*Judgment Begins at the House of God
An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 50
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
Words marked with a *star are described in the word list at the end.
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Jesus said, "You will see the Son of man come in the clouds of *heaven". (Matthew 26:64) (The "Son of man" is a name that Jesus gave to himself.)
Asaph was one of King David’s music leaders. Either Asaph wrote this psalm, or someone wrote it for him. Or perhaps someone wrote it long after his death, for singers that lived after him. The psalm is very *like Isaiah 1:11-20, and Micah 6:6-9. Isaiah and Micah wrote their books about 250 years after David and Asaph died. Psalms 73-83 are also psalms of Asaph.
The psalm is a picture of a Court of Law. This is a place where people decide whether someone has done right or wrong. If they have done wrong, the Court can send them to prison, or worse. In the psalm, Israel is in Court. God is telling them what they have done wrong. Everything in the sky and on earth must decide whether Israel has done right or wrong. God says that they have done wrong and that he will *punish them if they do not obey him.
In Exodus 20:2-17 are 10 important rules. We call them the Ten Commandments. A commandment is a rule that you must obey. The first 4 rules are about what people should do for God; the last 6 rules are about what people should do for other people. The psalm is in 4 parts:
Verses 1 – 6: God calls everybody to his Court of Law.
Verses 7 – 15: God says that they have not obeyed the first 4 rules.
Verses 16 – 21: God says that they have not obeyed the last 6 rules.
Verses 22 – 23: God will *punish people that do not obey him. He will give help to those that obey him.
Verses 1 – 6: When does God call everybody to his Court of Law?
Remember, a Court of Law is where people decide if someone has done right or wrong. But this Court is not in a building, but in the whole world! So, when does God call everybody to his Court? To answer this we must know something about Hebrew words. Asaph or his friends wrote the psalm in Hebrew. This was their language. But there is something strange about Hebrew verbs. A verb is a "doing word", *like "speak", or "sing", or "eat". In English we say "he spoke" if he has done it; "he speaks" if he is still doing it; or "he will speak" if he will do it tomorrow or next week. These 3 examples are past, present (now) and future. But in Hebrew there is no past, present and future.
So, in verse 1, we could translate it 3 ways:
1) The *LORD has spoken (in the past)
2) The *LORD is speaking (now)
3) The *LORD will speak (in the future).
So, when does God call people to his Court of Law? The answer is that all three ways of translating verses 1-4 are right! He called the people of Israel before him in the past, hundreds of years ago. He is calling them when they read the psalm … or us when we read the psalm today. And he will call everybody when the world comes to an end. We call this last Court of Law The Last *Judgment. (Here, "call" means "asks people to come to".)
Verses 7 – 15: This part of the psalm is about what we should do for God.
There are 4 important rules in Exodus 20, but there are more in Leviticus. It is one of these that God talks about in the psalm. Though he only talks about one rule, we believe that he meant all the rules in this group.
In verses 7 - 15 God talks about people *sacrificing animals to him. The *priest killed an animal and burnt part of it. The *priest was a special servant of God in one of the *temples that the Jews had. The *temples were buildings where they met with God. They could not see God, but they believed that he would hear them in the *temples when they prayed. The most important *temple was in Jerusalem, but there were others in Nob, Shiloh and other places. In these verses, God is saying that there is nothing wrong in *sacrificing animals. But God does not need the meat of *sacrifices so it is better just to say "thanks" to God! Then he will answer them when they pray to him for help.
Verses 16 – 21: This part of the psalm is about what we should do to the people we meet. The last 6 rules tell us about this, and many other rules in Leviticus. We must not only repeat the rules of God, and talk about his *covenant, we must obey the rules! Again, the psalm only talks about a few of the rules, but it means all the others as well. The few are just examples.
· We must not take other people’s things (verse 18)
· We must not have sex with someone that we have not married (18)
· We must not say bad things (19) about our family (20).
In verse 17, "put my words behind you" means that they did not obey them.
Verse 20 is a good example of Hebrew poetry. The two parts of the verse mean the same. Poetry is a special way of writing words. In verse 21, "to your face" means "to you, with nobody between us".
Verses 22 – 23: If people forget these rules, God will not make them safe. He will save those that:
· say "thanks" to him (rules 1-4)
· live the right way (rules 5-10).
We called this psalm, "*Judgment begins at the house of God". These are words of *Saint Peter. You will find them in 1 Peter 4:17. It means that God starts telling people in a country who is right and who is wrong with the Church. But he does not stop there. At the end, everybody must go to the Last *Judgment. In the psalm, God started with his people, the Jews. But he finished in these two verses with everybody.
1. Read about the *Covenant after Psalm 25 in this set of psalms.
2. If you have a Bible, read Exodus 20:2-17.
3. Study the difference between:
a) being safe at the Last *Judgment because you have obeyed every rule,
b) being safe at the Last *Judgment because you believe in Jesus Christ.
Paul tells us that Jews must keep every rule in the Bible. He meant the Ten Commandments, and all the other rules in Exodus, Leviticus and the rest of the Old Testament. If they did, they would be safe at the Last *Judgment. They would go to *heaven. The difficulty was, nobody could keep all the rules! Does this mean nobody will go to *heaven? No! Because there is another way to go to *heaven, a better way. It is to believe in Jesus Christ, and to *trust him. We must:
· ask him to *forgive (take away) our *sins (what we do wrong)
· ask him to give us help to stop *sinning
· ask him to make us new people by putting his *Holy Spirit in us (the *Holy Spirit is another name for God).
covenant ~ when two people agree they make a covenant.
evil ~ very very bad people (or the things that they do).
forgive ~ give away (usually *forgive *sin, which means give away the *sin to somebody else, read note in Psalm 67).
hate ~ the opposite of love.
heaven ~ the home of God.
holy ~ very very good; only God is really holy (because he always obeys his rules); Jerusalem was holy because people *worshipped God there.
Holy Spirit ~ a name for God.
judge ~ (noun, or being something) someone that decides.
judge ~ (verb, or doing something) decide if someone did right or wrong.
judgment ~ what the *judge decides.
like ~ another word for ‘as’.
LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it (look after Psalm 25).
Most High ~ a name for God which means that he is very important.
praise ~ (noun, or being something) words that say that someone or something is very good.
praise ~ (verb, or doing something) say that someone or something is very good.
priest ~ servant of a god in a *temple (here servant of true God).
punish ~ hurt someone when they do something wrong(hit them with a stick or put them in prison).
righteousness ~ being very good.
sacrifice ~ an animal killed and burnt for God.
sacrifice ~ burn an animal to make God happy (see after Psalms 4 and 50).
saints ~ another name for God’s people, or Christians.
SELAH ~ a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.
sin ~ (noun, or being something) a not obeying of God’s rules.
sin ~ (verb, or doing something) not obey God’s rules.
temple ~ a special building where people *worship God.
tongue ~ the bit in the mouth that speaks or tastes.
trust ~ (noun, or being something) believing that someone will help.
trust ~ (verb, or doing something) believe that someone will help.
worship ~ say that someone is very wonderful.
© 2000-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)
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