Topic: Old Testament Passage: Psalm 50:1–50:23
Please grab your Bibles, and if you don’t have one, you’re welcome
to grab a paperback copy in the back. While I lay out a little
introduction, I invite you to turn to our text today which is found in
We’ve been preaching through the book of Matthew for numerous
months now, but to provide a little summer break, for August and a
little bit of September we’ll be doing a little mini-series called
Summer Songs, which will be based out of the book of Psalms.
Why the Psalms?
So we’re shifting to the psalms, in part, because it’s good to move
around a little between old/new testament and between different
types of genres – to get the full picture and expression of God’s
self-revelation that we find in the Bible. In reading the psalms we
see that God isn’t just an ordered God of linear, prose writing, but
that He’s a God of passion and perfect emotion as well.
We also turn to the Psalms because they’ve have been the church’s
songbook for thousands of years – that’s why we read passages like
Colossians 3:16 where Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your
hearts to God.”
Not only that, but in the psalms you can find pretty much every
major doctrine of the faith. That’s why Martin Luther called them a
little Bible, and the summary of the Old Testament”.
And we turn to the psalms because they’re so intensely raw, and
personal and relatable. There’s no varnish our veneer to get past.
Someone once said, “there’s a psalm for every sigh of the soul.” In
all 150 of the psalms we see a wide range of human emotion and
experience including, lament, praise, contrition, thanksgiving,
desperation, celebrating God’s law, expressions of doubt followed by
bold professions of faith and more.
Psalm 50, our text for today is a psalm of Asaph. It deals extensively
with what kinds of sacrifice are pleasing to God. It’s a prophetic
psalm, calling God’s people to walk in covenant relationship with
Last week, Chris talked broadly about the varieties of talents God
has given us and how we’re called to faithfully use those gifts for
Him and to advance his Kingdom. I want to drill down today on that
idea of using our talents well to talk specifically about using our
financial resources well – I want to talk about financial giving.
If you’ve been part of a church for any amount of time, you’ve no
doubt heard a sermon on the same topic. My hope is that though this
may be a familiar and admittedly uncomfortable topic, that I’d share
it and you’d hear it with a new heart.
So why talk about giving? It’s taboo in our culture. It’s
uncomfortable. We’re just not supposed to talk about money. Well
the fact of the matter is, as important as heaven and hell are, as
we’ve been studying in Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus actually spent
more time speaking about money and possessions. In fact, there are
over 2,300 verses in the Bible that talk about money—more than
there are verses about faith and prayer combined!
So as a people of God who believe this book is the inspired word of
God, we have to look at that and say, I guess this is important to God
and we should pay attention.
Randy, Chris and I were at a Acts29 pastors conference in Salem this
past April and one of the pastors there, Josh McPherson, said
something that resonated with me once I heard it. He said that there
are 3 reasons, 3 I’s, for why church members and regular attenders
don’t financially support the local church they’re a part of. The 3 I’s
are Ignorance, Inability or Indifference
• Ignorance-just don’t know
• Inability-know, but there’s no money in the bank account to
give, possibly because managing finances well and planning with
intentionality isn’t a strong suit
• Indifference - know, and have the means but don’t care about
walking in obedience to what God commands
Through the course of the sermon over this morning I’ll address all
three of those head, hand and heart issues. Ultimately what I hope
you walk away with today is a vision and an understanding for how
God has given us this gift of giving to live fuller, richer, deeper, more
joy-filled lives of trust in Him. With that introduction, lets PRAY and
then dive in to our text.
The Holy, awesome nature of God
 The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its
 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
 Our God comes; he does not keep
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
 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by
 The heavens declare his
for God himself is judge! Selah
Right off the bat, God, through the psalmist makes it clear that He is
the supreme ruler. He uses 3 different names of his to emphasize
his all-encompassing authority over creation and His creatures. He’s
the Mighty One. He is God-or the three-in-one God, and He is the
self-existent One. The I AM as He revealed himself to Moses.
From that authority he summons all of creation, from the east to the
west, from the heavens to the earth, to gather as he passes
judgement on his covenant people. This judgement though flowing
forth from the devouring fire and tempest of God’s holy presence,
mercifully, isn’t a final judgment. It’s a warning for the nation of
Israel to stop and listen and consider their relationship to this God
who is the I AM, the one who made them a people in the first place,
the one who caused them to grow in number. The one who delivered
them from Pharaoh out of Eqypt and who established them in the
promised land after driving out numerous other nations. The One
who now shines forth from within their midst in Zion, the promised
land. This God speaks and does not keep silent. Let’s hear what he
has to say in v7 and following
Call to the faithful covenant members to repent and remember
 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify
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
 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a
 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.”
