Psalm 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.
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(1) The mighty God, even the Lord.—Heb., El Elohîm, Jehovah, a combination of the Divine names that has been very variously understood. The Authorised Version follows the rendering of Aquila and Symmachus. But the Masoretic accents are in favour of taking each term as an appellative. Hitzig objects that this is stiff, but it is so on purpose. The poet introduces his vision of judgment in the style of a formal royal proclamation, as the preterite tenses also indicate. But as in this case it is not the earthly monarch, but the Divine, who is “Lord also of the whole earth,” the range of the proclamation is not territorial, “from Dan even unto Beersheba,” as in 2Chronicles 30:5, but is couched in larger terms, “from sunrise to sunset,” an expression constantly used of the operation of Divine power and mercy. (Comp. Psalm 103:12; Psalm 113:3; Isaiah 41:25; Isaiah 45:6.)

Psalm 50:1. The mighty God, even the Lord — Hebrew. Eel Elohim, Jehovah; the God of gods; Jehovah; the supreme Lord of heaven and earth, the Lawgiver and Judge of men and angels; to whom the greatest kings and potentates are but subjects; the infinite, the eternal, who changes not; hath spoken and called the earth, &c. — Hath given forth his orders, that all the inhabitants of the earth, from one end to the other, should appear before him. These he now summons to be witnesses of his proceedings in this solemn judgment, between him and his people, which is here poetically represented. For here is a tribunal erected, the judge coming to it, the witnesses and delinquents summoned, and at last the sentence given, and cause determined.

50:1-6 This psalm is a psalm of instruction. It tells of the coming of Christ and the day of judgment, in which God will call men to account; and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of judgement. All the children of men are concerned to know the right way of worshipping the Lord, in spirit and in truth. In the great day, our God shall come, and make those hear his judgement who would not hearken to his law. Happy are those who come into the covenant of grace, by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice, and show the sincerity of their love by fruits of righteousness. When God rejects the services of those who rest in outside performances, he will graciously accept those who seek him aright. It is only by sacrifice, by Christ, the great Sacrifice, from whom the sacrifices of the law derived what value they had, that we can be accepted of God. True and righteous are his judgments; even sinners' own consciences will be forced to acknowledge the righteousness of God.The mighty God, even the Lord - Even "Yahweh," for this is the original word. The Septuagint and Vulgate render this "The God of gods, the Lord." DeWette renders it, "God, God Jehovah, speaks." Prof. Alexander, "The Almighty, God, Jehovah, speaks;" and remarks that the word "mighty" is not an adjective agreeing with the next word ("the mighty God"), but a substantive in apposition with it. The idea is, that he who speaks is the true God; the Supreme Ruler of the universe. It is "that" God who has a right to call the world to judgment, and who has power to execute his will.

Hath spoken - Or rather, "speaks." That is, the psalmist represents him as now speaking, and as calling the world to judgment.

And called the earth - Addressed all the inhabitants of the world; all dwellers on the earth.

From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof - From the place where the sun seems to rise, to the place where it seems to set; that is, all the world. Compare the notes at Isaiah 59:19. See also Malachi 1:11; Psalm 113:3. The call is made to all the earth; to all the human race. The scene is imaginary as represented by the psalmist, but it is founded on a true representation of what will occur - of the universal judgment, when all nations shall be summoned to appear before the final Judge. See Matthew 25:32; Revelation 20:11-14.


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).

1 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.

Psalm 50:1

"The mighty God, even the Lord" - El, Elohim, Jehovah, three glorious names for the God of Israel. To render the address the more impressive, these august titles are mentioned, just as in royal decrees the names and dignities of monarchs are placed in the forefront. Here the true God is described as Almighty, as the only and perfect object of adoration and as the self-existent One, "Hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof." The dominion of Jehovah extends over the whole earth, and therefore to all mankind is his decree directed. The east and the west are bidden to hear the God who makes his sun to rise on every quarter of the globe. Shall the summons of the great King be despised? Will we dare provoke him to anger by slighting his call?

