Missiology Through Scripture – Psalm 49:1

“Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,” – Psalm 49:1

This wisdom psalm is typical in that it starts here by calling everyone to pay attention. It continues by proclaiming the common knowledge that all created beings will perish. It then concludes by clarifying the differing eternal fates of disciples of Yahweh and those who turn from him. The psalmist cries out to all people. This message painfully pleads with both the faithful and the unfaithful. One does not have to believe in God to be ruled by him. God reigns over believers and non-believers alike.

God is the Sovereign over all the earth. It is not only the historical elect of Israel and the modern elect in Christians who a subject to God. Every nation belongs to God and he desires every nation to worship him. Augustine said, “For Our Lord Jesus Christ hath proclaimed it through the Apostles, hath proclaimed it in so many tongues that He sent; and we see this Psalm, which before was only repeated in one nation, in the Synagogue of the Jews, now repeated throughout the whole world, throughout all Churches.”[1] We must not view God as only impacting those who follow him. His mercy, wrath, and justice fall upon every head. The ignorant are not free from the law.

This is not cruel, but compassionate. Through the labors of his missionaries God is reaching out to all peoples. God is not so heartless as to rule eternally over the nations yet hide his decrees from them. God commands his church to go out into those nations and to disciple and train those peoples. That is true compassion. The mercy of God cries for his church to reach the nations with his love. Sympathy obligates our obedience.

 

[1] Augustine of Hippo, “Expositions on the Book of Psalms,” in Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 169.