Psalm 50 is one of many passages that speaks against ritualized religion. Don’t get me wrong: all religions have rituals. The problem, as the Psalmist sees it, is that the religion of God’s people has become only ritual.
Through Asaph, the writer of this poem, God speaks pointedly: The God who has subpoena power over all the earth has called his people to court. Their crime is not a failure to offer ritual – they do that quite well. Their crime, however, is a failure to live appropriately. God frankly tells them that he has no need of anything from them and if he did need something, He surely wouldn’t tell them. They pay no attention to His instructions, adopt lifestyles that are dishonorable, and hurt one another – even members of their own family.
They thought living that way was alright because God let them get away with it, but a day of reckoning is coming and unless they change, God promises to tear them to pieces.
God does not here tell them ritual is unimportant. The rituals were part of the commandments after all. But rituals become offensive to God when offered by consecrated people whose daily walk looks nothing like the God who has taken them to be their own. The alternative is not to simply walk away from God, but to clean up your life, for after all, God is God of all, and will summon everyone one day to give an accounting for their behavior. No one will be exempt.