Psalm 48:2, Sides of the north. (See notes at Dan 11:6.) Zion here has the expanded meaning of referring to the Temple Mount where the temple stood, which laid in the northeast corner of the ancient city of Jerusalem (Keil and Delitszch). Technically, Zion refers to the ridge on which the city of David was situated, which is southeast of the modern old city of Jerusalem laying on the ridge above (west of) the Kidron Valley just east of the Tyropoeon Valley (which as since been filled in). When Solomon built the temple on Mount Moriah, the word Zion, took on the expanded or poetic meaning of referring also to the Temple Mount (Pss 2:6; 48:2,11–12; 132:13). Later the meaning of Zion was expanded further to include the city of Jerusalem, the people of Israel and the whole land of Israel (Isa 40:9; 60:14 Jer 31:12; Zech 9:13) and later even of the heavenly New Jerusalem (Heb 12:22; Rev 14:1).
Psalm 49:1–14, An evangelistic message to the unsaved. This entire psalm is a good basis for a sermon to the unsaved or spiritually lost.
Psalm 49:4, Dark sayings [or riddles] on the harp. Harp is the Hebrew word kinor from an unused root word meaning “to twang.” Poetic music is a thought provoking way to “preach” the gospel; it touches the heart of man in a special way. This is because music is capable of bypassing the innate defensiveness of the mind and can go straight to the heart.
Psalm 49:7, None…can…redeem his brother. In that all men are of equal value before Elohim, a man can’t redeem his brother from the penalty of sin, which is death. One can only atone for his own sins by dying, and once dead, there is no more possibility of living, since the wages of sin is death. So there is no possibility for a man to atone for his own sins, much less those of another; this verse makes this truth clear.
Even if a man could live a sinless life, he could, at best, save only one other individual—that is, give his life in exchange for only one other sinner. Only Yeshua, who was the Creator of all humans life (Col 1:16; Heb 11:3), could exchange his sinless life for all humanity. This is because common logic tells us that the one who creates something is of more value than the sum total of all that he creates. This is why verse eight states that the redemption of men’s souls is costly, since it cost the life of the Son of Elohim, the Creator of all things. Only this costly sin sacrifice could redeem men from the pit of the grave and give men the gift of eternal life (verse nine).
Another point to consider in this discussion is that since Yeshua was born of a virgin and not of the seed of man, his nature wasn’t polluted or defiled by Adam’s sin nature. If he had not been born of a virgin, this would have disqualified him from being the perfect and blemish-free Passover lamb sin offering for the remission of men’s sins before the judgment seat of Elohim. Since the life of man is in his blood (Lev 17:11), and man’s blood was defiled by Adam’s sin nature, and since Yeshua’s blood didn’t derive from man, but from his Father in heaven, Yeshua’s blood was acceptable to a holy Elohim as the required atonement for the redemption men’s souls (Lev 17:11 cp. Isa 53:10). No man except Yeshua has ever met these criteria, thus no man other than Yeshua is qualified to atone for another man’s sin.
Because Yeshua was the blameless and sin-free Passover lamb, those who spiritually identify and unite with his atoning death through faith in him and via the ritual of baptism for the remission of sins can now be presented as blameless before Elohim in heaven (Col 1:21–23).
Psalm 49:8, The redemption of the soul is costly. Indeed it is, for it cost Yeshua his life.
Psalm 49:9, Continue to live. In other words, the soul is not immortal.
Psalm 49:10–20, The senseless person. That which the world esteems is an inversion of the truth and reality and is, therefore, anathema to and enmity with Elohim (Jas 4:4). The redeemed are those who have come out of the confused mixture of light and darkness or good and evil (called Babylonianism) of what worldly people esteem (1 Cor 6:17; Rev 18:4). They no longer esteem that which the unsaved foolish or senseless people esteem (i.e. wealth, the houses and monuments they create to last forever to honor their memory, as well as the lands they name after themselves, v. 11). This is the way of the senseless and foolish person (v. 12). The wise person knows that death comes to all humans, and all die like common animals (vv. 11, 20). Only Elohim has the power to redeem our non-immortal soul from the grave (v. 15), so that a person will see the light of life again (v. 19) at the resurrection of the righteous dead.
Psalm 49:15, Redeem my soul.This verse tells us that the soul (i.e. the mind, will and emotion) is not immortal, but dies along with the body. Ezekiel confirms this truth when he declares that the soul that sins will die (Ezek 18:4, 20). Moreover Yeshua’s soul died as well, making atonement for man’s sin when it went into the grave (Isa 53:10–11) in fulfillment of Leviticus 17:11 which says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
Shall receive me.To be received of YHVH Elohim as his resurrected, glorified and immortalized child is a far greater reward than all the wealth, possession, fame, honor and glory this world has to offer a person.
