There are twelve psalms which are titled: “a Psalm of Asaph.” This is the first of the twelve, so it's a good point to ask, "who is Asaph?"
There are several Asaph’s mentioned in the Bible. Of them, there are two likely candidates for psalm writing: one was a chief musician under King David (1 Chron. 6:31, 39); the other was a secretary under King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1, 18). We cannot be dogmatic about which Asaph wrote this psalm. What we can be sure of is that it was written by someone close to a godly king of Israel.
David, Hezekiah, and Josiah are considered the godliest kings that Israel has ever known (see 2 Kings 18:5; 23:25; Acts 13:22). A man in one of their courts named Asaph wrote Psalm 50. He was obviously heavily influenced by the king, because this psalm has an incredibly high view of God, as we will see over the next few days.
Please read Psalm 50:1-6.
As Asaph begins this psalm, he imagines God calling Israel to court. When the psalm continues, God will accuse Israel of a specific crime, but we will wait to dive into that until tomorrow. For now, notice how God calls Israel to court.
Any good court will have witnesses. If it is a really important trial, then really important witnesses will be called. For this trial, God “calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people.” God has created the heavens – both the spiritual realm and the skies above. God has created the sun, and He providentially causes it to rise in the east and set in the west. God has also created the earth, and everything that dwells upon it. Every aspect of His Creation obeys His will… except His people! So, God has called the rest of His creation together to serve as witnesses, “that He may judge his people.”
Notice that, though God calls all of the heavens and earth to serve, He is not calling them to serve as judges over His people. God is the judge; God is the one who will decide if His people have done right or wrong. But God will not do this in a corner; He will judge His people before all the earth.
After the witnesses are gathered, God brings in the accused: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Tomorrow we will go a little deeper into this summons, as God is using sarcasm to state His case against His people. They have made a covenant with sacrifices, and they think that makes them right with God, but they are neglecting the proper attitude that is supposed to accompany their sacrifices. God will prove that His chosen people have neglected their covenant, and the heavens will declare God righteous in His judgment.
Whether or not you can picture this celestial trial taking place, it creates a striking reminder that God is the Judge. We sometimes think that we are doing the right things according to our own conscience, or according to what society says we should do. But our opinions and the opinions of other men and women don’t ultimately matter. God Himself is the Judge. We will all one day stand before Him, and He will judge us righteously, according to His standard. Let us live our lives with that future judgment in mind.
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