Or have I missed it somewhere?”
The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth…He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. “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…Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver, and you will honor me.” But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother, and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face. Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”