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a Bible passage
50. Psalm 50
The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.
3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.
4He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.
5Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.
6And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.
7Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God.
8I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
9I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds.
10For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
11I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
12If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
13Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
16But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
17Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
18When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
19Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
20Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.
21These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
22Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
23Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
16 But unto the wicked, etc. He now proceeds to direct his censures more openly against those whose whole religion lies in an observance of ceremonies, with which they attempt to blind the eyes of God. An exposure is made of the vanity of seeking to shelter impurity of heart and life under a veil of outward services, a lesson which ought to have been received by all with true consent, but which was peculiarly ungrateful to Jewish ears. It has been universally confessed, that the worship of God is pure and acceptable only when it proceeds from a sincere heart. The acknowledgement has been extorted from the poets of the heathen, and it is known that the profligate were wont to be excluded from their temples and from participation in their sacrifices. And yet such is the influence of hypocrisy in choking and obliterating even a sentiment so universally felt as this, that men of the most abandoned character will obtrude themselves into the presence of God, in the confidence of deceiving him with their vain inventions. This may explain the frequency of the warnings which we find in the prophets upon this subject, declaring to the ungodly again and again, that they only aggravate their guilt by assuming the semblance of piety. Loudly as the Spirit of God has asserted, that a form of godliness, unaccompanied by the grace of faith and repentance, is but a sacrilegious abuse of the name of God; it is yet impossible to drive the Papists out of the devilish delusion, that their idlest services are sanctified by what they call their final intention. They grant that none but such as are in a state of grace can possess the meritum de condigno; 252252 “The Schoolmen in that Church, ‘the Church of Rome,’ spoke of meritum de congruo, and meritum de condigno. By meritum de congruo, ‘to which Calvin refers in the concluding part of the sentence,’ they meant the value of good works and good dispositions previous to justification, which it was fit or congruous for God to reward by infusing his grace. By meritum de condigno they meant the value of good works performed after justification, in consequence of the grace then infused.” — Dr Hill’s Lectures in Divinity, volume 2, p. 348; see also Turretine’s Theology, volume 2, p. 778. but they maintain that the mere outward acts of devotion, without any accompanying sentiments of the heart, may prepare a person at least for the reception of grace. And thus, if a monk rise from the bed of his adultery to chant a few psalms without one spark of godliness in his breast, or if a whore-monger, a thief, or any foresworn villain, seeks to make reparation for his crimes by mass or pilgrimage, they would be loath to consider this lost labor. By God, on the other hand, such a disjunction of the form from the inward sentiment of devotion is branded as sacrilege. In the passage before us, the Psalmist sets aside and refutes a very common objection which might be urged. Must not, it might be said, those sacrifices be in some respect acceptable to God which are offered up in his honor? He shows that, on the contrary, they entail guilt upon the parties who present them, inasmuch as they lie to God, and profane his holy name. He checks their presumption with the words, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes? that is, to pretend that you are one of my people, and that you have a part in my covenant. Now, if God in this manner rejects the whole of that profession of godliness, which is unaccompanied by purity of heart, how shall we expect him to treat the observance of mere ceremonies, which hold quite an inferior place to the declaration of the statutes of God?