In forming the nation of Israel, God had instituted a sacrificial
system that we can read about in the books of Exodus and Leviticus,
as a means for them to have relationship with him. He is a holy,
sinless God, and they, like us, were a broken and sinful people. Thus,
they needed a means to satisfy God’s just wrath over their sin, so
He gave them this sacrificial system as a way of maintaining their
relationship and devotion to him.
The sacrificial system made clear 2 important truths: our great
NEED for dealing with our sin and His great MERCY for providing a
means for doing so. The sacrificial system wasn’t a means for
earning the right to be God’s covenant people. It was the God-given
evidence that they were already His chosen people.
There were many kinds of sacrifices that needed to be offered to
God, depending upon the need or the occasion. Five major kinds
stand out. There were burnt offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings,
grain offerings and peace offerings.
So we see in v8 this reference to a particular kind of sacrifice called
a burnt offering. If you read Leviticus 6 and Exodus 29 you’ll see that
the burnt offering was to be sacrificed morning and evening. The
fire on the altar was never to go out. It wasn’t an offering for
specific sins committed. The sin and guilt offerings served that
purpose. This twice-daily offering served as a constant reminder of
how far short the Israelites fell from Gods perfection.
We read in verse 8 that it wasn’t that Israel was failing to perform
this sacrifice with punctuality. You almost get the sense that God
wished they’d stop it already when he says they’re CONTINUALLY
before me…I won’t accept any more of your bulls and goats!” They
were flawless with their deadlines but failing with their devotion.
Their hearts weren’t in it.
They misunderstood the purpose of the sacrifice, thinking that God
had created the sacrificial system because he needed to be fed.
They thought this was his meal plan, that he, like the pagan gods of
the nations that surrounded them, needed to be sustained by His
creatures. They were slogging through the routine thinking they
were the bbq pitmasters trying to put food on the table to satisfy His
He sternly rebukes Israel and rhetorically asks, “Do I eat the flesh of
bulls or drink the blood of goats?” The obvious answer is NO. But God
goes further and says, in effect, “let’s imagine I DID in fact get
hungry and needed bulls and goats to be sustained. Would I really
ask you to bring me my meals? I, the Mighty One, God – The LORD? I
OWN IT ALL. I AM the Maker and Creator. The cattle on a thousand
hills are mine. So even IF I was hungry, I wouldn’t bother you. You
bring nothing to the table. I bring everything.”
Israel had it completely backwards. God instituted sacrifices not
because He needs us but because we need him. We need his
fellowship and his communion and his nearness. They thought that
relationship management with God was something that could be
automated with processes. There was no desire on their part to
genuinely know Him – only to appease him and keep Him at bay.
We’re too smart to fall into that trap of course. We know that God
isn’t impressed with what we bring to Him that we can’t buy his
favor with our sacrifices.
We talk a lot here at Damascus Road about there always being 2
ditches to avoid. In this case, in our effort to avoid the ditch of
legalism that Israel had fallen into we fall into the ditch & license
and live by a false gospel of cheap grace that expects nothing of
us. It’s as though we say, “Hey, I know Jesus was the perfect
sacrifice on the cross, in my place, so there’s nothing left for me to
offer or to sacrifice to God.
There’s certainly a ton of truth here regarding our justification.
There’s nothing to do. Christ said from the cross – it is finished. Our
debt is paid in full. But we still have our own modern day, 21st
century sacrifices to offer up to God, and I’ll demonstrate that
through Psalm 50 and other texts.
Again, we get confused about the primary purpose of the sacrificial
system. It was never primarily about the cleansing and removal of
sin. It was that, but not only that. That was the means, not the end.
The end goal of the sacrificial system was always about knowing
Sin puts a giant rift between us and God and makes knowing him and
sharing friendship with him impossible. And that’s our calling – to
know Him. Hosea puts it this way in chapter 6:
“Come, let us return to the LORD;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
So our calling is to know the Lord, and here’s the amazing thing
church – God wants to be known by us. And not only that, but he
pursues us and provides so many ways for us to know him.
Here’s the beautiful part about Psalm 50: God says in vs 14-15,
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to
the Most High.” When I first read this I thought to myself, “ok, God
wants us to say thank you a lot.”
EXAMPLE: THANKSGIVING DINNER
But when you dig a little deeper you discover that a “sacrifice of
thanksgiving” was a specific thing. It was a kind of Peace offering –
one of the 5 kinds of offerings I referenced earlier. But there was
something unique to this one kind of offering that didn’t apply to the
guilt offering or the sin offering or the burnt offering.
