Psalm 50:5
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) My saints.—This verse is of great importance, as containing a formal definition of the word chasîdîm, and so a direction as to its interpretation wherever it occurs in the Hebrew hymn book. The “saints” are those in the “covenant,” and that covenant was ratified by sacrifices. As often, then, as a sacrifice was offered by an Israelite, it was a witness to the existence of the covenant, and we are not to gather, therefore, from this psalm that outward acts of sacrifice were annulled by the higher spirit taught in it; they were merely subordinated to their proper place, and those who thought more of the rites that bore testimony to the covenant than of the moral duties which the covenant enjoined, are those censured in this part of the psalm.

Psalm 50:5-6. Gather my saints, &c. — O ye angels, summon and fetch them to my tribunal. Which is poetically spoken, to continue the metaphor and representation of the judgment here mentioned. My saints — The Israelites, whom he calls saints; 1st, Because they were all by profession a holy people, as they are called in Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy , , 2 d, As an argument and evidence against them, because God had chosen and separated them from all the nations of the earth, to be a holy and peculiar people to himself, and they also had solemnly and frequently devoted themselves to God and his service; all which did greatly aggravate the guilt of their present apostacy. Those that have made a covenant with me, &c. — Who have entered into covenant with me, and have ratified that covenant with me by sacrifice — Not only in their parents, Exodus 24:4, &c., but also in their own persons from time to time, even as often as they have offered sacrifices to me. This seems to be added, to acquaint them with the proper nature, use, and end of sacrifices, which were principally appointed to be signs and seals of the covenant made between God and his people; and consequently to convince them of their great mistake in trusting to their outward sacrifices, when they neglected the very life and soul of them, which was the keeping of their covenant with God: and withal to diminish that too high opinion which they had of sacrifices, and to prepare the way for the abolition of them. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness — Which they were called to witness, Psalm 50:4, as was the earth also; but here he mentions the heavens only, probably, because they were the most impartial and considerable witnesses in the case. For men upon earth might be false witnesses, either through ignorance and mistake, or through prejudice, partiality, and passion; but the angels understand things more thoroughly, and are so exactly pure and sinless, that they neither can nor will bear false witness for God; and therefore their testimony is more valuable. Or, the meaning is, that God would convince the people of his righteousness, and of their own wickedness, by thunders and lightnings, and storms, or other dreadful signs wrought by him in the heavens. For God is judge himself — In his own person. God will not now reprove them by his priests or prophets, but in an extraordinary manner from heaven.

50:1-6 This psalm is a psalm of instruction. It tells of the coming of Christ and the day of judgment, in which God will call men to account; and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of judgement. All the children of men are concerned to know the right way of worshipping the Lord, in spirit and in truth. In the great day, our God shall come, and make those hear his judgement who would not hearken to his law. Happy are those who come into the covenant of grace, by faith in the Redeemer's atoning sacrifice, and show the sincerity of their love by fruits of righteousness. When God rejects the services of those who rest in outside performances, he will graciously accept those who seek him aright. It is only by sacrifice, by Christ, the great Sacrifice, from whom the sacrifices of the law derived what value they had, that we can be accepted of God. True and righteous are his judgments; even sinners' own consciences will be forced to acknowledge the righteousness of God.Gather my saints together unto me - This is an address to the messengers employed for assembling those who are to be judged. Similar language is used by the Saviour Matthew 24:31 : "And he (the Son of Man) shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." The idea is, that God will bring them, or assemble them together. All this is language derived froth the notion of a universal judgment, "as if" the scattered people of God were thus gathered together by special messengers sent out for this purpose. The word "saints" here refers to those who are truly his people. The object - the purpose - of the judgment is to assemble in heaven those who are sincerely his friends; or, as the Saviour expresses it Matthew 24:31, his "elect." Yet in order to this, or in order to determine who "are" his true people, there will be a larger gathering - an assembling of all the dwellers on the earth.

Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice - Exodus 24:6-7. Compare the notes at Hebrews 9:19-22. The idea here is, that they are the professed people of God; that they have entered into a solemn covenant-relation to him, or have bound themselves in the most solemn manner to be his; that they have done this in connection with the sacrifices which accompany their worship; that they have brought their sacrifices or bloody offerings as a pledge that they mean to be his, and will be his. Over these solemn sacrifices made to him, they have bound themselves to be the Lord's; and the purpose of the judgment now is, to determine whether this was sincere, and whether they have been faithful to their vows. As applied to professed believers under the Christian system, the "idea" here presented would be, that the vow to be the Lord's has been made over the body and blood of the Redeemer once offered as a sacrifice, and that by partaking of the memorials of that sacrifice they have entered into a solemn "covenant" to be his. Nothing more solemn can be conceived than a "covenant" or pledge entered into in such a manner; and yet nothing is more painfully certain than that the process of a judgment will be necessary to determine in what cases it is genuine, for the mere outward act, no matter how solemn, does not of necessity decide the question whether he who performs it will enter into heaven.

5. my saints—(Ps 4:3).

made—literally, "cut"

a covenant, &c.—alluding to the dividing of a victim of sacrifice, by which covenants were ratified, the parties passing between the divided portions (compare Ge 15:10, 18).

O ye angels, summon and fetch them to my tribunal; which is poetically spoken; not as if they were actually to do so, but only to continue the metaphor and representation of the judgment here mentioned.

My saints; the delinquents, the Israelites, whom he calls saints; partly, because they were all by profession a holy people, as they are called, Deu 14:2; partly, by an irony, intimating how unworthy they were of that name; and partly, as an argument or evidence against them, because God had chosen and separated them from all the nations of the earth, to be a holy and peculiar people to himself, and they also had solemnly and frequently consecrated and devoted themselves to God, and to his faithful service; all which did greatly aggravate their present apostacy.

Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice, i.e. which have entered into covenant with me, and have ratified that covenant with me by sacrifice, not only in their parents, Exodus 24:4, &c., but also in their own persons from time to time, even as oft as they offer sacrifices to me. This clause seems to be added here, to acquaint them with the proper nature, use, and end of sacrifices, which were principally appointed to be signs and seals of the covenant made between God and his people; and consequently to convince them of their great mistake and wickedness in trusting to their outward sacrifices, when they neglect the very life and soul of them, which was the keeping of their covenant with God; and withal to diminish that overweaning conceit which they had of sacrifices, and to prepare the way for the abolition of them, as being only necessary to confirm the covenant; which being once for all confirmed by the blood of Christ, they might without any inconvenience be laid aside and abrogated.

Gather my saints together unto me,.... These words are spoken by Christ to the heavens and the earth; that is, to the angels, the ministers of the Gospel, to gather in, by the ministry of the word, his elect ones among the Gentiles; see Matthew 24:30; called his "saints", who had an interest in his favour and lovingkindness, and were sanctified or set apart for his service and glory;

those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; or, "who have made my covenant by, or on sacrifice" (s); the covenant of grace, which was made with Christ from everlasting, and which was confirmed by his blood and sacrifice; this his people may be said to make with God in him, he being their head, surety, and representative: now these covenant ones he will have gathered in to himself by the effectual calling, which is usually done by the ministry of the word; for this is not to be understood of the gathering of all nations to him, before him as a Judge; but of his special people to him as a Saviour, the "Shiloh", to whom the gathering of the people was to be, Genesis 49:10.

(s) So Pagninus.

Gather my {f} saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by {g} sacrifice.

(f) God in respect to his elect calls the whole body holy, saints and his people.

(g) Who should know that sacrifices are sealed by the covenant between God and his people, and not set religion in it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. Gather &c.] To whom is the command addressed? Perhaps to the angels who are God’s ministers of judgement (Matthew 24:31), and by whom He appears attended (Deuteronomy 33:2); less probably to heaven and earth, which according to the analogy of the parallel passages, are summoned as witnesses. But perhaps no definite reference at all is intended, and no particular messengers are in the Psalmist’s mind (cp. Isaiah 13:2).

