The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 50

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 19, 2014


IN fire and storm the Lord comes forth to chide and instruct the people of His Covenant. He does not find fault with any neglect of sacrificial worship on their part, since their holocausts are ever before Him: but He declares to them that animal sacrifices have, of themselves, no value for Him. The sacrifice which He delights in is the sacrifice of thanks and prayer. In verse 16 the chiding of God is addressed harshly to the hypocrites among His people, who have His Law always on their lips, but reject it in their conduct. These may have thought that their professions could deceive the Lord : now He shows them their error. They also must know, that only by sacrifices of genuine praise can they honour the Lord, and secure His help.

A Temple was still standing at the time the poem was composed, and, most likely, that Temple was the Temple of Solomon. The sacrificial ritual was still apparently, more perfect than it is known to have been in the second temple. The fundamental thought of the poem, that praise and prayer are better than the blood of animal offerings, is familiar in the period of the oldest literary prophecy. Cf. Hosea 6:6; Isa 1:11 ff; Micah 6:6 ff. We are, therefore, fully justified in regarding this psalm as pre-exilic.

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