Psalm 50:14
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
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(14) Offer.—Gratitude, and the loyal performance of known duties, are the ritual most pleasing to God. Not that the verse implies the cessation of outward rites, but the subordination of the outward to the inward, the form to the spirit. (See Psalm 51:17-19.)

Psalm 50:14. Offer unto God thanksgiving — If thou wouldest know what sacrifices I prize, and indispensably require, in the first place, it is that of thankfulness, proportionable to my great and numberless favours; which doth not consist barely in verbal acknowledgments, but proceeds from a heart deeply affected with God’s mercies, and is accompanied with such a course of life as is well pleasing to God. And pay thy vows unto the Most High — Not ceremonial, but moral vows seem to be evidently meant here: the things required in this Psalm being opposed to sacrifices, and all ceremonial observances and offerings, and preferred before them. He means those substantial vows, promises, and covenants, which were the very soul of their sacrifices, and to which their sacrifices were but appurtenances and seals; namely, the vows whereby they did avouch Jehovah to be their God, and engaged to walk in his ways, Deuteronomy 26:17; and to love, serve, and obey him according to that solemn covenant which they entered into at Sinai, Exodus 24:3-8, and which they often renewed, and indeed did implicitly repeat in all their sacrifices, which were appointed for this very end, to confirm this covenant.

50:7-15 To obey is better than sacrifice, and to love God and our neighbour better than all burnt-offerings. We are here warned not to rest in these performances. And let us beware of resting in any form. God demands the heart, and how can human inventions please him, when repentance, faith, and holiness are neglected? In the day of distress we must apply to the Lord by fervent prayer. Our troubles, though we see them coming from God's hand, must drive us to him, not drive us from him. We must acknowledge him in all our ways, depend upon his wisdom, power, and goodness, and refer ourselves wholly to him, and so give him glory. Thus must we keep up communion with God; meeting him with prayers under trials, and with praises in deliverances. A believing supplicant shall not only be graciously answered as to his petition, and so have cause for praising God, but shall also have grace to praise him.Offer unto God thanksgiving - The word rendered "offer" in this place - זבח zâbach - means properly "sacrifice." So it is rendered by the Septuagint, θῦσον thuson - and by the Vulgate, "immola." The word is used, doubtless, with design - to show what was the "kind" of sacrifice with which God would be pleased, and which he would approve. It was not the mere "sacrifice" of animals, as they commonly understood the term; it was not the mere presentation of the bodies and the blood of slain beasts; it was an offering which proceeded from the heart, and which was expressive of gratitude and praise. This is not to be understood as implying that God did not require or approve of the offering of bloody sacrifices, but as implying that a higher sacrifice was necessary; that these would be vain and worthless unless they were accompanied with the offerings of the heart; and that his worship, even amidst outward forms, was to be a spiritual worship.

And pay thy vows unto the Most High - To the true God, the most exalted Being in the universe. The word "vows" here - נדר neder - means properly a vow or promise; and then, a thing vowed; a votive offering, a sacrifice. The idea seems to be, that the true notion to be attached to the sacrifices which were prescribed and required was, that they were to be regarded as expressions of internal feelings and purposes; of penitence; of a deep sense of sin; of gratitude and love; and that the design of such sacrifices was not fulfilled unless the "vows" or pious purposes implied in the very nature of sacrifices and offerings were carried out in the life and conduct. They were not, therefore, to come merely with these offerings, and then feel that all the purpose of worship was accomplished. They were to carry out the true design of them by lives corresponding with the idea intended by such sacrifices - lives full of penitence, gratitude, love, obedience, submission, devotion. This only could be acceptable worship. Compare the notes at Isaiah 1:11-17. See also Psalm 76:11; Ecclesiastes 5:5.

8-15. However scrupulous in external worship, it was offered as if they conferred an obligation in giving God His own, and with a degrading view of Him as needing it [Ps 50:9-13]. Reproving them for such foolish and blasphemous notions, He teaches them to offer, or literally, "sacrifice," thanksgiving, and pay, or perform, their vows—that is, to bring, with the external symbolical service, the homage of the heart, and faith, penitence, and love. To this is added an invitation to seek, and a promise to afford, all needed help in trouble. If thou wouldst know what sacrifices I most prize, and indispensably require, in the first place, it is that of thankfulness and praise proportionable to my great, and glorious, and numberless favours; which doth not consist barely in verbal acknowledgments, but proceeds from a heart truly and deeply affected with God’s mercies, and is accompanied with such a course of life as is gratified or well-pleasing to God; all which is plainly comprehended in

thanksgiving, as that duty is explained in other Scriptures.

