Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
<> The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
The theophany. The names of God are heaped up in Psalm 50:1 in order to gain a thoroughly full-toned exordium for the description of God as the Judge of the world. Hupfeld considers this heaping up cold and stiff; but it is exactly in accordance with the taste of the Elohimic style. The three names are co-ordinate with one another; for אל אלהים does not mean "God of gods," which would rather be expressed by אלהי האלהים or אל אלים. אל is the name for God as the Almighty; אלהים as the Revered One; יהוה as the Being, absolute in His existence, and who accordingly freely influences and moulds history after His own plan - this His peculiar proper-name is the third in the triad. Perfects alternate in Psalm 50:1 with futures, at one time the idea of that which is actually taking place, and at another of that which is future, predominating. Jahve summons the earth to be a witness of the divine judgment upon the people of the covenant. The addition "from the rising of the sun to its going down," shows that the poet means the earth in respect of its inhabitants. He speaks, and because what He speaks is of universal significance He makes the earth in all its compass His audience. This summons precedes His self-manifestation. It is to be construed, with Aquila, the Syriac, Jerome, Tremellius, and Montanus, "out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, Elohim shineth." Zion, the perfect in beauty (cf. the dependent passage Lamentations 2:15, and 1 Macc. 2:12, where the temple is called ἡ καλλονὴ ἡμῶν), because the place of the presence of God the glorious One, is the bright spot whence the brightness of the divine manifestation spreads forth like the rising sun. In itself certainly it is not inappropriate, with the lxx, Vulgate, and Luther, to take מכלל־יפי as a designation of the manifestation of Elohim in His glory, which is the non pius ultra of beauty, and consequently to be explained according to Ezekiel 28:12, cf. Exodus 33:19, and not according to Lamentations 2:15 (more particularly since Jeremiah so readily gives a new turn to the language of older writers). But, taking the fact into consideration that nowhere in Scripture is beauty (יפי) thus directly predicated of God, to whom peculiarly belongs a glory that transcends all beauty, we must follow the guidance of the accentuation, which marks מכלל־יפי by Mercha as in apposition with ציּון (cf. Psychol. S. 49; tr. p. 60). The poet beholds the appearing of God, an appearing that resembles the rising of the sun (הופיע, as in the Asaph Psalm 80:2, after Deuteronomy 33:2, from יפע, with a transition of the primary notion of rising, Arab. yf‛, wf‛, to that of beaming forth and lighting up far and wide, as in Arab. sṭ‛); for "our God will come and by no means keep silence." It is not to be rendered: Let our God come (Hupfeld) and not keep silence (Olshausen). The former wish comes too late after the preceding הופיע (יבא is consequently veniet, and written as e.g., in Psalm 37:13), and the latter is superfluous. אל, as in Psalm 34:6; Psalm 41:3, Isaiah 2:9, and frequently, implies in the negative a lively interest on the part of the writer: He cannot, He dare not keep silence, His glory will not allow it. He who gave the Law, will enter into judgment with those who have it and do not keep it; He cannot long look on and keep silence. He must punish, and first of all by word in order to warn them against the punishment by deeds. Fire and storm are the harbingers of the Lawgiver of Sinai who now appears as Judge. The fire threatens to consume the sinners, and the storm (viz., a tempest accompanied with lightning and thunder, as in Job 38:1) threatens to drive them away like chaff. The expression in Psalm 50:3 is like Psalm 18:9. The fem. Niph. נשׂערה does not refer to אשׁ, but is used as neuter: it is stormed, i.e., a storm rages (Apollinaris, ἐλαιλαπίσθη σφόδρα). The fire is His wrath; and the storm the power or force of His wrath.
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.
