The Bible

 

Psalms 150

Study

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1 Praise ye Jehovah. Praise God in his sanctuary: Praise him in the firmament of his power.

2 Praise him for his mighty acts: Praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3 Praise him with trumpet sound: Praise him with psaltery and harp.

4 Praise him with timbrel and dance: Praise him with stringed instruments and pipe.

5 Praise him with loud cymbals: Praise him with high sounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah. Praise ye Jehovah.

  

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 50

   

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 50 is a psalm about divine justice. It comes in two parts, after the opening verses about the Mighty One, God the Lord who has spoken and who calls the earth to Him. The first part (verses 4 to 15) is about the Lord’s people who bring their sacrifices and burnt offerings. The Lord shows his frustration with their endeavours to please Him, saying it is futile. ‘Offer thanksgiving to God and call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.’

The second part is directed to those who are in wickedness and have allowed themselves to take part with thieves and adulterers and who speak evil and deceit and who slander their mother’s son. They believe God is like them, but they are rebuked and will be judged. The last two verses give a warning and an appeal: ‘Lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver; whoever gives praise glorifies Me and to him who orders his conduct right, I will show the salvation of God.’

One remarkable feature of this psalm is that both types of people being judged are imperfect. None seem to follow the actual way of the Lord. While this sounds harsh, it is true; all people in every spiritual state will have a response to the Lord that is tainted, or coming from some deluded or incomplete impression of what God requires, rather than in the way in which this psalm ends, with given praise and the intention of right conduct. We should not see this imperfection as condemning but simply as how it is with us as we strive to regenerate and grow in our understanding of the Lord. (New Jerusalem 194)

In the introduction it says that God ‘will shine forth’, ‘shall come’, and ‘not keep silent’. A fire will devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all round Him. All this describes the eventual situation for all of us, that our inner state will be manifested and no longer be hidden from view. This takes place mainly in the spiritual world, but the process of it begins here in this life. All that is said of God here is about how the penetrating light of divine truth leaves nothing unseen. This, surely, will be quite tempestuous for all of us. (Heaven and Hell 131)

Verses 4 to 6 describe the gathering together for judgment, of all the ‘saints’, those who have chosen to worship the Lord. Spiritually, ‘saints’ mean those who live what the Word teaches, not that this makes them saints but that the Word, which is holy, is in them. (AR 586.3) ‘Sacrifice’ means to worship. (Arcana Caelestia 923)

The next nine verses (7 to 15) form a divine rebuke on those who come with sacrifices to offer to the Lord, of bulls, goats, birds. They are not rebuked for this, because all these genuinely represent what their worship should be in their hearts and lives, but it is merely external, and for that they are strongly rebuked. ‘Every beast of the forest is mine; I know all the birds of the mountains.’ The whole litany is against nominal religion where there is no repentance and regeneration in the heart. (Arcana Caelestia 10506)

This part ends with the call to offer real worship of the heart to the Lord, to confess to Him and to deeply acknowledge that He is the source of all that is. Then He will be there to deliver us in states of temptation because we have owned Him, and we glorify Him. (Arcana Caelestia 3880.7)

The next part is the judgment of the wicked, who come and talk about God’s laws, but it means nothing to them and is pure hypocrisy. Wickedness specifically means to know what God asks of us and to despise this, and yet to pretend it is everything to you. It is a far worse state for us than unintentionally doing wrong. This is why the examples given in this section – consenting with a thief, joining with adulterers, slandering your mother’s son – are so spiritually expressive of that real intended evil which finally destroys our heart and understanding. (Heaven and Hell 595)

The psalm ends with the very heart of religion in our mind, heart, and life, which is to praise and acknowledge God in all things and to determine that our life, inwardly and outwardly, is based on all that God commands us. This is essential, for otherwise we will tear ourselves in pieces. (Heaven and Hell 575)