Psalm fifty was a gift from God to me this morning.
I have been surrounded by depressing circumstances recently. Many conversations with those who themselves are struggling with depression (it is that time of year is it not?); confronted on a daily basis with the senseless violence and abuse that dominates the news (both locally and globally); and discouraged by those who predict more ‘doom and gloom’ as they peer dimly into the near future (both from the secular and religious press). The difficulty is, depression breeds depression. It is hard not to succumb to a spirit of hopelessness.
Thus the gift of Psalm 50.
Psalm 50 is a psalm of judgment- which means it is a psalm of ‘good news’. The psalmist describes a scene in the heavenly court where God calls the world to account – ‘He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people….’ v. 5.
How is this good news? It is good news in that it asserts that the Creator’s purposes for and in his creation will not be thwarted; that the evil that presently infects and affects all things will not ‘win’, nor will it even ‘last’. THAT is good news; THAT is something to celebrate; THAT is something to hold onto as we deal with our depressing circumstances.
But remember, the psalm is a Psalm of Judgment directed towards God’s people – both those who are ‘faithful’ (v. 7-15) and those who are not (v. 16 – 23). To the first group God’s issues an invitation; to the second, a warning; but note well that the content of the two are exactly the same!
‘Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving’ (v.14) is matched by ‘The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me’ (v. 23); ‘Perform your vows to the Most High’ (v. 14) is echoed by ‘to one who orders his way rightly’; and finally ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me’ (v 15) is paired with ‘I will show the salvation of God’ (v. 23).
Whenever God speaks, and to whomever he speaks, the message remains the same.
IF we are to experience ‘God’s salvation’ – that is, to participate in what God has planned for his creation; THEN we need to ‘order our ways aright’; BUT the only way we can hope to do that is if we first ‘offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving’ – that is, if we make our first priority the worship of God.
If you are struggling with depression (or even if you are not), why don’t you stop right now and ‘give thanks’; stop right this moment and worship your Creator and Redeemer. That small sacrificial act will, by God’s grace, enable you to ‘order your way rightly’, because it will place you in the presence of the One who alone can ‘deliver you.’
While you are at it, why not ‘vow’ to make this ‘invitation’ a habitual practice of your life.