The judgment scene. To the heavens above (מעל, elsewhere a preposition, here, as in Genesis 27:39; Genesis 49:25, an adverb, desuper, superne) and to the earth God calls (קרא אל, as, e.g., Genesis 28:1), to both לדין עמּו, in order to sit in judgment upon His people in their presence, and with them as witnesses of His doings. Or is it not that they are summoned to attend, but that the commission, Psalm 50:5, is addressed to them (Olshausen, Hitzig)? Certainly not, for the act of gathering is not one that properly belongs to the heavens and the earth, which, however, because they exist from the beginning and will last for ever, are suited to be witnesses (Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2, 1 Macc. 2:37). The summons אספוּ is addressed, as in Matthew 24:31, and frequently in visions, to the celestial spirits, the servants of the God here appearing. The accused who are to be brought before the divine tribunal are mentioned by names which, without their state of mind and heart corresponding to them, express the relationship to Himself in which God has placed them (cf. Deuteronomy 32:15; Isaiah 42:19). They are called חסידים, as in the Asaph Psalm 79:2. This contradiction between their relationship and their conduct makes an undesigned but bitter irony. In a covenant relationship, consecrated and ratified by a covenant sacrifice (עלי־זבח similar to Psalm 92:4; Psalm 10:10), has God placed Himself towards them (Exodus 24); and this covenant relationship is also maintained on their part by offering sacrifices as an expression of their obedience and of their fidelity. The participle כּרתי here implies the constant continuance of that primary covenant-making. Now, while the accused are gathered up, the poet hears the heavens solemnly acknowledge the righteousness of the Judge beforehand. The participial construction שׁפט הוּא, which always, according to the connection, expresses the present (Nahum 1:2), or the past (Judges 4:4), or the future (Jeremiah 25:31), is in this instance an expression of that which is near at hand (fut. instans). הוּא has not the sense of ipse (Ew. 314, a), for it corresponds to the "I" in אני שׁפט or הנני שׁפט; and כּי is not to be translated by nam (Hitzig), for the fact that God intends to judge requires no further announcement. On the contrary, because God is just now in the act of sitting in judgment, the heavens, the witnesses most prominent and nearest to Him, bear witness to His righteousness. The earthly music, as the סלה directs, is here to join in with the celestial praise. Nothing further is now wanting to the completeness of the judgment scene; the action now begins.
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
Exposition of the sacrificial Tra for the good of those whose holiness consists in outward works. The forms strengthened by ah, in Psalm 50:7, describe God's earnest desire to have Israel for willing hearers as being quite as strong as His desire to speak and to bear witness. העיד בּ, obtestari aliquem, to come forward as witness, either solemnly assuring, or, as here and in the Psalm of Asaph, Psalm 81:9, earnestly warning and punishing (cf. Arab. šahida with b, to bear witness against any one). On the Dagesh forte conjunctive in בּך, vid., Ges. ֗20, 2, a. He who is speaking has a right thus to stand face to face with Israel, for he is Elohim, the God of Israel - by which designation reference is made to the words אנכי יהוה אלהיך (Exodus 20:2), with which begins the Law as given from Sinai, and which here take the Elohimic form (whereas in Psalm 81:11 they remain unaltered) and are inverted in accordance with the context. As Psalm 50:8 states, it is not the material sacrifices, which Israel continually, without cessation, offers, that are the object of the censuring testimony. ועולתיך, even if it has Mugrash, as in Baer, is not on this account, according to the interpretation given by the accentuation, equivalent to ועל־עולותיך (cf. on the other hand Psalm 38:18); it is a simple assertory substantival clause: thy burnt-offerings are, without intermission, continually before Me. God will not dispute about sacrifices in their outward characteristics; for - so Psalm 50:9 go on to say-He does not need sacrifices for the sake of receiving from Israel what He does not otherwise possess. His is every wild beast (חיתו, as in the Asaph Psalm 79:2) of the forest, His the cattle בּהררי אלף, upon the mountains of a thousand, i.e., upon