Lectionary Year B
March 2, 2003
Psalm 50:1-6

Step IV: Cross-Section

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) Early believers in and followers of Jesus were accustomed to singing and praying the Psalms. They were brought up in the Jewish traditions, when and where liturgies generated and came from Psalms. They were familiar with hearing of and from God. For instance, Psalm 50 begins by noting God's intention to be heard. They extolled God as high and lifted up, as residing in beauty bordering on if not actually exemplifying perfection. Fires and storms were recognized as accompanying epiphanies of God's presence and readiness to speak and even to act. Declarations from heaven were almost commonplace to these ancient Christians. God's "righteous judgment will be revealed", according to Paul, in Romans 2:5, when sinners store up sinfulness on the day of wrath. And, Romans 14:10 warns that, "all will stand before the judgment seat of God."

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) Psalm 50 portrays God as majestic and vocal, just as we read frequently throughout Exodus 19, 20 and 24, for example. Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 1 also begin, poetically, with God's calling for the attention of the heavens and the earth. That marvelous story in Genesis 15, especially verses 7-18, pictures the making/cutting a covenant in the Old Testament milieu. Especially in Psalms of Lamentation, according to Westermann in his Theology of the Old Testament, God is called the God who judges the whole world, as in Psalms 7:7-9; 56:8; 59:6 and 14.
Then in I Maccabees 2:12, Mattathias sees the blasphemous ruins of Judah and Jerusalem, which he names, "our holy place, our beauty, and our glory (which) have been laid waste; . . ." designating a manifestation of God's glory. And, in verse 37 of that second chapter of I Maccabees 2, the heavens and the earth witness the eventualities of those God judges.

C. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These aristocrats would appreciate the beauty with which the Psalmist envisions Zion/Jerusalem from and upon which God shines forth. The symbolical pictures attempting to portray God's judgment on both heavenly and earthly objects could get these philosophers' attention. They surely would take advantage of the metaphorical elements in these lines to try to get at a definite description of how God judges all.

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