In the ancient world, it was thought that the gods controlled just about everything that happened. But the gods also needed what humans had to offer them. The sacrifices they offered were actually food for the gods. Without the sacrifices, the gods would be weakened. So, in some ways, the gods were dependent on the people who served them.
But as Asaph, the author of this psalm, points out, that is not true of God.
I have no need of a bull from your stallPsalm 50:9-13 NIV
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
God does not need our sacrifices. Or anything else we have to offer him, for that matter. He has all he needs without any participation on our part. He owns everything and needs nothing from us.
God Delights In Delivering Us
But Asaph goes on and encourages us, nonetheless, to present thank offerings to God and to fulfill our commitments to him. And to call on him when life gets hard.
Sacrifice thank offerings to God,Psalm 50:14-15 NIV
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
As Asaph expressed earlier, God has no need of our thank offerings. Whether we keep our commitments to him or not has no impact on him. But nonetheless, we should offer him a sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). And we should be faithful to the commitments we make to him. It is the only really rational response to the God of all creation. The God who loves us beyond our comprehension.
And when we do, we can confidently call on him when our lives get hard, knowing that he will deliver us. He does not respond to us out of any sense of obligation for what we have done. But simply because he loves us.
God’s desire is to help those who come to him in their need, seeking what only he can give. So unlike the gods of the ancient world; or of our world today.