the thousand (and myriad) mountains (similar to מתי מספּר or מתי מעט), or: where they live by thousands (a similar combination to נבל עשׂור). Both explanations of the genitive are unsupported by any perfectly analogous instance so far as language is concerned; the former, however, is to be preferred on account of the singular, which is better suited to it. He knows every bird that makes its home on the mountains; ידע, as usually, of a knowledge which masters a subject, compasses it and makes it its own. Whatever moves about the fields if with Him, i.e., is within the range of His knowledge (cf. Job 27:11; Psalm 10:13), and therefore of His power; זיז (here and in the Asaph Psalm 80:14) from זאזא equals זעזע, to move to and fro, like טיט from טיטע, to swept out, cf. κινώπετον, κνώδαλον, from κινεῖν. But just as little as God requires sacrifices in order thereby to enrich Himself, is there any need on His part that might be satisfied by sacrifices, Psalm 50:12. If God should hunger, He would not stand in need of man's help in order to satisfy Himself; but He is never hungry, for He is the Being raised above all carnal wants. Just on this account, what God requires is not by any means the outward worship of sacrifice, but a spiritual offering, the worship of the heart, Psalm 50:14. Instead of the שׁלמים, and more particularly זבח תּודה, Leviticus 7:11-15, and שׁלמי נדר, Leviticus 7:16 (under the generic idea of which are also included, strictly speaking, vowed thank-offerings), God desires the thanksgiving of the heart and the performance of that which has been vowed in respect of our moral relationship to Himself and to men; and instead of the עולה in its manifold forms of devotion, the prayer of the heart, which shall not remain unanswered, so that in the round of this λογικὴ λατρεία everything proceeds from and ends in εὐχαριστία. It is not the sacrifices offered in a becoming spirit that are contrasted with those offered without the heart (as, e.g., Sir. 32 :1-9), but the outward sacrifice appears on the whole to be rejected in comparison with the spiritual sacrifice. This entire turning away from the outward form of the legal ceremonial is, in the Old Testament, already a predictive turning towards that worship of God in spirit and in truth which the new covenant makes alone of avail, after the forms of the Law have served as swaddling clothes to the New Testament life which was coming into being in the old covenant. This "becoming" begins even in the Tra itself, especially in Deuteronomy. Our Psalm, like the Chokma (Proverbs 21:3), and prophecy in the succeeding age (cf. Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Isaiah 1:11-15, and other passages), stands upon the standpoint of this concluding book of the Tra, which traces back all the requirements of the Law to the fundamental command of love.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
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?
The accusation of the manifest sinners. It is not those who are addressed in Psalm 50:7, as Hengstenberg thinks, who are here addressed. Even the position of the words ולרשׁע אמר clearly shows that the divine discourse is now turned to another class, viz., to the evil-doers, who, in connection with open and manifest sins and vices, take the word of God upon their lips, a distinct class from those who base their sanctity upon outward works of piety, who outwardly fulfil the commands of God, but satisfy and deceive themselves with this outward observance. מה־לּך ל, what hast thou, that thou equals it belongs not to thee, it does not behove thee. With ועתּה, in Psalm 50:17, an adversative subordinate clause beings: since thou dost not care to know anything of the moral ennobling which it is the design of the Law to give, and my words, instead of having them as a constant test-line before thine eyes, thou castest behind thee and so turnest thy back upon them (cf. Isaiah 38:17). ותּרץ is not from רוּץ (lxx, Targum, and Saadia), in which case it would have to be pointed ותּרץ, but from רצה, and is construed here, as in Job 34:9, with עם: to have pleasure in intercourse with any one. In Psalm 50:18 the transgression of the eighth commandment is condemned, in Psalm 50:18 that of the seventh, in Psalm 50:19. that of the ninth (concerning the truthfulness of testimony). שׁלח פּה ברעה, to give up one's mouth unrestrainedly to evil, i.e., so that evil issues from it. תּשׁב, Psalm 