Thy vows; either,

1. Ceremonial vows, the sacrifices which thou hast vowed to God. Or rather,

2. Moral vows; for the things here mentioned are directly opposed unto sacrifices, and preferred before them; for having disparaged, and in some sort rejected,

their sacrifices and burnt-offerings, Psalm 50:8, it is not likely that he should have a better opinion of, or value for, their vowed sacrifices; which were of an inferior sort. He seems therefore to understand those substantial vows, and promises, and covenants, which were the very soul of their sacrifices, and to which their sacrifices were but appurtenances and seals, as was noted above, on Psalm 50:5, whereby they did avouch the Lord to be their God, and to walk in his ways, &c., as it is expressed, Deu 26:17, and engaged themselves to love, and serve, and obey the Lord according to that solemn vow and covenant which they entered into at Sinai, Exodus 24:3,7,8, which they oft renewed, and indeed did implicitly repeat in all their sacrifices, which were appointed for this very end, to confirm this covenant.

Offer unto God thanksgiving,.... Which is a sacrifice, Psalm 50:23; and the Jews say (x), that all sacrifices will cease in future time, the times of the Messiah, but the sacrifice of praise; and this should be offered up for all mercies, temporal and spiritual; and unto God, because they all come from him; and because such sacrifices are well pleasing to him, and are no other than our reasonable service, and agreeably to his will; and then are they offered up aright when they are offered up through Christ, the great High Priest, by whom they are acceptable unto God, and upon him the altar, which sanctifies every gift, and by faith in him, without which it is impossible to please God. Some render the word "confession" (y); and in all thanksgivings it is necessary that men should confess their sins and unworthiness, and acknowledge the goodness of God, and ascribe all the glory to him; for to him, and him only, is this sacrifice to be offered: not to man; for that would be to sacrifice to his own net, and burn incense to his drag;

and pay thy vows unto the most High: meaning not ceremonial ones, as the vow of the Nazarite; nor to offer such and such a sacrifice, since these are distinguished from and opposed unto the sacrifices of the ceremonial law before mentioned; and much less monastic ones, as the vow of celibacy, and abstinence from certain meats at certain times; but moral, or spiritual and evangelical ones; such as devoting one's self to the Lord and to his service and worship, under the influence and in the strength of grace; signified by saying, I am the Lord's, and the giving up ourselves to him and to his churches, to walk with them in all his commands and ordinances, to which his love and grace constrain and oblige; see Isaiah 44:5; and particularly by them may be meant giving God the glory and praise of every mercy and deliverance, as was promised previous to it; hence those are put together, Psalm 65:1. This Scripture does not oblige to the making of vows, but to the payment of them when made; see Ecclesiastes 5:4; and may refer to everything a man lays himself in a solemn manner under obligation to perform, especially in religious affairs.

(x) Vajikra Rabba, fol. 153. 1. & 168. 4. (y) "confessionem", Montanus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and {l} pay thy vows unto the most High:

(l) Show yourself mindful of God's benefits by thanksgiving.

14. Offer &c.] Lit., sacrifice unto God thanksgiving: hence R.V., offer unto God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The context makes it clear that spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving are meant, not the material ‘sacrifices of thanksgiving’ (Leviticus 7:12) as contrasted with burnt offerings. Cp. Psalm 69:30 f; Psalm 51:17; Hosea 14:2.

and pay &c.] i.e., by such spiritual sacrifice thou shalt discharge thy vows (Leviticus 7:16). Cp. Psalm 61:8.

14, 15. What sacrifice then does God desire? Not the material sacrifices of the altar, but the offering of the heart.