Psalm 50:2

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his splendour are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most conspicuous among his own elect, but it is not confined to them; the church is not a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her. She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling and that beauty is seen by all observers when the Lord shines forth from her.

Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.

Psalm 50:3

"Our God shall come." The Psalmist speaks of himself and his brethren as standing in immediate anticipation of the appearing of the Lord upon the scene. "He comes," they say, "our covenant God is coming;" they can hear his voice from afar, and perceive the splendour of his attending train. Even thus should we wait the long-promised appearing of the Lord from heaven. "And shall not keep silence." He comes to speak, to plead with his people, to accuse and judge the ungodly. He has been silent long in patience, but soon he will speak with power. What a moment of awe when the Omnipotent is expected to reveal himself! What will be the reverent joy and solemn expectation when the poetic scene of this Psalm becomes in the last great day an actual reality! "A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him." Flame and hurricane are frequently described as the attendants of the divine appearance. "Our God is a consuming fire." "At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hailstones and coals of fire." Psalm 18:12. "He rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind." "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God." 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Fire is the emblem of justice in action, and the tempest is a token of his overwhelming power. Who will not listen in solemn silence when such is the tribunal from which the judge pleads with heaven and earth?

Psalm 50:4

continued...THE ARGUMENT

The design of this Psalm is, partly, to reprove and protest against the common miscarriages of many professors of religion, who satisfied their own consciences, and fancied that they pleased God, with their external and ceremonial performances, notwithstanding their gross neglect of those more necessary and fundamental duties of piety, and justice, and charity; partly, to instruct men concerning the nature of the true and acceptable worship of God; and partly, to prepare the Israelites for, and tacitly warn them of, that change which would be made in the outward form and way of God’s worship under and by the Messias, and of the abolition of the legal sacrifices, which God did not appoint for his own need, nor for his people’s perpetual use.

Asaph was not only the chief of the sacred singers, 1 Chronicles 15 1Ch 16 1 Chronicles 25:2, but also a prophet, 1 Chronicles 25:1, and a composer of some Psalms, as it is apparent from 2 Chronicles 29:30, and therefore, as is most probable, of those that go under his name.

God cometh with great majesty into his church, Psalm 50:1-4, and gathereth together his saints, Psalm 50:5,6; testifieth he has no pleasure in ceremonies, Psalm 50:7-13, but in sincerity of obedience, Psalm 50:14,15; threateneth the wicked for contemning his word, Psalm 50:16-22, and showeth who it is that glorifieth him, Psalm 50:23.

i.e. All the inhabitants of the earth, from one end to the other; whom he here summons to be witnesses of his proceedings in this solemn judgment between him and his people, which is here poetically represented; for here is a tribunal erected, the judge coming to it, the witnesses and delinquents summoned, and at last the sentence given, and cause determined.

The mighty God,.... In the Hebrew text it is "El", "Elohim", which Jarchi renders the "God of gods"; that is, of angels, who are so called, Psalm 8:5; so Christ, who is God over all, is over them; he is their Creator, and the object of their worship, Hebrews 1:6; or of kings, princes, judges, and all civil magistrates, called gods, Psalm 82:1; and so Kimchi interprets the phrase here "Judge of judges". Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, by whom they reign and judge, and to whom they are accountable. The Targum renders it "the mighty God"; as we do; which is the title and name of Christ in Isaiah 9:6; and well agrees with him, as appears by his works of creation, providence, and redemption, and by his government of his church and people; by all the grace, strength, assistance, and preservation they have from him now, and by all that glory and happiness they will be brought unto by him hereafter, when raised from the dead, according to his mighty power. It is added,

even the Lord, hath spoken: or "Jehovah", Some have observed, that these three names, El, Elohim, Jehovah, here mentioned, have three very distinctive accents set to them, and which being joined to a verb singular, "hath spoken", contains the mystery of the trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine Essence; see Joshua 22:22; though rather all the names belong to Christ the Son of God, and who is Jehovah our righteousness, and to whom, he being the eternal Logos, speech is very properly ascribed. He hath spoken for the elect in the council and covenant of grace and peace, that they might be given to him; and on their behalf, that they might have grace and glory, and he might be their Surety, Saviour, and Redeemer. He hath spoken all things out of nothing in creation: he spoke with. Moses at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai: he, the Angel of God's presence, spoke for the Old Testament saints, and spoke good and comfortable words unto them: he hath spoken in his own person here on earth, and such words and with such authority as never man did; and he has spoken in his judgments and providences against the Jews; and he now speaks in his Gospel by his ministers: wherefore it follows,

