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Psalms 50:20

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother - To the general character of falsehood and slander there is now added the fact that they were guilty of this in the most aggravated manner conceivable - against their nearest relations, the members of their own families. They were not only guilty of the crime against neighbors - against strangers - against persons to whom they sustained no near relationship; but against those of their own households - those whose characters, on that account, ought to have been especially dear to them. The words ““thou sittest”” probably refer to the fact that they would do this when enjoying social contact with them; in confidential conversation; when words of peace, and not of slander, might be properly expected. The word “brother” “might” be used as denoting any other man, or any one of the same nation; but the phrase which is added, “thine own mother‘s son,” shows that it is here to be taken in the strictest sense.

Thou slanderest - literally, “Thou givest to ruin.” Prof. Alexander renders it, “Thou wilt aim a blow.” The Septuagint, the Vulgate, Luther, and DeWette understand it of slander.

Thine own mother‘s son - It is to be remembered that where polygamy prevailed there would be many children in the same family who had the same father, but not the same mother. The nearest relationship, therefore, was where there was the same mother as well as the same father. To speak of a brother, in the strictest sense, and as implying the nearest relationship, it would be natural to speak of one as having the same mother. The idea here is, that while professing religion, and performing its external rites with the most scrupulous care, they were guilty of the basest crimes, and showed an entire want of moral principle and of natural affection. External worship, however zealously performed, could not be acceptable in such circumstances to a holy God.

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.
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