Words of Hope and Warning

I’ve never thought of Psalm 50 as a “prophetic” psalm, but as I read it this morning, I can’t help but connect the words to God’s future judgment of the world. It begins as God, the Mighty One, Jehovah speaks, summoning the heavens and the earth to appear before Him. His appearance is that of Righteous Judge; fire devours before Him and it is very tempestuous around Him. (50:1-4)

God calls for His godly ones to be gathered to Him (50:5-6). This reminds me of two events; the first being the rapture of all the church – those who have placed their faith in Jesus alone. I believe scripture teaches that this gathering happens shortly before the 7-year tribulation begins and fits in this psalm because in the next few verses God turns His attention to Israel, His chosen people. This “gathering” also reminds me of the great gathering at the end of the tribulation, the Great White Throne Judgment, when all the unbelieving world will stand before God and give account for their lives.

In verses 7-15, God calls for His people to stop relying on outward, external worship and instead offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, the sign of a heart that has truly come to recognize God as Lord and Creator and Savior. This section ends with God’s invitation to call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me, exactly what will happen at the end of the tribulation when Israel finally recognizes Jesus as the true Messiah.

The last portion of this psalm (verses 16-23) is a warning to those who claim to know God, but their hearts are far from Him. They make the mistake of thinking God is just like them, that they are equal with God. They slander God’s Word and God’s children; they forget God and live as though He doesn’t exist. How appropriate this description is, both for what is going on in our world today and what will become worse and worse during the tribulation as men’s and women’s hearts are hardened even more.

God has two kinds of strong words for those who reject and forget Him: a word of warning and a word of hope. To those who do not repent He says, I will tear you in pieces and there will be none to deliver. There will come a time when it is too late, and the unrepentant will receive the judgment of God for their sins. But He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me, and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.

God is not fooled by our token attempts at outward worship. Anything we offer Him already belongs to Him (50:10-12). Instead, He is looking for humble hearts that recognize that everything we have is only by His grace, and He alone deserves our worship. To “order our way aright” is to turn our hearts to Jesus, trusting in Him for the salvation that comes only from our God.

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