“But Elohim will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.” This is a generic reference to the resurrection of the righteous dead. Using a kal v’khomer or light and heavy (a fortiori) rule of logic (or Hillel’s first law of Biblical hermeneutics or interpretation), we can reason that if the righteous dead are resurrected how much more so YHVH’s righteous Messiah?
Psalm 49:19, Light or light of life (see NKJV marginal reference). This is a Hebraic idiom for the resurrection of one’s dead body (cp. Ps 56:13; Isa 53:11).
Psalm 50:0, A Psalm of Asaph. Asaph is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16:5. He also wrote Psalms 73–83.
Psalm 50:1–23, Overview
This psalm presents several fundamental biblical truths that should ignite the fires of hope for the saints of YHVH Elohim. Let’s explore this psalm.
First, YHVH, the Mighty One or El, is coming to judge the earth and the wicked thereon with the fires his judgment.
Second, out of this, he will deliver his saints from that fire and will gather those who are in a covenant relationship, and who glorify him through the sacrifices of praise and who walk righteously. Wherever his saints may be, whether in heaven or on (or in) the earth, he will show them salvation.
The fiftieth psalm is also a prophecy pertaining to the transition between the old and new covenants with Yeshua the Messiah as the central figure and pivot point between the two. Here is the overview of this amazing prophecy verse by verse.
- Verse 1—Among all the other elohim or gods, Elohim is the Most High; his name is YHVH or Yehovah. Without him, what follows makes no sense, is irrelevant and is without context.
- Verse 2—Tzion is the central geographical spot on earth from which YHVH Elohim has chosen to operate. Tzion or Zion (i.e., the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem) means “a conspicuous monument, guiding pillar, guidepost or signpost.” From this place on earth, the Creator has chosen to reveal himself to mankind and to conspicuously demonstrate in a monumental fashion the guideposts and signpost that point to him. In Jerusalem, King David ruled over united Israel, the temple was built, Yeshua was revealed as the Messiah—the Light of the World, Yeshua was crucified and resurrected, and from there the gospel message of salvation spread to the four corners of the earth. From Zion “the perfection and beauty of Elohim [shone] forth” to the whole earth through Yeshua the Messiah and the gospel message.
- Verse 3—Elohim has opened his mouth from Jerusalem through many prophets, the psalmists, Yeshua and his apostles speaking through them to the whole world. Elohim is a consuming fire, in that the fire of his Word devours the wood, hay and stubble of men’s unbiblical, humanistic philosophies. Ultimately the fire of his judgment through King Yeshua the Messiah will burn everything on this earth that is not of him culminating in the eternal death of the unrepentant wicked in the lake of fire.
- Verse 4—While Elohim will judge the wicked by fire, he will also judge his people by resurrecting the dead saints and uniting their spirits from above with their bodies and souls on or in the earth.
- Verse 5—Elohim will gather those saints together at the resurrection who entered into a covenantal agreement with him by sacrifice. But by what sacrifice? One type suffices, while the other does not, as this psalm will soon explain.
- Verse 6—Elohim is righteous. Scripture reveals that the Torah-Word of Elohim is the standard of righteousness by which he will judge everyone. The Torah came from heaven at Mount Sinai, as revealed to Moses in the tabernacle, by the word of Elohim through his holy prophets and through Yeshua the Messiah, the Word of Elohim incarnate, and through the apostolic writers.
- Verses 7–13—The Levitical sacrificial system though not rebuked by Elohim (v. 8), was not sufficient. The sacrifice of animals means little or nothing to YHVH who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (v. 10). No!
- Verses 14–15—What ultimately matters to YHVH is not the sacrifice of animals, but his saints walking in righteousness and, in faith, calling upon him in their day of trouble and glorifying him when he delivers them. Psalms 51 succinctly states this truth: “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of Elohim are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O Elohim, You will not despise” (Ps 51:16–15).
- Verses 16–22—YHVH Elohim has nothing good to say about the wicked who have no interest in his Truth, who hate his warnings and instructions (i.e., the Torah, v. 17), who cast YHVH’s words behind them (v. 17) and forget him (v. 22).
- Verse 23 23—Only those who offer praises to Elohim and glorify him, and who orders their conduct aright (according to YHVH’s Torah-word) will see the salvation (Heb. yesha a cognate of Yeshua) of Elohim.
