The Mighty God, with power speaks, and all the world obeys; from dawn until the setting sun, God’s wonder earth displays. True beauty beams from Zion’s hill, there God’s rule shines forth, and stars across the firmament so brightly beam their worth.
God comes not with a silent form, but riding on the winds; before God’s face, the raging storm its blasts of thunder sends. O God of mercy, in my life love and peace restore; my sin and guilt are washed away, and I am whole once more.
The heav’ns declare your justice, Lord, as endless as the sky; against the taunts of disbelief, our God will testify. Receive my heartfelt gift of thanks, God of love and might, refresh my faith with each new day; protect me through the night.
Today’s metrical paraphrase of Psalm 50 is an interesting mix of the idea of God’s power being recognised by all creation, a majestic view of how God speaks and the, perhaps smug, idea that God will answer taunts of disbelief.
Believers are often concerned with those who don’t believe – sometimes we fear they may be destined to Hell (a primary motivation for evangelism across the Church in earlier ages), or we may wish the best for them and see religious faith as that best or we may just want God to prove them wrong! Something of that last attitude is seen at the end of this version of the Psalm. Of course our attitudes to God are always mixed up with our feelings about ourselves and others; the first two stanzas are, in my view, rather more positive; the idea in the first verse of Creation showing forth God’s glory is wonderful and speaks volumes in our more ecologically conscious age; the middle verse about God’s riding on the winds with raging storm speaks of God’s majesty and power.
We live in a spiritual age where, in the West, many people are put off religion; it’s quite a quandry in that people seek spirituality but don’t dream of finding it in the Church. Maybe we reflect the last stanza of this Psalm/hymn more than the first two?
Help us, O God, to speak of your glory, to show your love and to enact your justice that all people will see your glory and find their fulfilment in you alone. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston works with four churches in and around Glasgow