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Psalms 50:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But unto the wicked - The bloodthirsty priests, proud Pharisees, and ignorant scribes of the Jewish people.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But unto the wicked God saith - This commences a second part of the subject. See the introduction. Thus far the psalm had reference to those who were merely external worshippers, or mere formalists, as showing that such could not be approved and accepted in the day of judgment; that spiritual religion - the offering of the “heart” - was necessary in order to acceptance with God. In this part of the psalm the same principles are applied to those who actually “violate” the law which they profess to receive as prescribing the rules of true religion, and which they profess to teach to others. The design of the psalm is not merely to reprove the mass of the people as mere formalists in religion, but especially to reprove the leaders and teachers of the people, who, under the form of religion, gave themselves up to a course of life wholly inconsistent with the true service of God. The address here, therefore, is to those who, while they professed to be teachers of religion, and to lead the devotions of others, gave themselves up to abandoned lives.

What hast thou to do - What right hast thou to do this? How can people, who lead such lives, consistently and properly do this? The idea is, that they who profess to declare the law of a holy God should be themselves holy; that they who profess to teach the principles and doctrines of true religion should themselves be examples of purity and holiness.

To declare my statutes - My laws. This evidently refers rather to the teaching of others than to the profession of their own faith. The language would be applicable to the priests under the Jewish system, who were expected not only to conduct the outward services of religion, but also to instruct the people; to explain the principles of religion; to be the guides and teachers of others. Compare Malachi 2:7. There is a striking resemblance between the language used in this part of the psalm Psalm 50:16-20 and the language of the apostle Paul in Romans 2:17-23; and it would seem probable that the apostle in that passage had this portion of the psalm in his eye. See the notes at that passage.

Or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth - Either as professing faith in it, and a purpose to be governed by it - or, more probably, as explaining it to others. The ““covenant”” here is equivalent to the “law” of God, or the principles of his religion; and the idea is, that he who undertakes to explain that to others, should himself be a holy man. He can have no “right” to attempt to explain it, if he is otherwise; he cannot hope to be “able” to explain it, unless he himself sees and appreciates its truth and beauty. This is as true now of the Gospel as it was of the law. A wicked man can have no right to undertake the work of the Christian ministry, nor can he be able to explain to others what he himself does not understand.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Hypocrisy is wickedness, which God will judge. And it is too common, for those who declare the Lord's statutes to others, to live in disobedience to them themselves. This delusion arises from the abuse of God's long-suffering, and a wilful mistake of his character and the intention of his gospel. The sins of sinners will be fully proved on them in the judgment of the great day. The day is coming when God will set their sins in order, sins of childhood and youth, of riper age and old age, to their everlasting shame and terror. Let those hitherto forgetful of God, given up to wickedness, or in any way negligent of salvation, consider their urgent danger. The patience of the Lord is very great. It is the more wonderful, because sinners make such ill use of it; but if they turn not, they shall be made to see their error when it is too late. Those that forget God, forget themselves; and it will never be right with them till they consider. Man's chief end is to glorify God: whoso offers praise, glorifies him, and his spiritual sacrifices shall be accepted. We must praise God, sacrifice praise, put it into the hands of the Priest, our Lord Jesus, who is also the altar: we must be fervent in spirit, praising the Lord. Let us thankfully accept God's mercy, and endeavour to glorify him in word and deed.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 338

Many go directly contrary to the above scripture. They do walk in craftiness, and handle the word of God deceitfully. They do not exemplify the truth in their lives. They have special exercises upon sanctification, yet cast the word of God behind them. They pray sanctification, sing sanctification, and shout sanctification. Men with corrupt hearts put on the air of innocence, and profess to be consecrated; but this is no evidence that they are right. Their deeds testify of them. Their consciences are seared, but the day of God's visitation is coming, and every man's work shall be manifest, of what sort it is. And every man shall receive according to his deeds. 1T 338.1

Said the angel, as he pointed to L: “What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, or that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth? seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest My words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.” God will scatter and shake off these dividing influences, and will free His people, if those professing the whole truth will come up to the help of the Lord. 1T 338.2

There is no Bible sanctification for those who cast a part of the truth behind them. There is light enough given in the word of God, so that none need err. The truth is so elevated as to be admired by the greatest minds, and yet it is so simple that the humblest, feeblest child of God can comprehend it, and be instructed by it. Those who see not the beauty that there is in the truth, who attach no importance to the third angel's message, will be without excuse; for the truth is plain. 1T 338.3

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