Psalm 50:16-21 But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.”
Although at the beginning of this Psalm God calls ALL the inhabitants of the WHOLE earth to hear what he has to say (1), they are only to serve as WITNESSES to the Judgement he needs to bring against his Covenant People! He even refers to THEM (his Covenant People) as ‘the WICKED’ (16), a term that is usually reserved for those OUTSIDE God’s Covenant of grace!
The gist of his Judgement here is their failure to LIVE in accordance with what they PROFESS with their lips, or to act consistently with the outward sacrifices they dutifully bring. The Apostle Paul, who would a millennium later be born into this Covenant, describes their predicament like this: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:1-3).
And the psalmist, Asaph, exposes their fundamental problem: “You thought I was altogether like you.” (21). Man was made in the ‘image and likeness’ of God (Genesis 1:27), but, dissatisfied with this, we wanted to swap places with God and make HIM in OUR likeness and image. How prone we are today, with our inherited FALLEN nature, to DECIDE for OURSELVES what we want God to be like (eg emphasising his love/mercy and setting aside his wrath/judgement).
This is a powerful and timely reminder to us of the need, firstly to be committed to the inspiration and authority of his infallible Written Word; secondly, and consequently, to take time to read it and meditate on it ‘day and night’ (Psalm 1), and thirdly, to submit positively and actively to God’s TRUTH in practice, instead of allowing our culture, through the various media, to define FOR us, and to dictate TO us, the ‘truth’ concerning important issues like: biological sexuality, sexual activity being limited to within the covenant of heterosexual marriage, the sanctity of ALL human life from the moment of conception to the time when GOD brings our earthly life to an end; Jesus being the ONLY Saviour and the ONLY hope for eternal life; etc., etc.