Forgetting God - Psalm 50 Sermon November Prayer Service
Prayer Service November 4th - 2015. Rev. Ted A. Giese, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina SK. Psalm 50 - Forgetting God
The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes; He does not keep silence;
before Him is a devouring fire,
around Him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that He may judge His people:
“Gather to Me My faithful ones,
who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare His righteousness,
for God Himself is judge!
“Hear, O My people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before Me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is Mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is Mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are Mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite My statutes
or take My covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
and you cast My words behind you.
If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.
“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Psalm 50 and 51 really go together - tonight's Psalm, Psalm 50 asks a question that Psalm 51 answers. The question can be boiled down to this, "What does the proper attitude toward God look like?" and to put a finer point on it, "What is your attitude toward God?" Psalm 51 paints that picture, the picture of a good a proper attitude toward God - tonight's Psalm, Psalm 50 paints the opposite and sets up the question: As it paints that picture of a hostile attitude toward God Psalm 50 brings down the hammer on those who have become complacent, wilfully ignorant, and prideful.
A quick reading of the text might have a person walk away thinking that God was upset with the nuts and bolts of the worship of the people, as if the very formula that they were following - the rituals, the liturgy, the music - was the problem, that they had somehow grown to do it in a rout way and this was displeasing to God, but that's not the case. God says, "Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before Me." Remember it was God who told them how to worship Him and their worship, the sacrifices that were continually before God, had a point and purpose: They pointed to the coming Messiah and the forgiveness of sin that Jesus would win for them at the cross, they pointed to the covenant, to the promise made. The blood Jesus shed for them at the cross on Good Friday flows backward in time like an hour hand on a clock running in reverse bringing His forgiveness - the forgiveness of God to them and to their sin. This blood of Christ, Jesus' sacrificed body at the cross also travels forward to you and your sin. This is the heart of the Divine Service - it is Jesus' heart delivered to you as a gift, delivered to them as a gift. That is what is happening in worship? When we come together for the Divine Service that what is happening, "Gottesdienst" God serving you - Divine Service - Jesus as Servant giving Himself to you for your forgiveness. His Divine Service towards you.
Now consider the Psalm - The people, although they were doing things in the technical right way, had gotten into the frame of mind where they thought it was about them doing something for God. As if God was like one of the poor and shabby idols of the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Ammonites and the rest of the neighbours of the Children of Israel: As if God needed to eat their offering to survive. They'd flipped the idea that the sacrifice was about God fulfilling his promises to it being about feeding God food - to which The Mighty One, God the LORD says, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are Mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?" The answer is no, He doesn't - Even the idea that somehow offerings are to enrich the riches of God is backward, He reminds them, "I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is Mine." Basically He says to them, 'It all belongs to Me first, it all belongs to Me now, it will all belong to Me in the future. It's not yours to give, you aren't doing Me a favour when you give it to Me like I'm a beggar in desperate need.' The wrong attitude is one where you are the giver and God is the receiver - the right attitude is one where you are the receiver and God is the giver. If you are to give God anything give Him you sin, give Him an honest confession of sin and He will give you the forgiveness of Christ Jesus won at the cross.
But what about giving offerings to the church? What about giving offerings into the offering plate? Is that not me giving something? "Heavenly Father we thank you for these gifts that now return to You, we pray that by them more people would come to know Christ Jesus Your Son and place their hope and faith and trust in Him, Amen." The gifts we give in the categories of time, talents and treasures are given to God but they are for the benefit of your neighbour, by them the church is able to operate as a place of preaching, teaching and sharing the Gospel of Jesus, it facilitates the right administration of the Sacraments, guaranteeing that here in this place Baptisms happen, and Holy Communion is provided. Rest assured the church is God's church and if people stopped coming here, if they stopped giving offerings, if no one helped in any way - Jesus would simple give His Gospel where people would gladly hear it, learn, mark and inwardly digest it. If your attitude is ungrateful the Gospel will go away to where it'll be received with joy, with gratitude.
