The fiftieth psalm begins with the heading “A psalm of Asaph”. Whether it was officially written by him or simply dedicated to him , it is noteworthy to understand who Asaph was and the impact he had on the music and worship of Israel. Asaph was part of a music guild in the court of David along with Heman (1 Chronicles 6:39 ) and Ethan (1 Chronicles 15:19). These men were appointed to lead the musical celebration for the return of the Ark of the Covenant when King David danced passionately enough to embarrass his wife Michal (1 Chronicles 15:16ff). He also served under the leadership of King Solomon during an incredibly significant theophany of the glory of God (2 ...view middle of the document...
These psalms deal with the seasons of life that are painful and chaotic because of “hurt, alienation, suffering, and death”. Both lament psalms and wisdom psalms fall under this category. Although Bullock does not select psalm fifty in his categorization of Wisdom Psalms, there many correlations with the traits of his classification. His description includes admonition, reward and retribution, as well as antithetical ways of life, all of which are found in Psalm 50.
II. God, the Omnipotent One, Summons the Universe to Court
Prophecy not only refers to foreseeing the future, but additionally and at the same time means that God is speaking. In one sense the whole Bible is a book of prophecy even though it is full of history. Because it generates from the person of God, it is prophetic even though only a limited number of chapters actually refer to future events. In Psalm 50, Asaph declares the very words of the Lord but first he declares the very presence of the Lord. God is coming to speak and he speaks with authority.
The Radiance and Glory of the Judge (50:1-3)
These opening verses begin with a dramatic depiction of God’s nature and how His judgments will proceed. “El, Elohim, Jehovah” (Mighty One, God of Creation, the Covenant LORD ) has come as the triune God in “perfect beauty” (v. 2). He “shines” (v. 2), “fire devours before him” (v. 3) and wind is whirling around him (v. 3). His presence evokes awe and trembling. Not only is the Judge full of might, but also He is ever-present and speaks to the entire globe “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets” (v. 1). This Old Testament idiom means every corner of the globe is exposed to the presence of God. The time has come for God to speak. Prior to this point God was silent (see v.21) but not consenting. But who will hear what he says and to whom will he speak?
The Witnesses and Purpose of His Judgments (50:4-6)
God calls all of heaven and all of earth to be manifold witnesses to this great court appointment. These witnesses are not a jury that casts a vote on the fate of man, God alone is the judge (v.6), and the witnesses appear only to worship his awesome judgments. The law of God clearly states that one witness is never enough to convict an accused man, but two or three are necessary (Deuteronomy 19:15). Heaven and Earth are not solely witnesses to God’s justice, but also witnesses against the sins of the covenant people. They will additionally be responsible for gathering them to court. God’s “consecrated ones”, the people who made a “covenant” with Him, are called to trial. This is not a court for all of humanity, but one for people whom God called dear. How tragic that His sheep and His chosen children strayed far enough to receive the coming rebuke, far enough that God even calls them “wicked” (v. 16).
Appropriately Asaph encourages the reader to Selah (or rest) after this depiction of power and majesty. As Charles...