Title. A Psalm of Asaph. This is the first of the Psalms of Asaph, but whether the production of that eminent musician, or merely dedicated to him, we cannot tell. The titles of twelve Psalms bear his name, but it could not in all of them be meant to ascribe their authorship to him, for several of these Psalms are of too late a date to have been composed by the same writer as the others. There was an Asaph in David's time, who was one of David's chief musicians, and his family appear to have continued long after in their hereditary office of temple musicians. An Asaph is mentioned as a recorder or secretary in the days of Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:18 , and another was keeper of the royal forests under Artaxerxes. That Asaph did most certainly write some of the Psalms is clear from 2 Chronicles 29:30 , where it is recorded that the Levites were commanded to "sing praises unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer," but that other Asaphic Psalms were not of his composition, but were only committed to his care as a musician, is equally certain from 1 Chronicles 16:7 , where David is said to have delivered a Psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. It matters little to us whether he wrote or sang, for poet and musician are near akin, and if one composes words and another sets them to music, they rejoice together before the Lord.
Division. The Lord is represented as summoning the whole earth to hear his declaration, Psalms 50:1-6 ; he then declares the nature of the worship which he accepts, Psalms 50:7-15 , accuses the ungodly of breaches of the precepts of the second table, Psalms 50:16-21 , and closes the court with a word of threatening, Psalms 50:22 , and a direction of grace, Psalms 50:23 .
Verse 1. The mighty God, even the Lord. El, Elohim, Jehovah, three glorious names for the God of Israel. To render the address the more impressive, these august titles are mentioned, just as in royal decrees the names and dignities of monarchs are placed in the forefront. Here the true God is described as Almighty, as the only and perfect object of adoration and as the self existent One. Hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun until the going down thereof. The dominion of Jehovah extends over the whole earth, and therefore to all mankind is his decree directed. The east and the west are bidden to hear the God who makes his sun to rise on every quarter of the globe. Shall the summons of the great King be despised? Will we dare provoke him to anger by slighting his call?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The exordium or beginning of this Psalm is the most grand and striking that can possibly be imagined -- the speaker GOD, the audience an assembled world! We cannot compare or assimilate the scene here presented to us with any human resemblance; nor do I imagine that earth will ever behold such a day till that hour when the trumpet of the archangel shall sound and shall gather all the nations of the earth from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other; when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, and the sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead that are in them. Barton Bouchier.
Verse 1. El, Elohim, Jehovah has spoken! So reads the Hebrew. Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. (first clause). Some have observed that these three names, El, Elohim, Jehovah, here mentioned, have three very distinct accents set to them, and which being joined to a verb singular (dbd), hath spoken, contains the mystery of the trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine Essence. John Gill.
Verse 1. And called the earth, etc., i.e., all the inhabitants of the earth he has commanded to come as witnesses and spectators of the judgment. Simon de Muis.
Verse 1-5. --
No more shall atheists mock his long delay;
His vengeance sleeps no more; behold the day!
Behold! -- the Judge descends; his guards are nigh,
Tempests and fire attend him down the sky.
When God appears, all nature shall adore him.
While sinners tremble, saints rejoice before him.
Heaven, earth and hell, draw near; let all things come,
To hear my justice, and the sinner's doom;
But gather first my saints (the Judge commands),
Bring them, ye angels, from their distant lands.
When Christ returns, wake every cheerful passion,
And shout, ye saints; he comes for your salvation.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. It unspeakably concerns all men to know what God has spoken. W. S. Plumer.
- Who has spoken? The Mighty, not men or angels, but God himself.
- To whom has he spoken? To all nations -- all ranks -- all characters. This calls for,
- Reverence -- it is the voice of God.
- Hope -- because he condescends to speak to rebels.
- Where has he spoken?
- In creation.
- In providence.
- In his word. G. R.
- The court called in the name of the King of kings.
- The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat; Psalms 50:2-3 .
- The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8 .
- The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6 .
- God's call to man.
- Man's call to God.
WORKS WRITTEN ABOUT THE FIFTIETH PSALM IN SPURGEON'S DAY
In the old quarto edition (1634) of "Mr. Paul Bayne's Commentary on Colossians," among the "divers places of Scripture briefly explained," there is an exposition of Psalms 50:21-23 , of this Psalm, entitled, "The Terror of God displayed against carnal security."