Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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In Psalm 50 we have the second category of persons regarding the enjoyment of God in Christ—those who call upon the Lord according to His covenant. To call upon the Lord, saying, "O Lord Jesus," makes a very real difference in our situation.

According to this psalm, we need to call upon the Lord according to His covenant. The Bible is the book of a covenant, the book of a testament. A covenant may be compared to the title deed to a house. To give someone the title deed to a house is actually to "covenant" the house to that person. In the Bible, a book of covenant, God has covenanted Himself to us, and now we need to call upon the Lord according to this covenant. We should say, "O Lord, You have covenanted Yourself to me. According to Your covenant, You are now my possession, my portion, and my enjoyment." This is to call upon the Lord according to His covenant.

A. As the Saints of God,
Who Have Made
a Covenant with God by Sacrifice

In this psalm, those who call upon the Lord according to His covenant are the saints of God who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. They have been charged by the righteous God, who is Judge, to offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving and to call upon Him in the day of trouble that they may participate in His deliverance, His salvation (vv. 1-15, 23). To make a covenant with God by sacrifice is to make a covenant by Christ as our Mediator, as the "middleman" between us and God. If we pray to God in the name of the Lord Jesus, this means that we pray to God by Christ as our sacrifice.

In ancient times the people of Israel offered different kinds of offerings to God, such as the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the peace offering. Of all these offerings, the one that was the most touching to the hearts of the people was the peace offering. Because the peace offering touched the heart of the one who offered it, it became a thanksgiving offering. One could offer to God a burnt offering, a meal offering, a sin offering, or a trespass offering without much affection. This means that one could offer such an offering without his heart being touched. However, whenever a person, being thankful to God, offered a thanksgiving offering to God, that person’s heart was touched.

Psalm 50 tells us that some of the saints of God were offering burnt offerings and other kinds of offerings (vv. 8-13), but, because they were lacking in affection, they would not offer the thanksgiving offering. Thus the psalmist, speaking for God, indicated that what God wants is not the burnt offering but the thanksgiving offering. In verse 14a the psalmist says, "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving." Here the psalmist seemed to be saying, "God does not want your burnt offering. God wants you to offer Him your thanksgiving offering, an offering that is touching to both you and God, an offering full of affection."

We need to consider this in the light of our experience with the Lord. Many of us have prayed in this way: "O God the Father, I am a sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ is my burnt offering, sin offering, and trespass offering." This is a prayer without affection, without tender feeling. This indicates that we can offer certain offerings without being touched in our heart. Suppose, however, that after passing through a time of trouble, you pray, "O God the Father, I would like to offer to You my thanksgiving." Such a prayer touches your heart, fills you with affection, and causes you and God to become intimate.

Which experience is better—to offer the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering, or to offer the thanksgiving offering? Surely the experience of offering the thanksgiving offering is better. We may offer Christ as the other kinds of offerings without being deeply touched. But when we are thankful to God and offer to Him a prayer of thanksgiving, we may be deeply touched. This is what God wants. We should not contact Him without being touched in our heart. Rather, our contact with God needs to be full of affection and tender feeling.

In verses 16 through 22 we have God’s warning to the wicked, who are not included in the category of those who call upon the Lord according to His covenant.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)