Psalm 50 (ESV)
Rich Lewis, Worship and Arts
When my daughter was young, we watched Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” many times. One of our favorite scenes involved Ariel and Scuttle, her seagull friend, discussing the “stuff” that Ariel liked to collect. The knick-knacks that Ariel found so impressive were just “junk” that humans had lost in the sea. For Ariel, the trinkets and baubles connected her to the world of humans, giving her the feeling that she was just like us. The funny part was that neither she nor Scuttle knew what the names were of the various objects, or what their real use was. In Ariel’s collection, things like a bent spoon or a broken hairbrush could have powerful significance.
Psalm 50 reminds us that we, like Ariel, substitute “stuff” for the real deal. God in His infinite wisdom and knowledge sees what we do in worship and lets us know that our actions don’t have the significance that we wish they did. Worse still, we think that our “collection” of things will fool God into believing that what we do in His name is sincere, righteous, and holy.
In Psalm 50: 12-14, God says,
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,and perform your vows to the Most High.”
From earliest days, the people of Israel had been shown the ways of making a sacrifice to represent their devotion to God. What God was looking for was the sincerity of their devotion through their offerings.
Moving through Psalm 50, we see an even sterner message to those who would use God’s ways to live a double life. Psalm 50:16-17 notes,
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?For you hate discipline,and you cast my words behind you.”
It’s important to see that God’s parting words give us reason for hope. Even if our sacrifice is forced or faked, or God reasserts his mercy for those who would believe in Him with sincerity:
“Mark this, then, you who forget God,lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
Through God’s goodness alone, our worthless trinkets can become magnificent artifacts of faith when given in sacrifice.