Verse 14. - Offer unto God thanksgiving. The one offering acceptable to God is praise and thanksgiving out of a pure heart. This was designed to be the accompaniment of all sacrifice, and was the ground of acceptability in every case where sacrifice was acceptable. And pay thy vows unto the Most High; i.e. "and so pay thy vows." So offer thy worship, and it will be accepted. Psalm 50:14Exposition of the sacrificial Tra for the good of those whose holiness consists in outward works. The forms strengthened by ah, in Psalm 50:7, describe God's earnest desire to have Israel for willing hearers as being quite as strong as His desire to speak and to bear witness. העיד בּ, obtestari aliquem, to come forward as witness, either solemnly assuring, or, as here and in the Psalm of Asaph, Psalm 81:9, earnestly warning and punishing (cf. Arab. šahida with b, to bear witness against any one). On the Dagesh forte conjunctive in בּך, vid., Ges. ֗20, 2, a. He who is speaking has a right thus to stand face to face with Israel, for he is Elohim, the God of Israel - by which designation reference is made to the words אנכי יהוה אלהיך (Exodus 20:2), with which begins the Law as given from Sinai, and which here take the Elohimic form (whereas in Psalm 81:11 they remain unaltered) and are inverted in accordance with the context. As Psalm 50:8 states, it is not the material sacrifices, which Israel continually, without cessation, offers, that are the object of the censuring testimony. ועולתיך, even if it has Mugrash, as in Baer, is not on this account, according to the interpretation given by the accentuation, equivalent to ועל־עולותיך (cf. on the other hand Psalm 38:18); it is a simple assertory substantival clause: thy burnt-offerings are, without intermission, continually before Me. God will not dispute about sacrifices in their outward characteristics; for - so Psalm 50:9 go on to say-He does not need sacrifices for the sake of receiving from Israel what He does not otherwise possess. His is every wild beast (חיתו, as in the Asaph Psalm 79:2) of the forest, His the cattle בּהררי אלף, upon the mountains of a thousand, i.e., upon the thousand (and myriad) mountains (similar to מתי מספּר or מתי מעט), or: where they live by thousands (a similar combination to נבל עשׂור). Both explanations of the genitive are unsupported by any perfectly analogous instance so far as language is concerned; the former, however, is to be preferred on account of the singular, which is better suited to it. He knows every bird that makes its home on the mountains; ידע, as usually, of a knowledge which masters a subject, compasses it and makes it its own. Whatever moves about the fields if with Him, i.e., is within the range of His knowledge (cf. Job 27:11; Psalm 10:13), and therefore of His power; זיז (here and in the Asaph Psalm 80:14) from זאזא equals זעזע, to move to and fro, like טיט from טיטע, to swept out, cf. κινώπετον, κνώδαλον, from κινεῖν. But just as little as God requires sacrifices in order thereby to enrich Himself, is there any need on His part that might be satisfied by sacrifices, Psalm 50:12. If God should hunger, He would not stand in need of man's help in order to satisfy Himself; but He is never hungry, for He is the Being raised above all carnal wants. Just on this account, what God requires is not by any means the outward worship of sacrifice, but a spiritual offering, the worship of the heart, Psalm 50:14. Instead of the שׁלמים, and more particularly זבח תּודה, Leviticus 7:11-15, and שׁלמי נדר, Leviticus 7:16 (under the generic idea of which are also included, strictly speaking, vowed thank-offerings), God desires the thanksgiving of the heart and the performance of that which has been vowed in respect of our moral relationship to Himself and to men; and instead of the עולה in its manifold forms of devotion, the prayer of the heart, which shall not remain unanswered, so that in the round of this λογικὴ λατρεία everything proceeds from and ends in εὐχαριστία. It is not the sacrifices offered in a becoming spirit that are contrasted with those offered without the heart (as, e.g., Sir. 32 [35]:1-9), but the outward sacrifice appears on the whole to be rejected in comparison with the spiritual sacrifice. This entire turning away from the outward form of the legal ceremonial is, in the Old Testament, already a predictive turning towards that worship of God in spirit and in truth which the new covenant makes alone of avail, after the forms of the Law have served as swaddling clothes to the New Testament life which was coming into being in the old covenant. This "becoming" begins even in the Tra itself, especially in Deuteronomy. Our Psalm, like the Chokma (Proverbs 21:3), and prophecy in the succeeding age (cf. Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Isaiah 1:11-15, and other passages), stands upon the standpoint of this concluding book of the Tra, which traces back all the requirements of the Law to the fundamental command of love.
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