Every Israelite needed, just as we do, to begin his day conscious of God and conscious of the race God wanted him to run that day. Singing the fiftieth psalm early in the morning at the temple would help to accomplish that purpose. It would boil it all down to one simple formula. That formula goes like this: "Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
But before focusing on that formula, the song states another fact, a fact we all need to keep in view. It's the fact of final judgement. As the people sing, they hear themselves saying, "God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him." Simply put, Final judgement is not a figment of imagination - it's coming for sure!
Everyone must face that judgement, believer and unbeliever alike. And there is one and only one judgement criteria: In the words of this psalm, each one must have "made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." What does it mean? What kind of "sacrifice" is needed? The first thing the singer needed to understand was that it wasn't the sacrifice of animals! In our own day that just means that -then or now - it isn't religious ritual that He desires from His people!
Things have never changed. There's always been just one kind of sacrifice that's acceptable. The formula at the beginning stated it, but it needs to be mentioned again because it's so vital. The sacrifice God desires is an offering to Him of thanksgiving, obedience, and dependence. The people sing, "Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." That says it all. The "sacrifice" God requires of His people is thanksgiving - living through each day in awareness of God's wonderful gifts, of His gracious providence - and responding with thanksgiving. In other words, what God wants for all of us is an all-day relationship to Himself.
And He wants the worshiper to "pay . . . vows to the Most High." Simply put, He wants them to keep their promises to Him. When they promise to live in the way He requires, they need to actually live that way. He requires obedience.
Finally, He wants them to come to Him throughout the day, to pray to Him, to call upon Him for help, and to experience answers to those prayers in His merciful deliverances. Simply put, God wants their hearts in grateful dependence!
The rest of the song just goes on to describe people who are "religious," but who don't have that necessary heart relationship to God, people who talk a good religion but, in their hearts, don't relate to Him at all.
Which will it be for you today? Do you carry your Christianity with you in the form of a cross around your neck, or does it radiate out to people around you in goodness and love because it comes from a heart that is walking hand in hand with GOD?