by Pastor David Groendyk
This psalm is meant to humble us and make us introspective as we approach God. It reminds God’s people of who their God is and what he expects from them.
God is the just judge (vv. 1–6). The Mighty One of the earth has taken a seat on his throne and is summoning all the people of the world to him. His beauty and perfection are unmatched. His holiness and purity are all-consuming. His power is unhindered. The entire universe cries out that God alone is just, and God alone is qualified to judge. He is the only one with any authority. How high of a view do you have of God? As humans who will always struggle with sin in this life, our view of God will probably never be high enough until we reach glory. Verse 3 reminds me of what we read in Habakkuk 2: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Why is silence the appropriate response before our almighty, just, and holy God?
God requires worship from the heart (vv. 7–15). The just judge is now speaking to his chosen people. What becomes evident is that God’s people have offered many animal sacrifices to God, but God doesn’t care about them. It’s not as if he needs us to give him the animals! He already owns all of creation. Anything we could give back to him, he already owns. God is utterly self-sufficient. He doesn’t care about the external worship; he cares first and foremost about the heart of worshiper (v. 14). To put this in modern day perspective, God doesn’t care if you sit in church every Sunday if your heart is not in it. If we’re showing up to Sunday worship purely out of duty and not out of total devotion to God, he rebukes us like he does Israel in this chapter. Why is it so necessary to love and worship God from the heart in addition to our external actions? How can we learn to cultivate a heart of genuine, honest, loving worship?
God rebukes those who do not worship him (vv. 16–22). Now the just judge is speaking to the wicked. He has let evil go on for some time, but now he is finally acting. God does not stand for evil. He sees it all, keeps record of it, and lays the charge before the evil-doers, if not in this life then definitely the next. But these verses are not just here for Christians to point out the evil of unbelievers. They’re instructive for us to inspect our own hearts as well. One of the most damning charges against the wicked, and one of the most tempting traps for believers to fall into, comes in verse 21: “You thought that I was one like yourself.” Isn’t this why we often think God can be satisfied merely with external actions—because we as humans are often satisfied merely with external actions? One way we might be able to sum up the entire Bible’s teaching on God is this: God is not like man. Man’s natural inclinations lead him to lie, steal, commit adultery, and slander; God’s is utterly holy and pure. Man’s natural inclination is to be satisfied with ritual; God’s will is to have not just our actions but also our hearts. But for the grace of God, we never would have come to him for salvation. How should that affect the way you view and interact with unbelievers? In what ways do you think you still shape and fashion God after your own image? In what ways do you make him like yourself or give him your thoughts, desires, and attitudes rather than seeking to learn what God says about himself?
God requires worship from the heart (v. 23). The just judge reiterates what he’s looking for from any human being. He wants heart-filled praise. And it is only those who worship, serve, and love God from the heart who will receive his salvation. Do you love God from the heart?