"THE CATTLE ON A THOUSAND HILLS"
by Wayne S. Walker
"For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10). Through the years, as my family and I have been travelling, especially through various rural areas of our nation, and seen multitudes of cows peacefully grazing in the pastures along the roadside, I have frequently thought of this verse. Psalm 50 is ascribed by the uninspired heading to Asaph. Although the name Asaph appears several times at different places in the Old Testament, we really know very little about the Asaph to whom a number of Psalms are attributed. However, the subject of the Psalm is quite clear. It is about "The Mighty One, God the LORD" of whom Asaph says, "For God Himself is Judge" (verses 1-6).
God Himself then speaks, beginning in verse 7, to testify against Israel. The Lord mentions the sacrifices and burnt offerings that His people brought to Him, and while He says that He will not reprove them for those sacrifices and offerings, most likely because He Himself had commanded them, the implication is that God does not need to take their bulls and goats because all the beasts of the forest and the cattle of the earth are already His. In fact, He goes on to say, "If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness (verse 12). The point which we can learn from all this is that God commanded the people of Israel to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings not because it fulfilled any need of His own, but because the Israelites themselves needed to learn to make sacrifices to the God and Judge of the universe.
Today, we do not offer animal sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord, but His inspired messenger urges us, "Therefore by Him [Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). Let us never think that God commands us to offer to Him the sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of our lips because it somehow strokes His ego or is needed to make Him "feel good" about Himself. He demands our worship and praise because we ourselves need to acknowledge Him as the Mighty One, God the Lord, who Himself is Judge. Some farmer or farmers may own the cattle on a thousand hills, but God is the one who created both the cattle and the farmers (and the hills too!), and we all need to remember that "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people (verse 4).