Psalm 50 really stuck out to me. There is much in these two short verses we would do well to notice and meditate on.
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
The preeminent feature of these two verses is the command God gives in verse 22. His command is to "mark this," referring to what comes next. What is He saying needs to be "marked" or "paid attention to?" Why is He saying it? How do we fulfill this command? What does it all tell us about God, and about ourselves? These are some of the questions we should find answers to in these verses.
First, we should all admit that these verses are speaking to us...directly. They are not speaking of some fictional, idealized wicked person. Though verse 16 of the Psalm reads, "But to the wicked God says," and this comes in that context, it isn't just referring to a mere conception in the mind of the writer. This command speaks to us today.
After all, every human being, Christians and non-Christians alike, have fit the description verse 22 gives of humanity–"you who forget God." Whether intentionally or as a result of an over-occupied mind and heart, whether completely or just for a season, we have all been guilty of this failure to remember our Creator. Some have done so out of spite and denial; others have done so for a time because of having their affections, passions, and attention misplaced.
It is from this slumbering forgetfulness that we are roused: "MARK THIS." Pay attention! Look! Listen! Don't miss what I'm about to tell you! Why are we told to do this? Because although we deserve God’s wrath, He is merciful. God warns us sternly in verse 22 to “mark this,” so that we will not be recipients of His wrath with no one to rescue us. While “God’s wrath” is not a fashionable or popular subject, to ignore it is an expression of ignorance and arrogance all at once.
What is it we are to see here? Verse 23 tells us. We are to mark the fact that the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies God. We are also to see that God Himself will show His salvation to the one who orders his way rightly.
Now, we would do well to consider the meaning of verse 23. However, if we do that with any real honesty, we have to admit that we are unable to fulfill that verse ourselves. Could we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving? Perhaps we could, but even our best offerings are like a "polluted garment" or "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). But none of us can order our way rightly as we ought to.
With that being the case, the outlook can be rather depressing. We are told to mark this...that to the one who orders his way rightly, God will show that one His salvation. But what good does that do for a whole race of humans who are incapable of doing that?
Fortunately, when verse 23 twice refers to "the one," it is not speaking metaphorically here of a generalized, righteous person. Rather, it refers to One who will in fact fulfill this verse. As the majority (some would even say all 150) of the Psalms do, this Psalm points us forward to Jesus Christ.
There is only one who perfectly offered thanksgiving as His sacrifice. There is only One who ever perfectly ordered His way rightly. And it was to this One who was shown the salvation of God. It was God's own Son, Jesus Christ. He was not shown the salvation of God in the sense of how to be saved. Rather, He was shown the salvation of God in the sense of bringing that salvation to others...to those like us, who have at one time or another, temporarily or continuously, forgotten God.
Thus the command to "MARK THIS" means to look at the Son...the Son who perfectly offers thanksgiving as His sacrifice, who always orders His way rightly. It is this One to Whom we are to pay attention. We are to pay attention that He ordered His way rightly where we could not...that He was shown the salvation of God that He might bring it to us.
And He did this so that we might experience that salvation. He did this so that we would no longer be sufferers of spiritual amnesia who look for something, anything, to fill God's place because we don't even know what it is we're missing out on. He did this so we could and would remember...that we would remember daily the goodness and beauty of LORD. He did this to deliver us from the wrath we deserved...the wrath of being torn apart.
When we "mark this," we see the the truth of the Gospel–that Jesus ordered His way rightly...that He was torn apart in our place. We also see that He not only experienced God's salvation in being raised from the dead, but that He offers that salvation to us as well.
So whatever you’ve been doing, whatever you've been going through, stop for a moment and “mark this.” Remember...remember when you are tempted to forget...remember when you think you're doing pretty good...remember when you're not doing so hot...remember that salvation depends on Christ. Remember this...mark this...because as you do, it will lead to you offering thanksgiving to God and seeing your way ordered rightly.