Why do you pray? Read your Bible? Tithe? Do you do these things to earn God’s favor? Today’s psalm explores the difference between the things we do that truly honor God and the things we do which are a thinly disguised attempt to impress God with our own righteousness.
In most psalms, Israel addresses God. In today’s reading, God addresses Israel. Verses 1–6 describe God summoning the heavens and the earth “that he may judge his people” (v. 4). God’s message to Israel begins with a reminder. In the ancient world, people offered sacrifices in order to feed the gods. God makes it clear that He does not need their sacrifices in order to satisfy His hunger (v. 12). He owns every animal of the forest and the “cattle on a thousand hills” (v. 10). Furthermore, God does not eat bulls or goats (v. 13).
Sacrifices were intended to teach Israel about the nature of sin and its atonement as well as to express thanks to God. However, the sacrificial system could easily be misunderstood. Israel could have thought that if they just did the right rituals and sacrificed the right offerings, then they would be acceptable. God strongly counters that idea. It is not enough to sacrifice in the right way, the motives of the worshiper matter. God accused some in Israel of stealing, false testimony, and adultery and then coming to sacrifice and reciting the law before God (vv. 16–21). This kind of worship is abhorrent to God who warns, “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with no one to rescue you” (v. 22). However, to those who honor Him in the right way, He promises, “I will show my salvation” (v. 23).
>> Our relationship with God impacts our entire life. Faith in Christ should not only determine how we spend our Sunday mornings but also how we live our lives for the rest of the week. We cannot allow the truth that Jesus died for our sin to become justification for sinning (Rom. 6:1–2).
Our prayers and worship are not limited to Sunday! We are to be consistent and faithful in our walk with Christ every day. Thank you, God, for Your grace and for the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit.