Psalm 50:4
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBTODWESTSK
(4) He shall call.—Better, He calls. The poet actually hears the summons go forth calling heaven and earth as witnesses, or assessors (comp. Micah 6:2), of the judgment scene. (Comp. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Micah 1:2; 1 Maccabees 2:37.)

Israel, politically so insignificant, must have been profoundly conscious of the tremendous issues involved in its religious character to demand a theatre so vast, an audience so august.

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.He shall call to the heavens from above - He will call on all the universe; he will summon all worlds. The meaning here is, not that he will gather those who are in heaven to be judged, but that he will call on the inhabitants of all worlds to be his witnesses; to bear their attestation to the justice of his sentence. See Psalm 50:6. The phrase "from above" does not, of course, refer to the heavens as being above God, but to the heavens as they appear to human beings to be above themselves.

And to the earth - To all the dwellers upon the earth; "to the whole universe." He makes this universal appeal with the confident assurance that his final sentence will be approved; that the universe will see and admit that it is just. See Revelation 15:3; Revelation 19:1-3. There can be no doubt that the universe, as such, will approve the ultimate sentence that will be pronounced on mankind.

That he may judge his people - That is, all these arrangements - this coming with fire and tempest, and this universal appeal - will be prepatory to the judging of his people, or in order that the judgment may be conducted with due solemnity and propriety. The idea is, that an event so momentous should be conducted in a way suited to produce an appropriate impression; so conducted, that there would be a universal conviction of the justice and impartiality of the sentence. The reference here is particularly to his professed "people," that is, to determine whether they were truly his, for that is the main subject of the psalm, though the "language" is derived from the solemnities appropriate to the universal judgment.

4. above—literally, "above" (Ge 1:7).

heavens … earth—For all creatures are witnesses (De 4:26; 30:19; Isa 1:2).

Either to heaven and earth themselves, and so it is a figure called prosopopoeia; or to the inhabitants of them, all angels and men, whom he calls in for witnesses and judges of the equity of his present proceedings. Compare Deu 4:26 Deu 31:28 32:1. That he may judge his people, to wit, in their presence and hearing.

He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth,.... To hear what he shall say, when he will no longer keep silence; and to be witnesses of the justice of his proceedings; see Isaiah 1:2. The Targum interprets this of the angels above on high, and of the righteous on the earth below; and so Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, explain it of the angels of heaven, and of the inhabitants of the earth;

that he may judge his people; not that they, the heavens and the earth, the inhabitants of either, may judge his people; but the Lord himself, as in Psalm 50:6; and this designs not the judgment of the whole world, nor that of his own covenant people, whom he judges when he corrects them in love, that they might not be condemned with the world; when he vindicates them, and avenges them on their enemies, and when he protects and saves them; but the judgment of the Jewish nation, his professing people, the same that Peter speaks of, 1 Peter 4:17.

He shall call to the heavens from above, and to {e} the earth, that he may judge his people.

(e) As witnessing against the hypocrites.

4. He shall call to the heavens from above] Better, in continuation of the preceding verse, Let him call to the heavens above. The object of the summons is ‘that he may judge his people.’ Heaven and earth, the whole world of nature, are summoned to be witnesses of the judgement, for they are far older than man, and have watched the whole course of Israel’s history. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 4:32; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Micah 1:2; Micah 6:1-2. The poetical idea finds a strange equivalent in the conception of modern science that every action is recorded by a corresponding physical change, so that Nature is in truth a witness to the actions of man[25].

[25] See Babbage, Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, ch. 9., “On the Permanent Impression of our Words and Actions on the Globe we inhabit.”

Verse 4. - He shall call to the heavens from above; rather, to the heavens above; i.e. to the inhabitants of heaven - the holy angels. And to the earth (comp. ver. 1). That he may judge his people. Heaven and earth are called upon to come together, and furnish a fit audience before which the judgment may proceed. Psalm 50:4The 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.
Psalm 50:4 Interlinear
Psalm 50:4 Parallel Texts

Psalm 50:4 NIV
Psalm 50:4 NLT
Psalm 50:4 ESV
Psalm 50:4 NASB
Psalm 50:4 KJV

Psalm 50:4 Bible Apps
Psalm 50:4 Parallel
Psalm 50:4 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 50:4 Chinese Bible
Psalm 50:4 French Bible
Psalm 50:4 German Bible

Bible Hub

Psalm 50:3
Top of Page
Top of Page