contrasts the exalted, transcendent being of God with the
vain worship of fallen man. It also provides the saint with
life changing truths describing the kind of worship which is
pleasing to the Lord, and thus transforming to the believer.
Four principles can be gleaned from the text to avoid vain
1. SEEK THE FACE OF GOD:
At the outset, Ps 50 reveals that useless/vain worship is a
failure of sinners to respond to the glory of God. The One
to be worshipped is “The Mighty One, God, the Lord”,
[Yahweh, the self-existent One], V.1. He is therefore the
“perfection of beauty”, V. 2. “Fire devours before Him, and
it is very tempestuous around Him”, V. 3.
Thinking that God was far less than He is, Israel offered up
animal sacrifices while they held onto their cherished sin.
They cast His Word carelessly behind them as if it were
needless trash, V. 17. With such idolatrous hearts, Israel
approached God in worship thinking that their animal
sacrifices earned them merit from God.
But God loathed this external religion. Therefore He rebukes
them for their vain worship. The Lord states, “For every
beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand
hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything
that moves in the field is Mine”, V. 9-11. The Lord has no
need for animal sacrifices since He owns every-thing in
heaven and earth.
This Psalm rebukes professing believers for offering up
worship motivated by corrupt notions of who God is.
Regarding their vain worship, the Lord states, “These things
you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was
just like you, V. 21.
To avoid vain worship, we must seek the face of our God, Ps
105:4, Ps 27:8. Seeking God’s “face” is a metaphor
describing the saint who, like Moses in Exod 33:18, longs
for God to manifest His
glory. Those who draw close to the Lord will inevitably be
taken by the Spirit into true worship which is the overflow
in the saint of his encounter with the grandeur of God’s
glory, Ps 63:1-5
2. WORSHIP THROUGH THE CROSS:
Those who seek the face of God do not need to be told to
worship Him through the cross; to them any other path is
preposterous. Contrasting the vain with the sincere, the
Lord describes true worshipers as His “godly ones”, and
“those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice, V. 5.
Those who draw near keenly sense
their brokenness and hopelessness apart from grace. He is
holy. We are utterly sinful. Our flesh strives against His
Spirit, while His Spirit strives against our flesh, Gal
5:17. Every moment spent apart from the Spirit’s enabling
power is detestable to the Lord, Hab 1:13. Our need to come
to the cross is endless. Those who walk in close
fellowship with their God of glory worship the Lord in
profound humility and contrition. Gratitude for the gift of
God’s death on the cross should saturate our worship.
3. CLING TO CHRIST:
Seeking to cultivate meaningful worship, the Lord exhorts
His godly ones. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall
rescue you and you will honor Me”, V. 15. Our worship is to
be a heartfelt response of profound gratitude to God for His
deliverance from our many troubles. Too often we lose the
joy of worship through our own independence. We can do
nothing apart from Christ, Jn 15:5, but we can do all things
within His will because He continually strengthens us, Phil
Those who honor God in sincere worship have experienced His
rescuing grace. Our troubles are many. “Man is born for
trouble, as sparks fly up-ward”, Job 5:7. Often we do not
even see our need because we are spiritually myopic. We
battle against the powers of darkness, Eph 6:10-18. The
world seeks to conform us, Rom 12:2. Our flesh wages war
within us, 1 Peter 2:11.
Let us behold the path of righteousness set before us by our
Shepherd, Ps 23:3. Only through God’s ongoing power to
rescue can we walk on this path. There is no daily victory
in God’s grace without clinging to Christ, Ps 63:8. Let Him
rescue our needy souls. Then we shall honor Him fervently.
4. ORDER YOUR WAY:
Psalm 50 closes with God’s terrifying warning regarding vain
worship, and a transforming encouragement concerning true
worship. “Now consider this, you who forget God, or I will
tear you in pieces, and there will be none to
deliver”. V. 22 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving
honor Me. And
to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation
of God.” V. 23
Worship is a response to God’s display within our souls of
the power and mercies of His great salvation. But when we
hold onto cherished sins, we forfeit this divine showcase of
grace. All sin grieves the Spirit, and particularly spoken
words which are not edifying to others because they are not
motivated and empowered by Him, Eph 4:29-30. Sin blocks the
experience of God and the grandeur of His saving work within
our hearts, Is 59:2. Sin
produces vain worship, and it blocks true worship. The one
who blesses God in worship is he who “orders his way aright”
yearning for God’s display of His salvation.