The Acceptable Sacrifice: This is the title of this psalm. Obviously, this psalm is an educational psalm. The psalmist praises God and teaches the audience at the same time. The topic of her lesson is what the acceptable sacrifice to God is. To know the answer, we have to know who our God is first.
Our God is the Creator of all the beauty and power in the universe and the Judge for all the creatures: “The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him. He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: ‘Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!’ The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah”
When we realize how great our God is, we cannot just give animal sacrifice to God and say, “Now, I have done my worship!” It is not good enough! “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. I will not accept a bull from your house, or goats from your folds. For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”
If God deserves more than animal sacrifice, then what would be the suitable sacrifice to God? “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
“Thanksgiving” and “Crying out in times of trouble for help,” those two broken hearts are acceptable sacrifices to God! However, we have to be careful here. Our hearts should be known by our actions! When our hearts and actions go two opposite ways, our God cannot be glorified.
“But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. You make friends with a thief when you see one, and you keep company with adulterers. You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your kin; you slander your own mother’s child. These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you. Mark this, then, you who forget God, or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.”
When we give our hearts of thanksgiving and repentance combined with changed behavior that is the sacrifice that God can accept! “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.”