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Psalms 50:8-17

Context

50:8 I am not condemning 1  you because of your sacrifices,

or because of your burnt sacrifices that you continually offer me. 2 

50:9 I do not need to take 3  a bull from your household

or goats from your sheepfolds.

50:10 For every wild animal in the forest belongs to me,

as well as the cattle that graze on a thousand hills. 4 

50:11 I keep track of 5  every bird in the hills,

and the insects 6  of the field are mine.

50:12 Even if I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and all it contains belong to me.

50:13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls?

Do I drink the blood of goats? 7 

50:14 Present to God a thank-offering!

Repay your vows to the sovereign One! 8 

50:15 Pray to me when you are in trouble! 9 

I will deliver you, and you will honor me!” 10 

50:16 God says this to the evildoer: 11 

“How can you declare my commands,

and talk about my covenant? 12 

50:17 For you hate instruction

and reject my words. 13 

1 tn Or “rebuking.”

2 tn Heb “and your burnt sacrifices before me continually.”

3 tn Or “I will not take.”

4 tn Heb “[the] animals on a thousand hills.” The words “that graze” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The term בְּהֵמוֹה (bÿhemot, “animal”) refers here to cattle (see Ps 104:14).

5 tn Heb “I know.”

6 tn The precise referent of the Hebrew word, which occurs only here and in Ps 80:13, is uncertain. Aramaic, Arabic and Akkadian cognates refer to insects, such as locusts or crickets.

7 tn The rhetorical questions assume an emphatic negative response, “Of course not!”

8 tn Heb “Most High.” This divine title (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Pss 7:17; 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 47:2.

9 tn Heb “call [to] me in a day of trouble.”

10 sn In vv. 7-15 the Lord makes it clear that he was not rebuking Israel because they had failed to offer sacrifices (v. 8a). On the contrary, they had been faithful in doing so (v. 8b). However, their understanding of the essence of their relationship with God was confused. Apparently they believed that he needed/desired such sacrifices and that offering them would ensure their prosperity. But the Lord owns all the animals of the world and did not need Israel’s meager sacrifices (vv. 9-13). Other aspects of the relationship were more important to the Lord. He desired Israel to be thankful for his blessings (v. 14a), to demonstrate gratitude for his intervention by repaying the vows they made to him (v. 14b), and to acknowledge their absolute dependence on him (v. 15a). Rather than viewing their sacrifices as somehow essential to God’s well-being, they needed to understand their dependence on him.

11 tn Heb “evil [one].” The singular adjective is used here in a representative sense; it refers to those within the larger covenant community who have blatantly violated the Lord’s commandments. In the psalms the “wicked” (רְשָׁעִים, rÿshaim) are typically proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander, and cheat others (Ps 37:21).

12 tn Heb “What to you to declare my commands and lift up my covenant upon your mouth?” The rhetorical question expresses sarcastic amazement. The Lord is shocked that such evildoers would give lip-service to his covenantal demands, for their lifestyle is completely opposed to his standards (see vv. 18-20).

13 tn Heb “and throw my words behind you.”



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