my saints] The word châsîd denotes those who are the objects of Jehovah’s chesed or lovingkindness. ‘saint,’ like ‘servant,’ as applied to Israel, expresses the relation in which Jehovah has placed the nation towards Himself, without necessarily implying that its character corresponds to its calling (Psalm 79:2; Isaiah 42:19). The indictment against many of the Israelites is that their conduct towards their fellow-men is entirely destitute of that ‘lovingkindness’ which ought to reflect the lovingkindness of Jehovah towards them. On the word châsîd see Appendix, Note i.

those that have made &c.] Or, those that make &c. The reference is not merely to the original ratification of the covenant with the nation at Sinai (Exodus 24:5 ff.), but to the recognition and maintenance of it by each fresh generation with repeated sacrifices. The previous line refers (in the word ‘saints’) to the divine grace which is the originating cause of the covenant with Israel, this line to the human act which acknowledges that grace and the obligations which it entails. It has been thought strange that the Ps. which depreciates sacrifice should recognise it as the sanction of the covenant, and it has been suggested that these words are merely ‘ironical.’ It is however impossible to regard them as merely ironical. Though the Decalogue contained no command to offer sacrifice, the primitive institution of sacrifice was sanctioned and regulated by the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:24 ff). Sacrifice had its divinely appointed place in the economy of the old Covenant, though not that which formal and hypocritical worshippers imagined. It could not be a substitute for devotion and morality; but its abuse did not abrogate its use. See Oehler’s O.T. Theology, § 201.

Verse 5. - Gather my saints together unto me. By "my saints" the psalmist means here, not godly Israel, as in Psalm 16:3, but all Israel - the whole nation, whether true servants of Jehovah, or only professed servants. This is rendered clear by the ensuing clause, Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Not even was the first covenant dedicated without blood (Hebrews 9:18; comp. Exodus 24:3-8); nor could any Israelite remain within the covenant without frequent sacrifice (Exodus 12:2-47, etc.). Psalm 50:5The judgment scene. To the heavens above (מעל, elsewhere a preposition, here, as in Genesis 27:39; Genesis 49:25, an adverb, desuper, superne) and to the earth God calls (קרא אל, as, e.g., Genesis 28:1), to both לדין עמּו, in order to sit in judgment upon His people in their presence, and with them as witnesses of His doings. Or is it not that they are summoned to attend, but that the commission, Psalm 50:5, is addressed to them (Olshausen, Hitzig)? Certainly not, for the act of gathering is not one that properly belongs to the heavens and the earth, which, however, because they exist from the beginning and will last for ever, are suited to be witnesses (Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2, 1 Macc. 2:37). The summons אספוּ is addressed, as in Matthew 24:31, and frequently in visions, to the celestial spirits, the servants of the God here appearing. The accused who are to be brought before the divine tribunal are mentioned by names which, without their state of mind and heart corresponding to them, express the relationship to Himself in which God has placed them (cf. Deuteronomy 32:15; Isaiah 42:19). They are called חסידים, as in the Asaph Psalm 79:2. This contradiction between their relationship and their conduct makes an undesigned but bitter irony. In a covenant relationship, consecrated and ratified by a covenant sacrifice (עלי־זבח similar to Psalm 92:4; Psalm 10:10), has God placed Himself towards them (Exodus 24); and this covenant relationship is also maintained on their part by offering sacrifices as an expression of their obedience and of their fidelity. The participle כּרתי here implies the constant continuance of that primary covenant-making. Now, while the accused are gathered up, the poet hears the heavens solemnly acknowledge the righteousness of the Judge beforehand. The participial construction שׁפט הוּא, which always, according to the connection, expresses the present (Nahum 1:2), or the past (Judges 4:4), or the future (Jeremiah 25:31), is in this instance an expression of that which is near at hand (fut. instans). הוּא has not the sense of ipse (Ew. 314, a), for it corresponds to the "I" in אני שׁפט or הנני שׁפט; and כּי is not to be translated by nam (Hitzig), for the fact that God intends to judge requires no further announcement. On the contrary, because God is just now in the act of sitting in judgment, the heavens, the witnesses most prominent and nearest to Him, bear witness to His righteousness. The earthly music, as the סלה directs, is here to join in with the celestial praise. Nothing further is now wanting to the completeness of the judgment scene; the action now begins.
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