Psalm 50:4–6, Heavens…earth…gather my saints. This verse declares that YHVH will gather together his saints from the heavens and from the earth that he may judge them (also see Deut 30:4). This is referring to the last days’ judgment seat at Yeshua’s second coming when the righteous saints, both the living and the dead, will be transformed into immortality. What is interesting to note here is that these verses indicate two things. First, when YHVH comes to gather his saints, some saints will be in heaven and some will be on this earth (1 Thess 4:15–17). Second, of those saints who are dead, Scripture elsewhere indicates that a part of them (i.e., the body and soul which is their mind, will and emotions) is dead and buried in the grave, while another part of them is in heaven (i.e., their spirit). Elsewhere Scripture informs us that when a person dies physically, their body along with their soul dies (Ezek 18:4, 20; i.e., the soul is not immortal), but that their spirit returns to YHVH (Eccl 3:21; 12:7 cp. Ps 90:10; Luke 23:46; Deut 30:4). So whether dead or alive, and wherever they may be, this verse succinctly states one of the fundamental and elementary biblical doctrines of the gospel message, namely, that of the of the resurrection of the dead (Heb 6:1–3). For YHVH, the righteous Judge of the universe, will gather his saints (that is, those who are in covenant with him, as verse 5 states) together before his judgment seat, where we learn elsewhere in Scripture that he will grant them rewards in his eternal kingdom based on their good works that they did while alive in their bodies (Matt 5:19; 2 Cor 5:10).
Psalm 50:5, Made [or cut] a covenant…by sacrifice. This refers to the method by which covenants were made in ancient times between two parties. This same ritual occurred when YHVH made (or cut) a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 except in that instance YHVH took all the responsibilities for fulfilling the covenant upon himself, since Abraham was asleep when this covenant was cut (Gen 15:9–10, 12).
What is the lesson in this for us? Simply this. What is described here is the model for salvation. All Abraham had to do was to have faith in YHVH and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would fall upon him (Gen 15:6). We know from Paul’s discussion in Romans chapter four that the Abrahamic Covenant is the original biblical model for how an individual can receive salvation from Elohim.
We also know that when YHVH made his covenant with Abraham, the vision Abraham had while he was asleep prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s death on the cross and his initiating the new or renewed covenant as prophesied in the Tanakh (e.g. Jer 31:31–33; also see my notes at Gen 15:12–21).
Moreover, Yeshua, at his last supper, and subsequent crucifixion fulfilled this ancient prophecy as well as the spiritual types and shadows discussed in Psalm 50:7 and Genesis 15:9–21. At his last supper, Yeshua made a new covenant with his disciples through his body (the bread) and blood (the wine), which redeemed believers now commemorate when they take communion.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26–28)
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:24)
Prior to his death on the cross, Yeshua’s predictively explained the significance of his broken body and spilled blood as it relates to covenantal agreement between him and those who would place their faith in him (as Abraham did in Gen 15).
35And Yeshua said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.…47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.…50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.…58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:35, 47, 50, 53, 58)
In the context of the Passover service when the saints through the ritual of communion annually commemorate Yeshua’s “cutting” the new covenant with his saints and then ratifying that covenant through his death, Paul has the following to say about the significance of Yeshua’s body:
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor 11:26–29)
Those who carelessly take communion are literally disrespecting not only the high value of the covenant that was made (or cut), but the tremendous price of making a covenant with Elohim (i.e., it cost Yeshua his life, and the believer must also die to himself as he accepts, unconditionally, Yeshua as his Lord or Master). Moreover, careless partakers of communion are not only underestimating the cost of their salvation, but the value and the benefits of that salvation, which is spiritual rewards including eternal life. Elohim is not only not duty bound to give immortality to such people, but would be foolish to immortalize people who don’t sufficiently recognize and appreciate the cost and value of covenantal agreement. In doing so, he would risk having a second rebellion on his hand at some point in the future. Man’s first rebellion against Elohim occurred in the Garden of Eden at the tree of knowledge.
So when Yeshua died on the cross, he become the sacrifice that was cut (i.e., his body was brutally mutilated prior to and during his crucifixion) to which this verse in this Psalm 50 makes allusion.
Moreover, Abraham not only had faith in YHVH, but he had to walk out that faith the rest of his life, for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14–26). Similarly, those who place their faith in Yeshua must also back up that faith by doing his words (John 5:24), that is, doing good (John 5:29; 3:21), loving him and keeping his commandments (John 14:15), coming to the light of Elohim’s truth (John 3:20–21), and showing that they are overcoming the word, the flesh and the devil resulting in eternal life and great spiritual rewards in the world to come (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
At the same time, those who don’t place their trust in Yeshua by accepting the covenant he “cut” through his death on the cross and then by backing that faith up with good deeds, or those who have “accepted” Yeshua, but lightly esteem him, will have a terrible price to pay.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29–30)
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28–29)
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of Elohim. (John 3:18)
Psalm 50:8, Continually before me. Yeshua our Great High Priest is continually before the throne of Elohim interceding on behalf of his people (Rev 7:9, 10, 17).
Psalm 50:12, The world is mine. The earth belongs to YHVH, but the cosmos (the kingdoms of this world and their man-made systems) belong to Satan (Matt 4:8–9).