Religion that will not Save

Peter Barnes: Psalm 50:16-23

(2 June 2019)


On his journey, Bunyan wrote of Formalist and Hypocrisy. Every seven years, the whole law of God was to be read to the Israelites (Deut.31:10-11). Alec Motyer says that this Psalm would fit just such an occasion.

1. Hypocrites trample on God’s law.

– 50:16-20. In the middle of the third century, Oregon is supposed to have opened God’s book to expound it, read Psalm 50:16, and started to weep. He was fearful of being a teacher and a hypocrite.

– the hypocrite can keep some religious rituals, like the Old Testament sacrifices (50:8). But he hates God’s discipline (Prov.3:11-12) and is soft on sin – on stealing (50:18), adultery (50:18), and bearing false witness (50:19-20). Chrysostom points out that beetles have dung in their mouths while bees have flowers. That should help us to remember the point!

2. Hypocrites misread God’s longsuffering.

– 50:21. Note Ex.34:6; 2 Peter 3:1-4, 8-9. God is longsuffering.

– the hypocrite, however, thinks that God is like us. In sanctification, Christ makes us like Him; in hypocrisy, sinners make God like themselves.

3. A warning, a duty, a promise.

– the warning is blunt – 50:22; Gen.37:33. Hos.5:14. It is hard to make that wooing; it is a warning.

– 50:23a,b – our duty; 50:23c – God’s promise. W. S. Plumer: ‘Reader, Are you ready for the scrutiny of God?’