50:20, has reference to gossiping company (cf. Psalm 1:1). דּפי signifies a thrust, a push (cf. הדף), after which the lxx renders it ἐτίθεις σκάνδαλον (cf. Leviticus 19:14), but it also signifies vexation and mockery (cf. גּדף); it is therefore to be rendered: to bring reproach (Jerome, opprobrium) upon any one, to cover him with dishonour. The preposition בּ with דּבּר has, just as in Numbers 12:1, and frequently, a hostile signification. "Thy mother's son" is he who is born of the same mother with thyself, and not merely of the same father, consequently thy brother after the flesh in the fullest sense. What Jahve says in this passage is exactly the same as that which the apostle of Jesus Christ says in Romans 2:17-24. This contradiction between the knowledge and the life of men God must, for His holiness' sake, unmask and punish, Psalm 50:20. The sinner thinks otherwise: God is like himself, i.e., that is also not accounted by God as sin, which he allows himself to do under the cloak of his dead knowledge. For just as a man is in himself, such is his conception also of his God (vid., Psalm 18:26.). But God will not encourage this foolish idea: "I will therefore reprove thee and set (it) in order before thine eyes" (ואערכה, not ואערכה, in order to give expression, the second time at least, to the mood, the form of which has been obliterated by the suffix); He will set before the eyes of the sinner, who practically and also in theory denies the divine holiness, the real state of his heart and life, so that he shall be terrified at it. Instead of היה, the infin. intensit. here, under the influence of the close connection of the clauses (Ew. 240, c), is היות; the oratio obliqua begins with it, without כּי (quod). כמוך exactly corresponds to the German deines Gleichen, thine equal.
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.
Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Epilogue of the divine discourse. Under the name שׁכחי אלוהּ are comprehended the decent or honourable whose sanctity relies upon outward works, and those who know better but give way to licentiousness; and they are warned of the final execution of the sentence which they have deserved. In dead works God delighteth not, but whoso offereth thanksgiving (viz., not shelamim-tôda, but the tôda of the heart), he praises Him
(Note: In Vedic jag', old Bactrian jaz (whence jag'jas, the primitive word of ἅγιος), the notions of offering and of praising lie one within the other.)
and שׂם דּרך. It is unnecessary with Luther, following the lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac versions, to read שׁם. The Talmudic remark אל תקרי ושׂם אלא ושׁם [do not read ושׂם, but ושׁם] assumes ושׂם to be the traditional reading. If we take שׂם דּרך as a thought complete in itself, - which is perfectly possible in a certain sense (vid., Isaiah 43:19), - then it is best explained according to the Vulgate (qui ordinat viam), with Bצttcher, Maurer, and Hupfeld: viam h. e. recta incedere (legel agere) parans; but the expression is inadequate to express this ethical sense (cf. Proverbs 4:26), and consequently is also without example. The lxx indicates the correct idea in the rendering καὶ ἐκεῖ ὁδὸς ᾗ δείξω αὐτῷ τὸ σωτήριον Θεοῦ. The ושׂם דוך (designedly not pointed דּרך), which standing entirely by itself has no definite meaning, receives its requisite supplement by means of the attributive clause that follows. Such an one prepares a way along which I will grant to him to see the salvation of Elohim, i.e., along which I will grant him a rapturous vision of the full reality of My salvation. The form יכבּדנני is without example elsewhere. It sounds like the likewise epenthetical יקראנני, Proverbs 1:28, cf. Proverbs 8:17, Hosea 5:15, and may be understood as an imitation of it as regards sound. יכבּדנני ( equals יכבּדני) is in the writer's mind as the form out of pause (Ges. ֗58, 4). With Psalm 50:23 the Psalm recurs to its central point and climax, Psalm 50:14. What Jahve here discourses in a post-Sinaitic appearing, is the very same discourse concerning the worthlessness of dead works and concerning the true will of God that Jesus addresses to the assembled people when He enters upon His ministry. The cycle of the revelation of the Gospel is linked to the cycle of the revelation of the Law by the Sermon on the Mount; this is the point at which both cycles touch.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.