The sacrifice of thanksgiving was offered to God whenever someone
experienced and unexpected blessing, not in response to a person
needing to be cleansed of sin. So whereas with every other kind of
sacrifice the animal’s body was completely burnt up OR much of it
was burnt up and a portion went to feed and sustain the priests,
with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the worshipper and his family
bringing the sacrifice got to share in the fruit of the sacrifice and eat
a significant amount of the roasted meat. That’s because the
primary purpose of this sacrifice was for the worshipper to share a
meal with God, with God serving as the host.
In ancient Jewish culture, to break bread with someone and share a
meal was an intensely personal and relational experience. It was a
way of communicating between both parties the depth of harmony
and shalom and wholeness that existed between them and in the
relationship. So God, the Mighty One, the supreme deity is saying to
his people, “recognize the unexpected, undeserved, unmerited
favor that I’ve shown to you in making you my covenant people, and
that as my people, I will meet all your needs if you just trust me and
press into me. Express your trust in my through this sacrifice and
let’s celebrate our relationship and my goodness together. “
So what does that have to do with us today, several thousand years
later? I assume you all left your spotless, unblemished cattle and
goats at home – that they aren’t tied up in the back of your vehicles
just waiting to go to the altar. We don’t offer up animals anymore.
That was part of the ceremonial law that was put aside under the
new covenant made through Jesus’ blood.
We certainly do, though, under that same new covenant, have a
responsibility to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving in like manner from
our finances. We’re invited, exhorted and commanded through the
New Testament to be generous givers, but as a whole, we’re not.
Christians today are only giving at 2.5% per capita, but during the
Great Depression it was 3.3%! Talk about a Great Depression – that in
our age of affluence, convenience and ease we hoard more for
ourselves and give less to God. In doing so, we are robbing God.
But it’s not just sad because of all the lost mission and ministry that
the church can’t engage or invest in. It’s sad because it’s STUPID and
because of what it reflects about our hearts. Turn with me to
Matthew 6:19-20, which we covered many months ago:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth
and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust
destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Jesus isn’t appealing to just altruism here – do the right thing
because it’s right. He’s saying, “hey, I made you so I know your
passions and desires, that you’re wired to seek treasure. Well I’ll tell
you where to find it. It aint here. It’s in the next life.
To borrow an illustration and a quote from Randy Alcorn, if you were
a alive during nearing the end of the civil war and you had a
significant amount of confederate money saved up and you could see
the way the ware was going and that your significant savings would
be worthless in a few more short months, wouldn’t you be a fool not
to look for every opportunity to exchange your treasure for a
currency that was actually going to be worth something when all the
fighting was over? While it’s true that we can’t take a single penny
of our treasure with us, we can send it on ahead with the way we
choose to give and invest it in the kingdom now.
But ultimately being stingy and robbing God isn’t just sad for the
missed mission opportunity, it isn’t just stupid and short-sighted, it’s
scary and sobering.
Picking Matthew 6 back up, we read in v20-24.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The
eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your
whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your
whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is
darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one
and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise
the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:19-24
So my preaching on this subject today, ultimately, isn’t because I’m
trying to fill the church’s savings account or close a budget shortfall.
This church, the bride of Christ, has a husband who is the Mighty
One, God, The Lord who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If the
bride has a need I’m confident that her husband will meet that need
out of the overflow of His abundance.
No, I preach on this because I care about what you are treasuring,
because I care about your hearts. I don’t want you to be lured into
slavery, away from the good news of the gospel by the deceitfulness
that money and cheap grace has on the human heart, whether we’re
rich or poor.
You can’t serve both of them. You’ll either serve money by wishing
you had more and working to get more or by letting all the money
you have consume you OR you’ll serve God, but trusting him with a
portion of the finances he’s entrusted to you. Are we trusting Him
and being generous toward Him? Are we acknowledging His
faithfulness and provision in our lives?
And I don’t just want your obedience in this, though God deserves
that. But I want your joy too. Paul writes in 2 Cor 8: 1-7
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that
has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a
severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their
extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on
their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can
testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging
us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the
saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave
themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he
should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel
in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all
earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this
act of grace also.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-7 ESV)
Ido you see that church. Giving for the Macedonian church wasn’t
drudgery and bondage. It was joy. They were begging for the
opportunity. If you and I lack lack joy in life it might simply be
because money is an idol for you. It’s our “precious and it’s coming
between you and God.
If you’re hearing these words this morning and want to start to make
some changes, I’d suggest you simply start with prayer to God
asking for the grace to want to give. That’s what we just read in 2
Cor – the grace of God poured out on the Macedonian churches is
what led to their begging for the ability to be a part of the relief
effort to the suffering church in Jerusalem. Plead with God for that
freedom to be generous. Plead with Him to change what you
treasure and orient your heart to treasure His Kingdom.
