Vs. 1-6 give God’s call for judgment;
Vs. 7-15 contrasts God with idols;
Vs. 16-23 explain why God condemns the wicked.
This is one of 12 Psalms written by Asaph, who is briefly mentioned in 2 Chronicles 29:30: “King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer.” His inspired message here is about judgment.HH
Verses 1-6: This universal call by God to “heaven” and “earth” is “that He may judge His people.” “Saints” are described as “Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice,” which, under Moses, were the sacrifices of that Law, but today, are Christians with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Exodus 24:1-8; Deuteronomy 33:1-4; Colossians 1:18-27). “The heavens declare” God’s “righteousness” and “glory” (Psalm 19:1), meaning none in Heaven has any evidence to contradict God’s absolute right to judge.
Verses 7-15: Asaph contrasts needy idols with God, who does not accept the specified animal sacrifices because He needs them to possess (verses 7-9), since all animals in the Creation belong to Him, anyway (verse 10-11); nor does God need animal sacrifices for His food (verses 12-13); but He requires them so the saints who agreed to the covenant may offer acceptable “thanksgiving” to God for what He does/has done (verses 14-15). Those sacrifices benefit the worshipers, for God is NOT served by them as an idol would be. Paul also contrasted God with idols by saying: “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25).
Verses 16-23: Because His people offer thanksgiving as He specified, because He is God over His Creation, then He is justified in condemning “the wicked.” Wickedness is described as including: agreeing to the covenant but disobeying it (verse 16-17); not condemning thievery (verse 18); participating in adultery (verse 18); using words for evil, deceit, slander, even against one’s own family (verse 19-20); ALL OF THESE (and more!) the Jews practiced in Jesus’ day (Romans 1:28-2:10). Verses 21-22 are later echoed by Solomon: “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). In other words, no wickedness will be unpunished by God! ALL THE WICKED are put on notice to repent (verse 23; Acts 17:30-31). This Psalm surely looks ahead to the time when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10), and so should we all!
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.