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Psalms 50:1 « 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.
A Psalm of Asaph ] Who was both a music master, 1 Chronicles 25:2 , and a psalm composer, 2 Chronicles 29:30 . The most are of the opinion that this psalm was made by David, and committed to Asaph to be sung, after that Israel had been afflicted with three years’ famine and three days’ pestilence, and the angel had appeared to David, and set out the place where the temple should be built, 2 Samuel 21:1-3 2 Samuel 24:13-18 1 Chronicles 21:18 ; 1 Chronicles 22:4 (Jun.).
Ver. 1. The mighty God, even the Lord ] Heb. The God of gods, whether they be so deputed, as angels, magistrates; or reputed only, as heathen deities, 1 Corinthians 8:5 . Jehovah or Essentiator, is God’s proper name. Some say God is here thrice named, to note the Trinity in Unity (R. Nahum ap. Nebien).
Hath spoken ] sc. By the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, spoke much like, Judges 1:14 . The Rabbis say that this psalm is De die iudicii futuro, of the day of judgment. Others, that it is the Lord’s judging of his Church, drawn according to the model of the great and last judgment, whereunto it serveth as a preparation or a warning piece.
And called the earth from the rising, &c. ] The "habitable part of God’s earth; the sons of men," Proverbs 8:31 , with Malachi 1:11 . These are all called to attest the equity of God’s proceedings against a hypocritical nation, children that were corrupters. For God hath thus far instructed all men, that he is to be honoured of all, with all manner of observance, Romans 1:20 . Let this be pressed upon all sorts, said Zalcucus the Locrian lawgiver, in the preface to his laws 1. That there is a God. 2. That this God is to be duly worshipped.
Psa 50:2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Ver. 2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty ] Heb. the whole perfection, or the universality of beauty, Perfectissimae pulchritudinis locus (Trem.); because there especially was God’s glory set forth in his holy ordinances, and more clearly manifested than in all his handiwork besides. See Psalms 48:2 .
God hath shined ] Like the sun in his strength, sometimes for the comfort of his people, as Psalms 80:1 ; sometimes for the terror of evildoers, as Psalms 94:1 , and here. But evermore God is terrible out of his holy places, Psalms 68:35 ; Psalms 89:7 .
Psa 50:3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
Ver. 3. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence ] He doth daily come and sit upon the tribunal in his Church by the ministry of his servants, Matthew 18:17 , who must reprove sinners with all authority, and show themselves sons of thunder, that they may save some at least with fear, snatching them out of the fire, Judges 1:23 , as Peter, Acts 2:40 , and Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:11 , but especially when, to work upon the Proconsul Paulus Sergius, he set his eyes upon Elymas the sorcerer, as if he would have looked through him; after which lightning followed that terrible thunder crack, "O thou full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the straight ways of the Lord?" Acts 13:9-10 .
A fire shall devour before him ] As he gave his law in fire, so in fire shall he require it.
And it shall be very tempestuous round about him ] Not before him only, but around him; lest the wicked should hope to escape by creeping behind him. That was a terrible tempest that befell Alexander the Great and his army marching into the country of Pabaza; when, by reason of continual thundering and lightning, with hailstones and lightning bolts, the army was disorganized and wandered any way; many dared not stir out of the place (Curtius, lib. 3, ex Diodor.). Tremellius rendereth it wish wise, but in a parenthesis, Let our Lord come, and let him not be silent. The saints know that they shall be safe, when others shall smoke for it; because God is their God.
Psa 50:4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
Ver. 4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth ] That these dumb creatures may be as so many speaking evidences against an unworthy people, and witnesses of God’s righteous dealings against them. See Deu 32:1 Isa 1:2 Micah 6:2 . The Chaldee thus paraphraseth, He will call the high angels from above; and the just of the earth from beneath.
Psa 50:5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
Ver. 5. Gather my saints together unto me ] This seemeth to be spoken to the angels, those active instrumeuts and executioners of God’s judgments. By saints here understand professors at large, all that live in the bosom of the Church visible, and partake of the external privileges only; such as are in the vine, but bear no fruit, John 15:2 ; have a name to live, but are dead, Revelation 3:1 ; such as whose sanctity consisteth only in covenanting by sacrifice. Basil saith that such are called saints to aggravate their sins; as a man that hath an honourable title, but hath done wickedly; and is, therefore, the rather to be condemned. When one pleaded once with a judge for his life, that he might not be hanged, because he was a gentleman, he told him that therefore he should have the gallows made higher for him.
Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice ] But were never brought by me into the bond of the covenant; for then the rebels would have been purged out from among them, as it is Ezekiel 20:37-38 .
Psa 50:6 And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God [is] judge himself. Selah.
Ver. 6. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness ] Those catholic preachers, whose voice goeth out aloud to the end of the world, Psalms 19:4 ; Psalms 50:4 .
For God is Judge himself ] And from him is no appeal; every transgression and disobedience from him shall receive a just recompense of reward, Hebrews 2:2 , even those corruptions that are most inward, and lie up in the heart of the country, as it were; those pollutions not of flesh only, i.e. worldly lusts and gross evils, but of spirit also, 2 Corinthians 7:1 , more spiritual lusts, as pride, presumption, formality, self-flattery, carnal confidence in external legal worships, the sin principally taxed in this Jewish people here in the next verses.
Psa 50:7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I [am] God, [even] thy God.
Ver. 7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak, &c. ] What sweet and winning language is here for a preface! God’s proceedings against sinners, whom he might confound with his terrors, is with meekness and much mildness, Genesis 3:9 ; Genesis 3:11 ; Genesis 4:9 Matthew 22:11 ; Matthew 26:50 . Be we herein followers of God as dear children, Jos 7:19 Galatians 6:1 2 Timothy 2:19 .
O Israel, I will testify against thee ] i.e. I will expostulate with thee, and convince thee. This is a mercy which the Lord vouchsafed our first parents when they had sinned; the serpent he would not so much as examine, but doomed him presently.
I am God ] And should, therefore, have been better obeyed.
Even thy God ] And, therefore, thou of all others shouldest have had more care, and not have despited me with seeming honours by presenting me with outside services.
Psa 50:8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, [to have been] continually before me.
Ver. 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices ] i.e. For thy neglect of them, but for thy resting in them, sticking in the bark, bringing me the bare shell without the kernel, not referring thy sacrifices to the right end and use; but satisfying thyself in the work done. This was afterwards the sin of the Pharisees, is still of the Papists, and of too many carnal gospellers, who think they have served God, for they have been at church, done their devoir, for they have said their prayers, &c. Yea, many of the better sort among us hold only a certain stint of daily duties, as malt horses their pace, or mill horses their round, that move much, remove little, out of custom or form. Yea, the best find it hard enough to be in duty in respect of performance, and out of duty in respect of dependence; to do all righteousness, and yet to rest in none but Christ’s.
Or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me ] Heb. Thy burnt offerings have been continually before me; so that I am sated with the very sight of them, Isaiah 1:11 ; there God complained that all his senses were wearied, and his soul vexed, by the abundance of their outward ceremonies, but want of moral service.
Psa 50:9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, [nor] he goats out of thy folds.
Ver. 9. I will take no bullock out of thy house, &c. ] q.d. Keep them to thyself, I need them not; thou settest a high price upon them, and thinkest to ingratiate with me by them; I value them not, nay, I loathe them, Sordet in conspectu Iudicis quod fulget in conspectu operantis. "That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God," Luke 16:15 . Displeasing service is double dishonour.
Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest [is] mine, [and] the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Ver. 10. For every beast of the forest is mine ] God is the great proprietary; and all is his by primitive right. It is but of his own, therefore, that any man giveth him aught; as David freely acknowledgeth, 1 Chronicles 29:14 ; and that great emperor, who, dedicating his rich communion table to Jesus Christ, wrote upon it τα σο εκ των σων σοι προσφερομεν , Thine own, and of thine own, Lord, present we unto thee (Justinian apud Cedren.). And yet vain man is apt to conceit that God is obliged unto him when he offereth unto God any part of his goods.
And the cattle upon a thousand hills ] Or, upon the hills of a thousand owners.
Psa 50:11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field [are] mine.
Ver. 11. I know all the fowls of the mountains ] i.e. In numerato habeo, saith Vatablus, they are always before me ready at my service.
And the wild beasts of the field ] R. Solomon interpreteth it reptiles, the creeping things of the field; others, copiam volucrum in vallibus, the abundance of birds that are up and down the fields and valleys.
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof.
Ver. 12. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee ] I would not employ thee to cater or purvey for me. But it befalls not God to be hungry, as not only heathens held, and, therefore, said that their Jove was gone into Ethiopia to be feasted, but some carnal Jews also, who conceived that a fat sacrifice was as acceptable to God as a fat dinner was to themselves (Homer. Lucian).
