Lectionary Year B
March 2, 2003
Step V: Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features
(JFC) This lection aims through all verses toward God's being "Himself judge". On the way to that climax, God is emphatically described in powerful and glowing terms in what might appear to be attempts to get some handles on such a judging God who wants "His believing ones" to gather around Him, hear from Him and, perhaps, evidently, notice His surroundings from which He speaks and acts. There are two different words for "to judge", !ydI, in verse 4 and jp;v', in the 6th verse. The next most important elements in these lines include Zion and its "perfect beauty" and God's talkativeness. These designations leave lesser important matters to include the heavens, the earth, the sun, fire, a storm raging and the people judged.
B. Smoother Translation
(JFC) 1 A psalm to/of Asaph
The Mighty God, Yahweh speaks and calls to the earth
From the places of the sun's rising to its setting.
2 From Zion with perfection in beauty God is shining forth.
3 Our God comes and will not be silent
a fire burns before Him and a tempestuous storm rages, even exceedingly.
4 He calls to the heavens from above and to the earth in order to judge His people.
5 He says, "Gather unto Me My faithful ones who made My covenant with Me by their sacrifices."
6 And the heavens will declare/proclaim His righteousness/justice for God Himself is about judging. Selah
C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) In his They Cried to the Lord, Patrick D. Miller discerns that, in the 50th Psalm,
God judges not the sacrifices, which are wanted when they express the peoples' honoring God, that God judges, rather it is a way of praising God prayerfully that the Almighty is in the process of evaluating as properly expressing thanks to God who, as 50:15 states, "I will deliver you and you shall glorify me." Can we help but note the order of those two steps? They seem to be: 1) God saves us and then, 2) we thank God for doing so. Jesus died to save us from the guilt of our sinfulness a long time ago, it is an historical fact, inalterable. For that incredible gift, we thank God, which pleases God as honored by us. Miller concludes this part of the article, "The point is reiterated at the end of the Psalm with the final piece of God's instruction: 'Sacrificing/offering thanksgiving . . . glorifies me' (v. 23). Thanksgiving, toda, is what is to be 'sacrificed.' Because the toda included sacrifice, it cannot be ruled out that what is meant here is the whole of the toda - thanksgiving, proclamation, sacrifice. But the formulation is moving toward the words of thanksgiving replacing the sacrifice of thanksgiving as the appropriate response to God when complaints and laments have been prayed and heard." We might have here a classical "Gospel and (THEN, thereafter and THEN and NOW) Response".
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