The Acceptable Sacrifice
1A psalm of Asaph.
The God of gods, the LORD,
has spoken and summoned the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.a
2From Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.b
3Our God comes and will not be silent!
Devouring fire precedes him,
it rages strongly around him.c
4He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth to judge his people:
5“Gather my loyal ones to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
6The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for God himself is the judge.d
7“Listen, my people, I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you;
God, your God, am I.
8Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
your burnt offerings are always before me.
9I will not take a bullock from your house,
or he-goats from your folds.e
10For every animal of the forest is mine,
beasts by the thousands on my mountains.
11I know every bird in the heights;
whatever moves in the wild is mine.
12Were I hungry, I would not tell you,
for mine is the world and all that fills it.f
13Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of he-goats?
14Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;g
fulfill your vows to the Most High.
15Then call on me on the day of distress;h
I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.”
16But to the wicked God says:
“Why do you recite my commandments
and profess my covenant with your mouth?
17You hate discipline;
you cast my words behind you!
18If you see a thief, you run with him;
with adulterers you throw in your lot.
19You give your mouth free rein for evil;
you yoke your tongue to deceit.
20You sit and speak against your brother,
slandering your mother’s son.
21When you do these things should I be silent?
Do you think that I am like you?
I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes.
22“Now understand this, you who forget God,
lest I start ripping apart and there be no rescuer.
23Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me;
I will let him whose way is steadfast
look upon the salvation of God.”i
* [Psalm 50] A covenant lawsuit stating that the sacrifice God really wants is the sacrifice of praise accompanied by genuine obedience (cf. Mi 6:1–8). It begins with a theophany and the summoning of the court (Ps 50:1–6). Then in direct address God explains what is required of the faithful (Ps 50:7–15), rebukes the hypocritical worshiper (Ps 50:16–21), and concludes with a threat and a promise (Ps 50:22–23; cf. Is 1:19–20).