Sunday Devotional 13th November 2022
by Bruce Billington
We are continuing to explore the knowledge of God as expressed in the Psalms. This week we will look at Psalm 50, a Psalm of Asaph.
V1 The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken, And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
V2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.
V3 May our God come and not keep silence; Fire devours before Him, And it is very tempestuous around Him.
V4 He summons the heavens above, And the earth, to judge His people:
This Psalm, written by Asaph, who is assumed by many to be David’s chief musician, makes the point right from the start, that we should never treat God lightly. Walking with Him in the understanding of who He is, is a very serious business. Asaph begins this Psalm by describing both who God is and what God’s final judgement on this earth will be like. He describes the radiant appearance of the Lord, as He comes in all His glory to judge the people of the earth, particularly those who claim to represent Him. He is a devouring fire (V3) who does not tolerate anything that does not meet His standards. We should not dare provoke Him or make Him angry.
In the Hebrew we pick up the various names that are used to describe God here. Of note are
· Mighty God (El Elohim)—a name that places a double emphasis on God’s power and authority. El means strong, mighty, and powerful. Elohim is the all-powerful God.
· Lord (Yahweh, Jehovah)—God’s personal, covenant name through which He reveals Himself and relates to His people.
The day is coming when the majestic God will appear from Zion, the place where His presence was once manifested, in the blazing light of perfection and beauty (V2; Psalm 48:2; Lamentation 2:15). The perfect beauty of the earthly Zion, Jerusalem, foreshadows the glory of the heavenly Zion where God sits on His holy throne (Hebrews 8:1–5; 9:23–24; 12:22).
Although we understand that because we are in Christ, no eternal judgement or banishment will come upon us, this should never allow us to minimise what is being taught here. When God comes forth to judge His people, His presence will not be calm and quiet (V3). Asaph used two fearful images to describe God’s appearance in judgment: a consuming fire and a raging storm, both found in other places in Scripture (Exodus 24:17; Hebrews 12:29). Both heavenly and earthly beings will be summoned to witness His judgment (V4), which will be unlike anything the created order has ever seen before.
Asaph cannot, and in fact dare not, keep silent about all of this. The Almighty God who gave the Law, and then, through Christ, gave the way to live – the way of the Lord – will eventually enter into judgment with those who have accessed this and have not walked in it.
Of course, numerous warnings of this have been given. God has constantly, throughout the ages, made calls and appeals for repentance so that we, as His people, can avoid this judgment that is coming.
But we should make no mistake – the fire mentioned in these early verses, threatens to consume the sinners, and the terrible storm that accompanies His presence threatens to drive them away like chaff. The fire is His wrath, and the storm the power or force of this wrath. It can only be avoided by those who are truly in Christ.
For sure – the vehement mode of address is primarily aimed at hypocrites, that they might be roused from their complacent security, and their serious attention given to the message of God. It is an attempt by God’s grace and mercy, to reach even the most deviant of His followers. He was pursuing those who claimed a piety and authority but lived a life full of sin and hypocrisy. His hope was that by describing this ultimate action He would take, that He would shock those out of their complacency.
Even though this Psalm was written in the time of David, there is a warning here for all of us. We will let the writer of the Hebrews reiterate this.
Hebrews 4:6–7 – Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”
God bless you.