and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof; which may be considered as a preface, exciting attention to what is after spoken, as being of moment and importance; see Deuteronomy 32:1; or as calling the earth, and so the heavens, Psalm 50:4, to be witnesses of the justness and equity of his dealings with the Jews, for their rejection of him and his Gospel; see Deuteronomy 4:26; or rather as a call to the inhabitants of the earth to hear the Gospel; which had its accomplishment in the times of the apostles; when Christ having a people, not in Judea only, but in the several parts of the world from east to west, sent them into all the world with his Gospel, and by it effectually called them through his grace; and churches were planted everywhere to the honour of his name; compare with this Malachi 1:11.

<{a} Asaph.>> The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the {b} earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.

(a) Who was either the author, or a chief singer, to whom it was committed.

(b) To plead against his deceitful people before heaven and earth.

1. The mighty God, even the Lord] El Elohim Jehovah. The three names, representing three aspects of the Divine character, are combined to emphasise the majesty of Him with Whom Israel has to do. El represents Him as the Mighty One; Elôhîm perhaps (the original meaning is doubtful) as the Awful One in Whom are united all manifold excellences of Deity; Jehovah as the Self-revealing One. Elôhîm is His name as the God of nature and creation: Jehovah as the God of the covenant and of grace. The same threefold combination is found, twice repeated, in Joshua 22:22, in the solemn asseveration by the trans-Jordanic tribes of their innocence of any wrong motive in erecting the altar of Witness. It occurs nowhere else in exactly the same form, but similar combinations are found. See Genesis 33:20; Genesis 46:3, “El, the God of thy father”; Deuteronomy 4:31, “Jehovah thy God (Elohim) is a merciful God” (El); Deuteronomy 5:9, “I Jehovah thy God (Elohim) am a jealous God” (El); and similarly Deuteronomy 6:15; Deuteronomy 7:9, “Jehovah thy God, he is God (Elohim); the faithful God” (El).

It is noteworthy that two other names of God occur in this Ps. He is called ‘the Most High’ (Elyôn), as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe (Psalm 50:14), cp. Psalm 7:17; Psalm 18:13; and see Appendix, Note ii. In Psalm 50:22, Elôah, the singular of Elôhim, is used. This form is found frequently in Job; in Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:17; Isaiah 44:8; Habakkuk 1:11; Habakkuk 3:3; and in a few other passages; but elsewhere in the Psalter only in Psalm 18:31; Psalm 114:7; Psalm 139:19.

The rendering The God of gods, the Lord (Jehovah), is not probable, though its adoption by the LXX has given it a wide currency.

hath spoken] In the summons which the next line describes. He breaks the silence which has been misunderstood to mean indifference (Psalm 50:21) by proclaiming a great assize.

and called the earth] The earth in all its length and breadth, with all its inhabitants, is summoned to be the witness of the trial.

1–6. A solemn introduction, describing the Advent of Jehovah to judge His people. Of old He appeared at Sinai in the midst of lightnings and storm to give the Law: now He comes forth from Zion with the same tokens of power and majesty to enforce it.

Verse 1. - The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken. A combination of three names of God - viz. El, Elohim, and Jehovah - only found here and in Joshua 22:22. There it is translated "the Lord God of gods," which is a possible rendering. Separately, the three names seem to mean, "The Mighty One," "The Many in One" (Cheyne) or "The Three in One," and '"The Self-Existent One." He who is all these, the psalmist announces, "has spoken," and called (or, summoned) the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof; i.e. God has summoned all mankind to hear his judgment of his covenant people. Psalm 50:1The 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.
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