A second step to take would be to start with tithing to your local
church. Paul and Jesus both exhort the church not to muzzle the ox
while it’s threshing out the grain which is another way of saying
don’t withhold financial and material blessing from the church
family that labors to minister to you.
Tithing is just another way of saying tenthing. No, we’re not under
the law’s requirements any more, we’re under grace, but where in
the New Testament do you see the in-breaking of God’s kingdom
through Christ lowering the bar of our moral requirements? Did Jesus
say, “you’ve heard it said you shall not murder. But I say to you just
make sure it’s not in cold blood or pre-meditated.” NO! He raised
the bar and commanded us not to even hate our brother.
So how is giving to God any different? In truth, tithing is really the
training wheels, the starting place of giving to God. Just so you know
I’m not just talking a good, certainly not to boast, Carly and I, by
the same grace that Paul speaks of in 2 Cor 8, gave 13.5% of our
income last year. Beyond making concrete plans to give 10% to the
church, we didn’t have a master plan to get us to 13.5. That’s just
where we landed with all the other gifts we’d given to other nonprofit
or para church organizations we believe in.
Having said that, I also want you to know that we’re not above the
working of the Holy Spirit. In preparing for this sermon and reading
some of Randy Alcorns work, I’ve felt God call us to not be so
nitpicky over whether we tith the 10% off of net or gross. For the
last several years it’s landed roughly somewhere in the middle and
I’ve just felt a strong leading from Him that we need to tithe off the
gross and not get all hung up and making a 10% gift to Him off of the
taxes the federal govt takes that I never even get to see. So start
with the training wheels and go from there. In the big picture you
will not miss the income but you well be satisfied with the joy of
giving to God.
A third step: If you’re going to start or increase your giving, that won’t
happen automatically, especially if you tend to spend most of what
you make. You need to make an plan that’ll help you be regular
and intentional, find ways to short circuit your flesh that just wants
to spend the money on yourself. Make the 1st check you write after
getting your paycheck be your offering. Much like spending time with
God in the scriptures and prayer – if you leave it till the end, there
won’t be a lot left but sloppy scraps to give to God. Randy, Chris or
myself would love to share ideas with you about how you manage
your finances if this is a weak area for you. I’d be more than happy
to share what structures I’ve put in place for managing and giving
the resources God has given us. I love personal finance!
Picking our text back up in v 16:
 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.
The wicked referenced here weren’t people from other nations.
These were people living in Israel who assumed they were true
Israelites. They took God’s apparent silence as a sign that he was
just like them and approved of their disregard for himself and their
neighbors. God disabuses them of this notion and warns them of
judgment if they don’t amend their ways. In this subsection of the
Israelites we see that a broken relationship with God, a mechanical
and formulaic way of relating to him leads to tragically broken and
hypocritical relationships with others.
I don’t know where you’re hearts at in response to this message this
morning. My hope is that you’d have a mix of trepidation and
excitement. Trepedation at the prospect of taking a step of faith and
trusting God more with the finances that you’re realizing more and
more ultimately aren’t yours, and excitement to see God be faithful
and dependable in ways you’ve never experienced Him.
If you’re sitting there thinking I’m just full of it or that my motives
are questionable, I hope that you’d heed the warning in these
verses. He says in Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived: God is not
mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. I don’t for
one moment believe in karma but I do believe in wise,
compassionate, patient God whose patience doesn’t last forever.
We’re under grace, but he still expects obedience.
In closing out the text we read in verse 22-23:
 “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!”
The good news of the gospel is that if we put our trust in Jesus the
Christ, God calls us to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving because no
other sacrifices for guilt or sin are needed. Jesus Christ is the
spotless lamb of God who has taken away the filth and penalty on
Himself on the cross in our place.
And the good news of the gospel is that if we trust in the lamb of
God, we need not fear the all consuming fire that is the Mighty One,
God the Lord because through Christ we’ve been made a kingdom of
priests who now have peace and boldness to enter His presence with
confidence and enjoy Him.
As we respond to God and His word this morning, we’ll sing songs
about His goodness and faithfulness. And we’ll also have the
opportunity, for those who trust Christ, celebrate and remember His
sacrifice on our behalf through communion. Please be sure to search
your hearts and confess any sin He shows you before coming to the
Finally, we’ll get to respond by sacrificing back to God some of the
gracious provision he’s poured out on us by giving back to him
through our offerings, confessing, in doing so, that He is ready and
able to meet all of our needs infinitely better than we can.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk
in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)