“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 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.”
But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.
“You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son. These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps. 50:7-23 ESV)
We actually do the same thing as what's described here in this psalm. We lay out our sacrifices (small as they are) before God and think He's impressed and all the while, we are so detatched from him. We think we're doing God a favor as we show up to worship. Our hearts actually say things like: "He's always short on cash, so I guess I'll put some money into the offering plate." And "He never has enough volunteers to keep these ministries going, so where's that sign-up sheet for teachers?" Or even "the Lord could really use a good, moral, well-organized, middle class family in His kingdom ... someone like us!"
No, the Lord, He is God. He is in need of NOTHING. If the Lord did lack something, He would not come to us begging for handouts.
So what's the takeaway for us? The takeaway is this, we are desperately in need of Him. We are to come into our worship services to receive grace from the Lord, not imagining that we are making up for His shortfalls. The offerings we present to our God are ones of thanksgiving and praise and obedience to His Word.
King David would follow up Asaph's thought found here in Psalm 50 with these famous words: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps. 51:17 ESV). The grace found in Jesus Christ draws the unlovely to the Father, breaks their stubborn pride, and makes them new.
Beggars and orphans have nothing to give back—nothing that is except thanks and love. So this is true worship—to actually acknowledge that we have nothing, are nothing, and the good we have received from the Lord should by all rights go right back to Him because He has been so loving and kind to us.
God help me to keep this in the forefront of my mind as I walk into His presence this Sunday.