This psalm is speaking for God as He corrects His people. “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!” (verse 22).
God is judging His people in this psalm. He is calling them to bring not just their words and rituals as a sacrifice but their hearts to truly praise Him. Israel was ‘going through the motions’ of honoring their covenant with God. They were bringing the daily required sacrifices. They were performing the proper services. But their hearts were not in what they were doing.
My bible helps tells me that the people were treating the sacrifices like a “bribe” being offered to God. Acting as if He was so in need of what was being offered that He would do anything and overlook anything to get these ‘treats’. God says “NOT SO!” He doesn’t NEED anything from man.
God clearly speaks through the psalmist when He says that EVERYTHING on earth is His to begin with. He has NO NEED for man to provide Him food. He doesn’t eat! He derives NO power from the sacrifices man brings.
I’m reminded of a Star Trek episode where the people of the planed being visited by the Enterprise crew had a god that they had to continually bring food to. Its eyes flashed with fire and smoke poured from its mouth when it was hungry. For some reason the Enterprise landing party prevented the people from going to their god and it ran out of power. It was a machine, using the food for fuel to keep the people terrified.
Something else that our God can and does do is listen to us. He hears how we treat our brothers. He even hears what isn’t spoken on the tongue but hides in the heart. He hears when we cry out to Him and against Him. And He is the ONLY one who can rightly judge these matters.
This same God who hears also acts. “But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you” (verse 21b). God saw and heard EVERYTHING that was going on, and though He was patient, He wasn’t going to let it go on any longer. Those in the wrong would be punished for their deeds. But that’s not the end of the point He wanted to make with this psalm.
His GREATEST point was in calling His children to come back to Him in the right way. He didn’t NEED their ritualistic sacrifices as a source of food but He craved the relationship events. The thanks giving offerings and the vow offerings. The ones that brought the people to Him with overflowing hearts. The ones where the people shared in the offering as though sitting at table with Him. The ones where they invited their neighbors and the poor to partake with them. The ones built on relationship.
These are still the moments that He desires to enjoy with us. Through Jesus’ sacrifice God opened ALL ‘sacrifices’ up to relationship. No more rituals are required to approach Him. It is only through relationship that we can reach Him. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Only through that relationship can we have a relationship with God. He desires our companionship. And THAT is why He sent His Son in the first place. Run to Him with open arms and an open heart! He is waiting for ANYONE who is willing to surrender to His love!
Father God, I don’t want to just come out of some obligation. I want to sit with You and enjoy Your presence. I want to feel Your arms around me. I want to listen to Your stories. Put a new fire in me please Father. Stir the coals. Fan the flames.
Forgive me for making our time together into a ritual or ‘habit’. I want freshness in our time Holy Spirit.