1 A psalm of Asaph.
The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. 2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.
4 He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” 6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah.
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. 8 I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. 9 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 Sacrifice thank-offerings to God, fulfil your vows to the Most High,15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me.”
16 But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? 17 You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. 18 When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. 19 You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. 20 You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.
22 “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: 23 He who sacrifices thank-offerings honours me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
What God wants as worship
(Verses 1-3) All real worship of God starts with God. Who is He? What has He done? Worship is not a mood, feeling, or liking special music. It is not about who worships but about the Lord. He is the ‘Mighty One’. His word goes out all over the world. God shines out from Zion, His beautiful and holy temple and mountain. He comes like a devouring fire and a raging tempest.
(Verses 4-6) God summons His people for judgment. They are fully bound to Him by sacrificial covenant and made righteous. Christians come to God through the shed blood of Jesus. He died for us. He paid sins’ penalty and punishment on the cross. God’s covenant is to save all who trust Jesus. God’s righteousness is even seen if you look up at the heavens and consider. God, our judge, is righteous in every way.
(Verses 7-15) God Himself is Israel’s God and the God of all who trust in Jesus. He speaks to them now through the Bible. Do read it each day. He shows us our failures, too. The Israelite’s issue was not keeping Old Testament sacrifices: they did keep them. But God did not need them to give Him animals or birds to sacrifice. He owns and knows them all! He never needs them to eat! God seeks hearts giving genuine thanks for His character and acts. He wants His people to keep their vows and promises. When they call on God in troubled times, He will deliver them, and they will honour Him. That also happens when a sinner turns to Jesus.
(Verses 16-22) Religious observances can never put sinners right. You can say right words but ignore God’s word. If you steal, are immoral, use bad language, deceive, gossip, or slander people, God sees and hears it all. He will rebuke, accuse, and judge sinners for their sins. After death, He will judge them eternally, and finally.
(Verse 23) But for anyone thankful for His sacrifice God prepares the way for him to receive His salvation! Is that you?