For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof ] Quicquid avium volitat, quicquid piscium natat, quicquid ferarum discurrit, as Seneca hath it; all is the Lord’s, he made all, maintaineth all, and may, therefore, at his pleasure make use of any; he needeth not be beholden; but the truth is, he needeth not any such broken supports. See Psalms 24:7 .
Psa 50:13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Ver. 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, &c.? ] q.d. Are you so thick brained as to think so?
Vervecum in patria, crassoque sub aere nati?
No; "He that killeth an ox" (unless he kill his corruptions too) "is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb" (unless he see his own guilt, and be carried out to the immaculate Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world) is "as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation" (unless therewith he offer up himself for a whole burnt sacrifice, Rom 12:1 ) is "as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense" (unless he lift up holy hands in prayer without wrath, and without doubting, 1Ti 2:8 ) is "as if he blessed an idol," Isaiah 66:3 .
Psa 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
Ver. 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving ] That pith of your peace offerings, that sacrifice more acceptable to God than an ox that hath horns and hoofs, Psalms 69:31 . Oh cover God’s altar with the calves of your lips, giving thanks to his name, Hebrews 13:15 .
And pay thy vows unto the Most High ] Say not God a thank only, but do him thanks; the life of thanksgiving is the good life of the thanksgiver. Our praises should be real and substantial: vow and perform to the Lord your God, Psalms 76:11 .
Psa 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Ver. 15. And call upon me ] These two, praising God for what we have, and praying for what we want, do take up the whole duty of man; a holy trade is hereby driven between heaven and earth, and sweet intercourse maintained between God and man.
In the day of trouble ] At any time, but then especially; the time of affliction being the time of supplication; for then we are fittest to call, and then God is readiest to give answer, then we may have anything, Zechariah 13:9 .
I will deliver thee ] It is but ask and have; and surely he is deservedly miserable who will not make himself happy by asking. When there was a speech among some holy men what was the best trade? One answered, beggary; it is the hardest and richest trade (Dr Preston). Common beggary is indeed the easiest and poorest trade; but prayer he meant, it is like the ring given a nobleman in this land by Queen Elizabeth, with this promise, that if he sent that ring to her at any time when he was in distress she would remember and deliver him. He sent it, but it never came to her hands; but prayer never miscarrieth.
And thou shall glorify me ] Servati sumus, ut serviamus, Luke 1:74 . And yet it is ten to one that any returneth, with the leper, to give God the glory of a deliverance. Plerique ut accipiant importuni, donec acceperint inquieti, ubi acceperint ingrati, saith Bernard truly: Most men are importunate that they may receive good at God’s hands, restless till they have it, and are careless to return thanks afterward (De Consid. l. 4). Out upon such an ingratitude, hateful even among heathens.
Psa 50:16 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?
Ver. 16 But unto the wicked God saith ] To the fair professor, but foul sinner, to the hypocrites in Sion, Isaiah 33:14 , to the sacrificing Sodomites, Isaiah 1:10-11 , those that take upon them to be teachers of others לומרים especially, Romans 2:20-21 . Origen, after his foul fall, opening the book and lighting upon this text, was not able to preach, but brake out into abundance of tears.
What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? ] Since they are holy, and ought to be handled by such as are holy, Isaiah 52:11 ; else they are dishonoured, 1 Samuel 2:17 , God’s name blasphemed, Romans 2:23-24 , foul sinners hardened, Matthew 23:15 : Ore loqueris de illis, seal corde odisti (Syr. Interp.). Quid verba audiam cam facta videam? say such; dicta factis erubescunt, saith Tertullian, their practice shameth their profession. And, therefore, to such we may say, as Great Alexander did to one Alexander, a soldier of his, but a coward, Either give up thy name or be a soldier; so may we say to such profligate professors. Or as Archidamus, the Lacedemonian, said to his son, rashly conflicting with the Athenians, Aut viribus adde, aut animis adime; so here, Either add practice, or lay away profession.
Or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? ] Boasting thyself to be one of mine, and blurting out good words, when the root of the matter is not in thee. If that state in story would not hear a good motion from an ill mouth, much less will God.
Psa 50:17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
Ver. 17. Seeing thou hatest instruction ] Or discipline, thou wilt not be brought to live strictly, to exercise godliness; thou refusest to be reformed, hatest to be healed. Bucer and Melancthon framed a form of reformation, with approbation of the peers and states; but the clergy of Cullen rejected it with slander, and said that they would rather live under the Great Turk than under a magistrate that should seek to settle such a reformation (Melch. Adam in Vit. Bucer).
