Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
<> The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
Ps 50:1-23. In the grandeur and solemnity of a divine judgment, God is introduced as instructing men in the nature of true worship, exposing hypocrisy, warning the wicked, and encouraging the pious.
1-4. The description of this majestic appearance of God resembles that of His giving the law (compare Ex 19:16; 20:18; De 32:1).
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
4. above—literally, "above" (Ge 1:7).
heavens … earth—For all creatures are witnesses (De 4:26; 30:19; Isa 1:2).
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
5. my saints—(Ps 4:3).
a covenant, &c.—alluding to the dividing of a victim of sacrifice, by which covenants were ratified, the parties passing between the divided portions (compare Ge 15:10, 18).
And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
6. The inhabitants of heaven, who well know God's character, attest His righteousness as a judge.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
7. I will testify—that is, for failure to worship aught.
thy God—and so, by covenant as well as creation, entitled to a pure worship.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
8-15. However scrupulous in external worship, it was offered as if they conferred an obligation in giving God His own, and with a degrading view of Him as needing it [Ps 50:9-13]. Reproving them for such foolish and blasphemous notions, He teaches them to offer, or literally, "sacrifice," thanksgiving, and pay, or perform, their vows—that is, to bring, with the external symbolical service, the homage of the heart, and faith, penitence, and love. To this is added an invitation to seek, and a promise to afford, all needed help in trouble.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
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?
16-20. the wicked—that is, the formalists, as now exposed, and who lead vicious lives (compare Ro 2:21, 23). They are unworthy to use even the words of God's law. Their hypocrisy and vice are exposed by illustrations from sins against the seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments.
Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.
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.
21, 22. God, no longer (even in appearance) disregarding such, exposes their sins and threatens a terrible punishment.
Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
22. forget God—This denotes unmindfulness of His true character.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
23. offereth praise—(Ps 50:14), so that the external worship is a true index of the heart.
ordereth … aright—acts in a straight, right manner, opposed to turning aside (Ps 25:5). In such, pure worship and a pure life evince their true piety, and they will enjoy God's presence and favor.