A Psalm of Asaph. The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
We have in the text:
I. A precept for the day of trouble. God saith, "Call upon Me." (1) This calling is a suitable recognition of Himself in His relation to us. Is He not our Father? And as our Father, is He not our Deliverer? (2) This calling is an act of homage to His delivering power. It recognises God's hand. (3) This calling brings us near to God, face to face with God. (4) This calling is a beneficial religious exercise. It comforts. It lessens pressure. (5) This calling is the best possible preparation for the deliverance. It promises humility, humbleness of mind.
II. God encourages us to obey this precept by the promise and assurance, "I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." Thus does God speak to us now: (1) By verbal revelations of His character He saith, "Call upon Me" (Genesis 17:1); (2) by exceeding great and precious promises (Isaiah 43:2); (3) by various precepts and exhortations (Isaiah 43:1); (4) by the history of the deliverances He has wrought (Psalm 44:1-4); (5) by our experience and observation of deliverances effected (Psalm 34:5-6); (6) by the mediation of His Son He saith, "Call upon Me" (Hebrews 12:24); (7) by the ministry of the Holy Ghost He saith, "Call upon Me" (Romans 8:26).
S. Martin, Comfort in Trouble, p. 12.
References: Psalm 50:15.—T. Kelly, Pulpit Trees, p. 300; Congregationalist, vol. vi., p. 461; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1505, and vol. xxxi., No. 1876; G. S. Barrett, Old Testament Outlines, p. 114.
Psalm 50:21Psalm 50:3
I. God's keeping silence. (1) His keeping silence means that He seems to take no notice of the wickedness of men. He is "strong," and therefore He can punish; "righteous," and therefore He will punish; but He is "patient" also, so patient that, though He is provoked before His face every day, He still waits and waits, and never executes judgment speedily upon an evil work. (2) Another meaning of God's keeping silence is that He does not nowadays interfere with the course of nature. God has spoken, and now He is giving to mankind a trial, to see whether they will heed what He says. All things continue as they were, and an infidel may deny God if he pleases, and a bad man may defy God if he pleases; no lightning falls from heaven to blast either him who denies or him who defies. (3) Since we know God to be grievously displeased with sin, there is something very awful in His keeping silence while it is committed under His eyes. In countries where earthquakes happen, a dead silence always goes before the earthquake. So it is with God's silence. It will be followed, when it seems deepest, by the earthquake of His judgments.
II. Consider, next, God's breaking silence. (1) When our Lord came to found the Christian Church and sent His Apostles into the world with the glad tidings of salvation, there was a bright blaze of miracles. When He comes a second time to earth, a far brighter blaze of miracles will shine round Him than that which ushered in His first appearance. The present system of all things shall be broken up, and exchanged for another and a better system. (2) "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence." He shall come when death comes, or rather He shall come in and by death. The sky crimsons and flushes no less at sundown than at sunrise, and the human heart shall glow at the end of a man's career as it once glowed in the old forgotten days of the beginning. When the framework of this tabernacle is being unpinned, then shall signs and wonders be shown to the trembling soul. The voice of Christ may be suppressed at present, but, willing or unwilling, we must then give heed to it. "He will not keep silence."
E. M. Goulburn, Penny Pulpit, No. 3059.
Psalm 50:21In what sense are the words true that we think wickedly that God is such a one as ourselves?
I. We are constantly judging of His knowledge by our own.
II. This is true also with reference to His holiness.
III. We have an inadequate estimate of the veracity of God. We infer from the delay of His interposition that, like a mere man, He may threaten and not execute. It needs a very firm faith, and a very patient spirit, and a very tender conscience to keep alive in man's heart the practical and living conviction that for all these things God will bring him into judgment.
C. J. Vaughan, Harrow Sermons, 2nd series, p. 321.
I. God keeping silence. By this is intended God's appearing for a while not to take heed of the course of those who are sinning against Him. There is sufficient of God's prompt and even swift and startling vindication of His law to show that there is a God who judgeth the earth; and there is not sufficient of it to lead us to suppose that a final day, when the judgment shall be perfect, is not necessary.
II. Look, next, at man misinterpreting and misusing God's silence. The intention of God is to lead man to repentance, and the effect of it upon too many hearts which thus misinterpret and misuse it is only to lead them to sink more deeply into indifference and to be hardened in sin.
III. God says at last that He will break silence. The longsuffering of God will not last for ever. Whether we look at the history of the Flood, or at the history of the Cities of the Plain, or at the history of the people of Canaan, or at the history of Nebuchadnezzar, or at the history of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem, we see that at last even the longsuffering of God comes to an end.
J. C. Miller, Penny Pulpit, No. 771.
References: Psalm 50:21.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 137; J. Armstrong, Parochial Sermons, p. 66.
Psalm 50:21-22The disposition of many to misinterpret the moral government of God arises from one remarkable characteristic of it, to which our attention is drawn in this passage. Men misunderstand and misinterpret the majestic silence of God. "I kept silence." This has been the rule in God's dealings with men, and it is upon this rule that men presume.
I. Why does God keep silence and show Himself patient as well as strong, although He be provoked every day? The answer is, not because He is indifferent to sin, and not because He does not intend to punish it, but because He has ordained certain conditions for our probation here, and He is not so inconsistent as to reverse them. Man was created by God in His own image, in this respect above all others, that he possessed from the first a power of independent volition, a capacity of freewill, by the right and dutiful exercise of which he was to be raised to his proper destiny and fitted to share the glories of the Divine Being. If God broke silence and inflicted penalty every time that we transgressed against Him, it might become our will not to transgress against Him; but surely our will would only be free in a very limited sense of the word.
II. A further explanation of God's silence lies in His forbearing compassion. "He is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish." This is no sign of weakness; but it is a sign of patient, persevering, though ill-requited love, and it is evident that such an exhibition of forbearance on God's part makes our sin all the greater when we do sin against it.
III. Besides the occasional warnings which come within the experience of most of us, God has broken silence thrice at least in human history and spoken in a way that must needs appeal to our hearts if we reflect at all. There are three stupendous facts in human history in which we may say God has broken silence. They are (1) the curse which fell upon the world in consequence of a single sin; (2) the Flood; (3) the judgment upon the Sin-bearer at Calvary.
IV. God does even more than this. He has sent His Holy Spirit into the world especially to carry on the work of reproof, and to anticipate that judgment from which there is no escape and no appeal, by setting in order before us the things which we have done. The Holy Spirit is seeking to convict us of sin. Let us listen to His voice, and plead guilty to those charges which He brings against us. We may be sure that His friendly accusations are true.
W. Hay Aitken, Around the Cross, p. 17.
References: Psalm 50:23.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1495; S. Cox, Expositions, 3rd series, p. 152. Psalm 51:1.—G. Forbes, The Voice of God in the Psalms, p. 173.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.
These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.