And castest my words behind thee ] They are near in thy mouth, but far from thy reins, Jeremiah 12:2 ; denying in thy life what thou professest with thy lips; Ethiopian like, being white in the mouth only; or as lilies, white, but unsavoury. The Jews at this day show very great respect to the law, which no man may touch but with the right hand, and with a kiss of reverence; no man may carry it behind him, but must lay it next to his heart, in his travel (Schichard). They are enjoined to take up any paper which they see lying on the ground; and the reason is lest haply the name of God be written in the paper, and ignorantly trodden underfoot. Christians, though free from such superstitious curiosity, yet, full of religious care, should observe every tittle in God’s word, lest they should trample upon any. And when corruption boileth (saith a reverend man) think the gospel of Christ, professed by you, lieth prostrate before you; and will ye trample upon that gospel? will ye tread underfoot the blood of the covenant, as if it were a profane thing? Hebrews 10:29 .
Psa 50:18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Ver. 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him ] Mala opera hic memorata sunt in secreto, saith Kimchi. These evils hereafter mentioned are secretly acted by those that pretended to better things, see Eph 5:12 and, therefore, heaven and earth are called to witness against them, Psalms 50:4 . See Jeremiah 20:2-7 Servi ut taceant iumenta loquentur, the very beasts have a verdict to pass upon secret sinners, as the ass upon Balaam, and those horses upon Cardinal Angelot, who was so basely covetous that by a secret way he used to go into his own stable, and steal the oats from them (Pontan. lib. de Prin.).
And hast been partaker with the adulterers ] 1. In thy desire, supposing thyself with them. 2. In thy filthy acts, though closely carried; as the Popish priests, whose rule is, Si non caste, lumen caute.
Psa 50:19 Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
Ver. 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil ] Heb. Thou sendest, the devil borroweth thy mouth, and thou lettest him have it.
And thy tongue frameth deceit ] Heb. joineth, knitteth, compacteth.
Psa 50:20 Thou sittest [and] speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.
Ver. 20. Thou sittest ] In the seat of the scornful, on the ale bench, &c.
And speakest against thy brother ] Thy slanderous tongue, like a mad dog, biteth all it meeteth with; not thy near allies excepted: so inhuman are hypocrites.
Psa 50:21 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.
Ver. 21. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence ] I suffered them, seemed to wink at them, bearing with thine evil manners.
Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself ] A good fellow, an approver, an abetter of thy lewd pranks and practices. Cogitabas quod Ehiah erat sicut tu, so Kimchi reads it. This is the evil use that wicked men make of God’s patience, they transform him into an idol after their own fancy, they have base and bald conceits of him.
But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee ] Thou shalt see them once in their ugly hue, to thy conversion or confusion. Men’s actions are in print in heaven, and unless they make their peace with the Judge in his privy chamber of mercy, and so stop his open judicial proceedings in court, he will one day read them aloud in the ears of all the world. Meanwhile God looketh upon old sins (which he seemed to wink at) as now presently committed (for as there is no beginning of eternity, so no succession), and whatsoever he hath threatened, whatever arrows are in the bow string, will one day fly and hit, and strike deep. Woe be to men! God shall break up that filthy sink of sin that is in them; surely they will then be as little able to bear the stench thereof as Judas was, who sought help of a halter.
Psa 50:22 Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear [you] in pieces, and [there be] none to deliver.
Ver. 22. Now consider this, ye that forget God ] That cast him and his counsels behind your backs, before he awaken your drowsy consciences, and rouse up the lion that lieth sleeping in your bosoms, like Cain’s dog, Genesis 4:7 , with his dog-sleep; and before you come to answer for all, with flames about your ears.
Lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you ] From the wolf a shepherd may rescue his lamb, not so from the hungry lion, Amo 3:12 Isaiah 31:4 . God’s power is irresistible, his punishments unavoidable.
Psa 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God.
Ver. 23. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me ] So his praise be cordial, oral, real, with recognition of my benefits, estimation, retribution; this is the best sacrifice he can bring me.
And to him that ordereth his conversation aright ] That walketh accurately and exactly; walketh as in a frame, treading gingerly, stepping warily, not lifting up one foot till he find sure footing for the other.
I will show the salvation of God ] i.e. Give him a prospect of heaven here, and hereafter a full fruition of it.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 50". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20