I once heard a preacher say, “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, so why not ask Him if He can spare a few?” That’s true. God does own the cattle on a thousand hills. In fact, He owns way more than that. But I’m not sure God intended for us to use that verse to ask Him for more stuff.
Psalm 50:10 says, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
The inference is that God owns everything. And He does! Whether we acknowledge that in our lives by how we live is another story, but God owns it all. This is one of the reasons why I don’t have any problems tithing to God. Everything I have already belongs to Him. But I digress.
I’m not suggesting that we can’t apply this verse to multiple areas of our life. One of the beautiful things about Scripture is how one verse can speak to so many parts of our lives. But if we take that one verse from its context, we could completely miss out on what God is trying to say.
Verse 10 is smack dab in the middle of a passage where God is challenging His people on their attitude toward Him. They thought that God would respond to them or answer them based on the level of their sacrifice to Him. Mainly the animal sacrifices they gave.
I’ve typically heard this verse used as an encouragement to trust God with what you have or to ask Him for more because He owns it all anyway. And again, this is true! It is encouraging to know that the God I serve owns everything. It’s a blessing to remember that the God who owns it all cares about and provides for me. But this verse was not initially used as an encouragement; it was a rebuke! Look at the verse in context:
Psalm 50:7-15 7 “O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! 8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. 9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. 10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. 13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? 14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. 15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
God was like, “Don’t bring me cows or goats and think that’s going to bend my ear toward your prayers. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to me.”
Thankfulness is often a sacrifice, isn’t it? When you feel like you have nothing to be thankful for, it is a sacrifice to thank God. When we have nothing in our hands, it’s difficult to praise the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. That’s why God desires our thankfulness more than our treasures.
Why is our thankfulness so valuable to Him? Because He doesn’t own my thankfulness, I willingly give it to Him. God already owns everything on the planet. He doesn’t need a thing. Any possession I give Him, He already owns. But my thankfulness? That is something only I can provide. It’s more valuable to God than the cattle on a thousand hills. Wow!
With that in mind, here are two truths that I need to constantly reminded of:
1. God wants my thanks more than my stuff.
2. I should want God’s presence more than what He can provide. (Ouch!)
It’s actually my thankfulness, not my treasures, that bend the ear of God toward me. One act of worship is worth more than all the wealth in the world to God. Look again at how He responds:
Psalm 50:14-15 14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. 15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”