Thankfulness is also a much needed character trait for the disobedient. Thus far in Psalm 50 we have talked about the believing and the obedient, who despite their efforts still lack in true thanksgiving to God. How much worse is it then for the disobedient?
This is where we find ourselves in verses 16 through 21. As verse 16 indicates, this second camp of people refers to the Israelites who are outright disobeying God. They call themselves believers in God, but their lives are antithetical to God’s ways. Thus, in God’s eyes, they are wicked. Listen to God’s assessment of them. God is angry with these so-called believers because they talk about God’s word but they do not live it out. They can talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk. On the holy days, these Israelites are at the temple, but the rest of the week they are taking part in sinful, self-centered pursuits. They are engaging in unjust practices. They even speak evil, slanderous things against people of their own family. Do you see the problem? They profess the name of the LORD God with their lips, but they deny Him by their actions.
Does the same happen today? Absolutely. Professing Christians are good at bearing the name of Christ, but who do not truly follow Jesus. We know of Christians like this. Perhaps, you are one of them. We profess our submission to God but are quick to greed, are addicted to pornography, are swift to slander others. Just as with these professing believers under the Old Covenant, God is not pleased with Christians who are Christians in name only. Listen to God’s judgment in verses 21 and 22. God’s patience has run out with these Israelites and now He is going to judge them. They thought that because God had been silent so far that somehow He approved their behavior. But God won’t have any more of their idolatry.
Now, notice the heart of the issue in verse 23a. The issue, again, is thanksgiving. In God’s eyes, it always comes back to thanksgiving. Here’s why. For these Israelites who disobeyed God, their understanding of God was wrong. They did not realize how much they are dependent on God. They failed to see how God is the Giver of all things. They failed to see how God sustains their every breath, and because they failed in these areas, they did not give God thanks.
The result? Judgment is coming their way. The same is true today. The fundamental problem of humanity is their lack of thanksgiving. Notice what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1. While discussing unbelievers, Paul offers the root problem of idolatry in Romans 1:20-21: “Unbelieving Gentiles experienced God’s wrath because they ‘neither glorified Him…nor gave thanks to Him.” And here is what a lack of thanksgiving equates to: To not give thanks is to insist on one’s self-sufficiency. Right? You don’t thank someone for something you did. So, when humans do not thank God for His daily blessings, humans are essentially telling God, “God, I don’t need to thank You because I’m here by my own power.” Do you see the problem with that? In biblical terms, to insist on one’s self-sufficiency is an idolatrous act. To give thanks, by contrast, is to acknowledge one’s dependence on the Creator and thus to transfer the center of one’s concern to God. May this be the posture of our heart today and always.