The passage starts out with a description of God coming in judgment. Now, there are those who say that the God of the OT is a violent one, that "a loving God would never..." etc. Understand- God is HOLY and evil will not stand before Him. The subject of God's judgment is brought up so many times so as to get through the thick skulls of man three things: That God WILL judge, WHY God will judge, and HOW to escape that judgment. This Psalm holds all three.
That He will judge is the subject of the beginning (v3) and the end (v22) of this chapter. No more need be said. Why he judges is mainly covered in these verses:
Psa 50:16 But to the wicked, God says, What is it to you, to declare My Precepts, and to take up My covenant in your mouth?
Psa 50:17 Yea, you hate to be taught, and you toss My Words behind you.
Psa 50:18 When you saw a thief, then you were pleased to be with him, and you have taken part with adulterers.
Psa 50:19 You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
Psa 50:20 You sit; you speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son.
Pulling out the crimes you see:
-man setting God's word at naught ( "what is it to you...")
-taking part in sin, despite knowing better;
-evil speaking of others, even those you should love;
Okay, no surprises here. So let's look at the plan. To me, this Psalm has two key verses, and this is the first:
Psa 50:4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, so that He may judge His people.
Psa 50:5 Gather My saints to Me; and those who cut My covenant by sacrifice.
Psa 50:6 And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; for God Himself is judge. Selah.
So, He gathers "those who cut my Covenant by sacrifice." Or in other words "cut a deal by sacrifice." But what sacrifice are we talking about? Not the ones they offered at the temple, because Asaph then spends from vv7-13 explaining that those sacrifices mean nothing:
Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it. Psa 50:13 Will I eat the flesh of the mighty, or drink the blood of goats?
God goes on twice to explain that obedience and thanksgiving are what He's looking for, in vv 14-15 and the beginning of 23. But the WHOLE of 23 shows that there is something more yet required:
Psa 50:23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and he who sets a way, I will show him the salvation of God.
"I will SHOW him..." not give, show. To gain it, you have to "cut the deal" with Christ. And if you are giving praise and thanksgiving to God, He will show you that. This is where the atheists have their problem. I don't know how many times I've heard "I know the Bible as good as you, maybe better." But they have never come in the spirit of praise and thanksgiving- and OBEDIENCE- required before God will SHOW them anything.
But that's not the end of the story here, I've purposefully been holding on to one last section- the one just after the sin passage. You see, if you read that carefully, you'll see that God isn't just talking to the overt sinners, but to those who are just saying the sin is okay- those who TOLERATE sin. Those who think they are being open minded, accepting people as they are... sound familiar? I could look at that as it pertains to today's society, but it would miss my main point- always application to yourself personally. You see, we all have a tendency to look at the world and say, "Well, it's just the way things are now." We give ourselves leeway, or a mulligan on certain things. We try to think of God as seeing it our way. But look here:
Psa 50:21 These things you have done, and I have kept silence; you thought that I was altogether like yourself, but I will rebuke you, and set in order before your eyes.
A lot of times, we "worship" a God who see things just like we do. "Oh, that's okay, Chris (pats head and smiles)." But it ain't like that. This is a warning to believers, friends, because non-believers don't think God even exists, let alone is anything like them (although they insist God would have to be more like them before they would believe). Do you try to make yourself like God, or do you just hope God sees things the way you do? This isn't just sin; it's politics and history. FB people have all seen the memes about the thought processes of the Founding Fathers, and how the Christian Right treats them as if they were the Twelve Apostles once removed. But there were those who denied the active hand of God among them, there were those who denied the divinity of Christ among them. And as politicians are politicians, there were no doubt some who just made loud Biblical statements to look good. At the end of the day, we lose sight that the American Revolution wasn't the result of a great revival so much as an economic statement. Yes, many of them did believe that God was leading them in a righteous direction, and many were truly faithful to their concept of the mercy of God.
So was Robert E. Lee.
God is not bound to any politics or history, and He is not a God that cuts the corner on sin. He has a stiff requirement:
Psa 50:14 Offer to God thanksgiving; and pay your vows to the Most High;
Psa 50:15 and call on Me in the day of trouble; and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.