God is judge. He is the Mighty One, God the LORD, the final arbiter. He carries pure and just scales and will measure according to perfect holiness. And in Psalm 50, He comes calling (50:1-6).
The songwriter envisions God speaking and summoning the earth (v.1). The perfection of His beauty shines forth from Zion as He comes in a mighty tempest, calling to the heavens above and the earth below to “gather to Me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Gather them, says the Almighty, that I might judge My people.
And twice in this song of Asaph God reveals the measure with which He is glorified by His faithful ones. And, it would seem, heart matters.
“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. . . . The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
(Psalm 50:14-15, 23 ESV)
While God acknowledges their consistency in offering bulls and goats as burnt offerings, He says, in a sense, “What are they, in and of themselves, to Me? Every beast of the forest is already Mine. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Me before you ever culled one out to bring as a sacrifice. The birds along with everything that moves in the field are mine. In fact, the entire world and its fullness are mine. So, it’s not just about offering an animal and giving to Me what I already own. It’s what’s behind it. Heart matters.”
And so sings the songwriter on behalf of the Almighty, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving!”
Going through the motions is meaningless apart from the motivation. Let the offering be accompanied with confession concerning the greatness of God. Let the smoke that rises from the sacrifice be infused with songs of praise declaring His mighty works on behalf of His people. Let the blood that is shed be fully acknowledged for the atonement it brings and let the worshiper respond by offering Himself as a living sacrifice, desiring to follow and obey–to perform their vows and order their way rightly–not as an act to gain favor, but as a loving response to the favor already received.
What’s behind the sacrifice is important to our God. What drives the worshiper is what makes the worship pleasing before the Almighty. Heart matters.
For with such hearts, turned by grace and tuned with thanksgiving, God is glorified. The blood makes way for the Holy One to dwell among His people, and for His people to draw near in assurance of faith, but it is the heart of thanksgiving and praise that honors Him in their midst. He is lifted up when His people gather and bring their offerings from souls that joyfully delight in His presence. He is exalted when faithful ones give freely and willingly to Him because they recognize how graciously and abundantly He has provided for them. A sacrifice of thanksgiving. Offerings born out of praise. Lives lived for Him compelled by hearts of overflowing gratitude. That’s what glorifies our God.
And the song finishes with a wonderful promise.
“I will show the salvation of God!”
The fullness of salvation stretches beyond the forgiveness of sins because of substitutionary atonement–though, if it didn’t, that would more than enough to fuel our praise for eternity. But the Mighty One of Zion sent His Son that we might have life and “have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). And it is to the one who offers with thanksgiving, to the one who order his way with praise, to the one whose heart is tuned toward glorifying His God, to such a one will abundant life be made known. For such a one will all that is encompassed in our wondrous salvation be revealed and experienced.
Come thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy praise!
We hear Your call O God. We delight in the grace which beckons us to Yourself as Your faithful ones. Be glorified in our offerings sourced in deep and sincere appreciation.