Martin Luther once said (1524), "Let us remember our former misery, and the darkness in which we dwelt. Germany, I am sure, has never before heard so much of God's word as it is hearing today; certainly we read nothing of it in History. If we let it slip by without thanks and honour, I fear we shall suffer a still more dreadful darkness and plague. Beloved Germans, buy while the market is close at hand! Gather while the sun is shining and while there is good weather! Make use of God’s grace and Word while it is here! For you should know this: God’s Word and grace is a passing downpour (a rainstorm), which does not return to where it has already been. It has been with the Jews; but what’s lost is lost, and they now have nothing. [Saint Paul] brought it to Greece; what’s lost is lost, and they now have the Turks. Rome and Latin-speaking regions have also had it; what’s lost is lost, and they now have the pope. And you Germans dare not think that you will have it forever, for the ingratitude and disdain will not let it remain. Therefore take hold and hang on tightly, while you are able to grab and to hold. Lazy hands are bound to have a hard year."
What does the Lord truly desire then, Psalm 50 says, 'Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Him in the day of trouble; He will deliver you, and you shall glorify Him.” Pray - pray to God, pray prayers of Thanksgiving, pray prayers where you pray for help, remember the Lord. Be honest about your failings, your weaknesses, your sin. Come to Him for help. Receive correction and discipline from God, for the love of your neighbour seek a better way of living.
God warns you in Psalm 50 saying, "you thought that I was one like yourself." He is not, Psalm 50 says, "before Him is a devouring fire, around Him a mighty tempest. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people." In His judgment He says, "What right have you to recite My statutes or take My covenant on your lips," He says this to a complacent people who come to worship wrongly thinking that they do God a favour by being there yet today the situation may even be worse - today people don't bother going to the House of God at all - not even out of misplaced courtesy. Psalm 50 warns that when they forget God they are in danger of being torn apart by their enemies, torn apart by sin, death, the devil and the World. The terror in this Psalm is the thought that a person could be left spiritually torn apart with no Gospel available to them because God’s Word and grace, that passing downpour (that passing rainstorm), will have gone away to another place.
Psalm 50 is heavy with law, when God says, "For you hate discipline, and you cast My words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son," when Psalm 50 says this we all stand convicted, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and we know we have done these things, or other things, and in our sin it seemed like there was no condemnation for a season, there was that little time when it didn't seem to be adding up, all was well and if there was a God He was eerily, "silent," yet remember God didn't remain silent forever. Do you remember the day that you heard most clearly the word of God's law. The time when it crushed you the hardest. Where it tore you apart? The moment you realised that you were in fact "dead in your trespasses," and that it was in the hearing of God's word that, "God made (you) alive together with Him, having forgiven [you] all [your] trespasses." By that word the Holy Spirit places Jesus into your hands and gives you the strength to hold fast to Him and in place of God's word of law, with all its requirements, a better word rushed in - the sweet sound of His word of peace, grace and mercy filling your ears with forgiveness.
Psalm 50 predominantly is the picture of what the un-repentant life looks like Psalm 51 shows you what the repentant life looks like.
I leave you with this: The prophet Samuel came one day to King Saul, the first man to be king in Israel, and because of Saul's repeated un-repentance Samuel delivered the message, not unlike the message of Psalm 50 and Psalm 51 when he said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which He commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." The man after God's own heart is King David, what does that look like? We sing the words in the offertory, "Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." When God gathered David to Himself to judge David for David's sins, David did not forget God rather David called upon the Lord in that day of trouble asking for mercy, asking to have a perfect heart created in him. And whose heart, whose clean heart would David receive in place of his heart of iniquity? David receives the heart of the one who offers thanksgiving as His sacrifice, David receives the heart of the one who glorifies God by His life, the one who orders His way rightly in all things, David receives the heart of Jesus in place of his own heart.
Psalm 50 says to you, to me, to everyone: Come to The Mighty One, God the LORD, with an open hand when He call you to Himself, come to receive the gift of Jesus - that's it, "simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Saviour, or I die." Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Genesis 15
 Luther’s Works Vol 45 "The Christian in Society II," Concordia Publishing House 1962, pp. 352-353.
 Romans 3:23
 Colossians 2:13
 1 Samuel 13:13-14
 Lutheran Service Book, Divine Service III , Concordia Publishing House 2006, pg 192-193.
 Lutheran Service Book, "Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me" Stanza 3, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #761.