Yesterday, we began our study of Psalm 50 with God calling heaven and earth as witnesses while He brings His charge against His people. Today, we will see what the charge is not. On Monday, we will finally see what the charge is.
Please read Psalm 50:7-15.
In these verses, we see the pride of mankind.
God has used the language and customs of men to relate to us. With Abraham, God used the language of “covenant” and walked through split sacrifices, as was the custom, to show Abraham that God would surely keep His part of the covenant. With Moses, God used written language, and actually wrote His Law on two stone tablets for Moses to bring to Israel. Of course, Moses broke those tablets when he saw the gross sin that Israel was committing while he had been communing with God, but then God graciously wrote His Law again. In the times of the Judges, God raised up enemies to punish Israel when they sinned, and He raised up judges to deliver Israel when they repented.
Perhaps these instances (among many others) of God lowering Himself to place His grace toward mankind in terms that we could understand, had the wrong effect on His people. Rather than realizing that God is so good, and so gracious, and so faithful to an undeserving people, Israel began to assume that God was blessing them because they were good and faithful. After all, God had made a covenant with them, and they were keeping it, weren’t they? God told them to make certain sacrifices on certain days, and they were good at keeping this routine. Wasn’t that the deal? Didn’t God just want them to perform the religious rituals that honored Him? They were certainly doing that. So they should be good with God, right?
Unfortunately, many people today have this same misunderstanding of God. We think if we do enough good—if we go to church regularly, give our tithe, volunteer, and even have a daily routine of devotions—then God will be happy with us. So, we go through the motions, never really devoting ourselves to God, but trying to do enough to make Him happy; making sure we check off all the boxes.
The trouble with this notion is that we mistakenly assume that God needs something from us. We think thoughts like, “God, I know that the pastor wants to build an addition to the church, so don’t worry, I’ll sacrifice my money for your church (but you owe me, God!)” or “God, I heard that they need more volunteers for VBS, so don’t worry, I’ll step up and sacrifice my evenings to help you out.”
But God doesn’t need anything from us! Nor did He need anything from Israel. Yes, they were faithful to keep their sacrifices, but God didn’t need their sacrifices. So, He tells them “not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you.” Essentially saying, “You think you know what I want, so you keep your routines of sacrifices, but that’s not what I want. Yes, you give all the sacrifices, but it’s not like I need them.”
Why do we think that God needs our tithe or our time? God has created “every beast of the forest…. The cattle on a thousand hills… the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field.” Everything that we could possible give to God is already His! We are simply stewards whom God entrusts with some of His possessions. We give back to God, not because He needs our sacrifices, but because He wants us to experience the joy of giving. He wants us to be grateful for all that He has provided, and to joyfully give a portion back to Him.
So, yes, we should give to God, but it’s not about what we give or how much we give, it’s about how we give. The widow put in her two mites and this pleased God more than the rich person’s gift because she gave all that she had. God loves a cheerful giver, but despises a reluctant giver.
Israel was faithful to give to God; she is not on trial for failing to keep her part of the covenant. But she gave for the wrong reasons. Her reluctant sacrifices do not excuse the evil that is in her heart. Rather than have us give out of duty or obligation, God wants us to give out of thankfulness and joy.
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