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Psalms 50:16-22

Context

50:16 God says this to the evildoer: 1 

“How can you declare my commands,

and talk about my covenant? 2 

50:17 For you hate instruction

and reject my words. 3 

50:18 When you see a thief, you join him; 4 

you associate with men who are unfaithful to their wives. 5 

50:19 You do damage with words, 6 

and use your tongue to deceive. 7 

50:20 You plot against your brother; 8 

you slander your own brother. 9 

50:21 When you did these things, I was silent, 10 

so you thought I was exactly like you. 11 

But now I will condemn 12  you

and state my case against you! 13 

50:22 Carefully consider this, you who reject God! 14 

Otherwise I will rip you to shreds 15 

and no one will be able to rescue you.

1 tn Heb “evil [one].” The singular adjective is used here in a representative sense; it refers to those within the larger covenant community who have blatantly violated the Lord’s commandments. In the psalms the “wicked” (רְשָׁעִים, rÿshaim) are typically proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander, and cheat others (Ps 37:21).

2 tn Heb “What to you to declare my commands and lift up my covenant upon your mouth?” The rhetorical question expresses sarcastic amazement. The Lord is shocked that such evildoers would give lip-service to his covenantal demands, for their lifestyle is completely opposed to his standards (see vv. 18-20).

3 tn Heb “and throw my words behind you.”

4 tn Heb “you run with him.”

5 tn Heb “and with adulterers [is] your portion.”

6 tn Heb “your mouth you send with evil.”

7 tn Heb “and your tongue binds together [i.e., “frames”] deceit.”

8 tn Heb “you sit, against your brother you speak.” To “sit” and “speak” against someone implies plotting against that person (see Ps 119:23).

9 tn Heb “against the son of your mother you give a fault.”

10 tn Heb “these things you did and I was silent.” Some interpret the second clause (“and I was silent”) as a rhetorical question expecting a negative answer, “[When you do these things], should I keep silent?” (cf. NEB). See GKC 335 §112.cc.

sn The Lord was silent in the sense that he delayed punishment. Of course, God’s patience toward sinners eventually runs out. The divine “silence” is only temporary (see v. 3, where the psalmist, having described God’s arrival, observes that “he is not silent”).

11 tn The Hebrew infinitive construct (הֱיוֹת, heyot) appears to function like the infinitive absolute here, adding emphasis to the following finite verbal form (אֶהְיֶה, ’ehyeh). See GKC 339-40 §113.a. Some prefer to emend הֱיוֹת (heyot) to the infinitive absolute form הָיוֹ (hayo).

12 tn Or “rebuke” (see v. 8).

13 tn Heb “and I will set in order [my case against you] to your eyes.” The cohortative form expresses the Lord’s resolve to accuse and judge the wicked.

14 tn Heb “[you who] forget God.” “Forgetting God” here means forgetting about his commandments and not respecting his moral authority.

15 sn Elsewhere in the psalms this verb is used (within a metaphorical framework) of a lion tearing its prey (see Pss 7:2; 17:12; 22:13).



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