Today [Psalm Fifty] Let’s Go Up to Zion. In this chapter we are introduced to Asaph who authored 12 psalms in the bible. Asaph writes prophetically as God speaks to us from Zion. Zion is not just a geographical place in Israel but a spiritual location where we learn and are exposed to God’s glory. Zion is the place where we get delivered from religious culture and immerse in genuine thankfulness and life transformation in the presence of God and the glory of God.
[Psa 50:1-23 KJV] 1 [[A Psalm of Asaph.]] The mighty God, [even] the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. 3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God [is] judge himself. Selah.
In Psalm 50 we see the first mention of the name of Asaph. He is the author of the psalm and a contemporary of king David. He was appointed by David as an assistant to Heman the chief musician. After David’s death and the ascension of Solomon to the throne it was Asaph who performed the dedication of the temple in 2 Chron. 5:12. Asaph is credited with writing twelve psalms altogether. This particular psalm was written 1000 years before the birth of Jesus and deals with the subject of judgment and repentance.
Verse 2 of the psalm tells us that God shines out of Zion. The idea of God “shining” is connected with His glory. The glory or “doxa” according to the New Testament usage is “the out-raying of the divine” or the “effulgence of God”. This is an attribute accorded exclusively to God and it is that which Adam in the fall desired to have for himself – to be “like God” independent of God. This has bearing on our own Christian piety as well in very practical matters of Christian faith. When 1 Tim. 6:10 tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, the original language renders this as “the desire to shine”. Man wants to be like God. It is interesting that this verse is so often misquoted as “money is the root of all evil” – which would suggest that fallen many sees nothing wrong with the desire to shine or to be like God but that he resents the one who does shine legitimately which is God Himself.
God shines out of Zion. What is Zion? We sing about Zion and even in David’s day Zion was a metaphor for something far more sublime than a location in the city of Jerusalem where the kings built their palaces. Zion is uniquely connected with the idea of the rule of God and dominion of God in the earth. The word Zion has a twofold meaning. It means “the parched place” and the “sun-lit place”. It is sun-lit because God shines from Zion. We often pray and sing songs about Zion saying “let’s go up to Zion” but don’t realize we are asking God to bring us into a dry place spiritually. Then we complain to our brothers and sisters how dry we feel spiritually without realizing we asked God to lead us into this place.
What is it about Zion and the glory of God that can cause us to inexplicably experience a dryness in our soul? For Zion to be “sun-lit” implies illumination or revelation. When the two men on the road to Emmaus walked with Jesus they didn’t know who He was until He revealed Himself and vanished away from their sight. So they walked with Jesus in “hiddenness” for a time and then He “manifested” Himself to them. When the presence of God is hidden from us that can be a dry place spiritually that we don’t enjoy. Yet it is necessary for God to teach us and illuminate Himself to us in this way. The end result is always manifestation. The hiddenness is God’s process; the manifestation is His outcome in our lives. This is the meaning of the Zion experience that we all go through as we pursue and seek first the kingdom.
7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I [am] God, [even] thy God. 8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, [to have been] continually before me. 9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, [nor] he goats out of thy folds. 10 For every beast of the forest [is] mine, [and] the cattle upon a thousand hills. 11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field [are] mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof. 13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: 15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
In this psalm God is remonstrating with His people. Verse 8 tells us that God sees the regularity of our outward worship but reminds us that even the sacrifices we obediently bring belong to Him in the first place. In Hebrews 10:5 we see the Messiah declaring to the Father:
[Heb 10:5 KJV] 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
God is not looking for the outward expression of worship or a religious culture. God desires to have a manifestation in the earth of His substance, character and power. This is what the body of Christ is intended to be in the earth. The writer of the psalm is addressing the people who for all their obedience and their robust religious lifestyle – have lost touch with what God is really after in their lives. Verse 14 states clearly what God desires: thankfulness and fidelity to the vows of fidelity that are inherent in the act of accepting Jesus not only as your savior but also your Lord. When we fall into the routine of religious activity we lose sight of being thankful and as the people in psalm 50 we think we are doing God a favor. God is not receiving the sacrifice of ourselves for His own benefit but for ours – that we might be more like Him.
Verse 15 tells us in the context of verse 14 that when we are faithful and thankful we will call upon Him in a day of trouble and He will answer us. When we call upon Him in a day of trouble He will answer us and deliver us. Thus the verse says we will glorify Him. God is glorified not by leaving us in trouble but by delivering us from our trouble. Let me say this again – reading verse 15 in context we see that God is glorified not be leaving us in trouble but by delivering us in trouble. Your testimony has nothing to do with noble suffering but by faith believing and being delivered!
16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or [that] thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. 18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. 19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. 20 Thou sittest [and] speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. 21 These [things] hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether [such an one] as thyself: [but] I will reprove thee, and set [them] in order before thine eyes. 22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear [you] in pieces, and [there be] none to deliver. 23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God.
In verses 16-21 God remonstrates not with the heathen but with His own people for the error of declaring His statutes while violating them all along. The sins that He catalogues here include being unteachable, dishonest, foul mouthed and given to slander against their brothers and sisters. One of the most obnoxious behaviors Christians fall into is slandering one another. Jesus declared that the world would know we belonged to Him and were His disciples by our love one for another. In the gospel of John He taught us:
[Jhn 13:34 KJV] 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Notice that love is a command. That implies discipline. That implies that if it wasn’t a command it wound not be our chosen behavior. The fact of a command means that discipline and enforcement are required and you are expected to supply the initiative and compliance. Love is a command. What quality of love? Jesus qualified the love He is COMMANDING us to have with the words “as I have loved you – love one another”.
In verse 22 we see the consequences of not having a savior. If the people disobeyed they exposed themselves to judgment. The blood of bulls and goats would not shield them. When we as New Testament believers read this verse we must interject the shed blood of Calvary. Even when we fail to live in thanksgiving as loving, sincere believers the righteousness of Christ is our line of last resort. We know we have failed and we run not to a sacrificial altar where an animal is offered up – but to the shed blood Calvary. We ask for forgiveness and cleansing and the grace of God comes to change us and take out of us every character trait that offends God’s heart and helps us become all that He died for us to be in Him.
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