and understandeth not; from whence his riches and honour, come, and what use he should make of them, and for what end he has them; or that understandeth not spiritual things, which relate to the salvation of his soul; who does not know God in Christ, nor the way of salvation by Christ; nor has any experience of the work of the Spirit of God upon his soul; nor has any spiritual understanding of the doctrines of the Gospel; nor knows himself, his state and condition, and what true happiness is:
is like the beasts that perish; See Gill on Psalm 49:12.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 50
A Psalm of Asaph. This psalm is called a psalm of Asaph; either because it was composed by him under divine inspiration, since he was a prophet and a seer, 1 Chronicles 25:2; or because it was delivered to him to be sung in public service, he being a chief musician; see 1 Chronicles 16:7; and so it may be rendered, "a psalm for Asaph"; or "unto Asaph" (o); which was directed, sent, and delivered to him, and might be written by David; and, as Junius thinks, after the angel had appeared to him, and he was directed where he should build an altar to the Lord, 1 Chronicles 21:18. The Targum, Kimchi, and R. Obadiah Gaon, interpret this psalm of the day of judgment; and Jarchi takes it to be a prophecy of the future redemption by their expected Messiah; and indeed it does refer to the times of the Gospel dispensation; for it treats of the calling of the Gentiles, of the abrogation of legal sacrifices, and of the controversy the Lord would have with the Jews for retaining them, and rejecting pure, spiritual, and evangelical worship.
(o) "ipsi Asaph", Tigurine version, Vatablus; "Asapho", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.
even the Lord, hath spoken: or "Jehovah", Some have observed, that these three names, El, Elohim, Jehovah, here mentioned, have three very distinctive accents set to them, and which being joined to a verb singular, "hath spoken", contains the mystery of the trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine Essence; see Joshua 22:22; though rather all the names belong to Christ the Son of God, and who is Jehovah our righteousness, and to whom, he being the eternal Logos, speech is very properly ascribed. He hath spoken for the elect in the council and covenant of grace and peace, that they might be given to him; and on their behalf, that they might have grace and glory, and he might be their Surety, Saviour, and Redeemer. He hath spoken all things out of nothing in creation: he spoke with. Moses at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai: he, the Angel of God's presence, spoke for the Old Testament saints, and spoke good and comfortable words unto them: he hath spoken in his own person here on earth, and such words and with such authority as never man did; and he has spoken in his judgments and providences against the Jews; and he now speaks in his Gospel by his ministers: wherefore it follows,
and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof; which may be considered as a preface, exciting attention to what is after spoken, as being of moment and importance; see Deuteronomy 32:1; or as calling the earth, and so the heavens, Psalm 50:4, to be witnesses of the justness and equity of his dealings with the Jews, for their rejection of him and his Gospel; see Deuteronomy 4:26; or rather as a call to the inhabitants of the earth to hear the Gospel; which had its accomplishment in the times of the apostles; when Christ having a people, not in Judea only, but in the several parts of the world from east to west, sent them into all the world with his Gospel, and by it effectually called them through his grace; and churches were planted everywhere to the honour of his name; compare with this Malachi 1:11.
(p) "emicabit", Tigurine version; "vel effulgebit", Vatablus; "illucescet", Amama, Grotius. (q) So De Dieu.
and shall not keep silence; contain himself, bear with the Jews any longer, but come forth in his wrath against them; see Psalm 50:21; and it may also denote the great sound of the Gospel, and the very public ministration of it in the Gentile world, at or before this time, for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom in it;
a fire shall devour before him; meaning either the fire of the divine word making its way among the Gentiles, consuming their idolatry, superstition, &c. or rather the fire of divine wrath coming upon the Jews to the uttermost and even it may be literally understood of the fire that consumed their city and temple, as was predicted, Zechariah 11:1;
and it shall be very tempestuous round about him; the time of Jerusalem's destruction being such a time of trouble as has not been since the world began, Matthew 24:21.
(r) "veniat", Junius & Tremellius; so Ainsworth.
that he may judge his people; not that they, the heavens and the earth, the inhabitants of either, may judge his people; but the Lord himself, as in Psalm 50:6; and this designs not the judgment of the whole world, nor that of his own covenant people, whom he judges when he corrects them in love, that they might not be condemned with the world; when he vindicates them, and avenges them on their enemies, and when he protects and saves them; but the judgment of the Jewish nation, his professing people, the same that Peter speaks of, 1 Peter 4:17.
those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; or, "who have made my covenant by, or on sacrifice" (s); the covenant of grace, which was made with Christ from everlasting, and which was confirmed by his blood and sacrifice; this his people may be said to make with God in him, he being their head, surety, and representative: now these covenant ones he will have gathered in to himself by the effectual calling, which is usually done by the ministry of the word; for this is not to be understood of the gathering of all nations to him, before him as a Judge; but of his special people to him as a Saviour, the "Shiloh", to whom the gathering of the people was to be, Genesis 49:10.
(s) So Pagninus.
for God is Judge himself. And not another, or by another; and therefore his judgments must be just and righteous, seeing he is just and true, loves righteousness, and is righteous in all his ways and works.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
and I will speak: by way of accusation and charge, and in judgment against them for their sins and transgressions;
O Israel, and I will testify against thee; or "to thee" (t); to thy face produce witnesses, and bring sufficient evidence to prove the things laid to thy charge,
I am God, even thy God; which is an aggravation of their sin against him, and is the reason why they should hearken to him; see Psalm 81:10.
(t) "tibi", V. L. Vatablus; so Ainsworth.
or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me; or, "for thy burnt offerings are continually before me" (u); so far were they from being reprovable for not bringing their sacrifices, that they were continually offering up before the Lord even multitudes of them, though to no purpose, being offered up without faith, and in hypocrisy; and could not take away sin, and make atonement for it; and besides, ought now to have ceased to be offered, Christ the great sacrifice being now offered up, as he was in the times to which this psalm belongs; see Isaiah 1:14; wherefore it follows:
(u) So Tigurine version, Vatablus, Piscator, Cocceius, and Ainsworth.
nor he goats out of thy folds; the reasons follow.
and the cattle upon a thousand hills; meaning all the cattle in the whole world.
and the wild beasts of the field are mine; which are mentioned in opposition to domestic ones, such as they had in their houses or folds, Psalm 50:9.
for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof; with which, was the former his case, he could satisfy himself; see Psalm 24:1.
(w) "non dicam tibi", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus; "non dicerem tibi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Michaelis.
and pay thy vows unto the most High: meaning not ceremonial ones, as the vow of the Nazarite; nor to offer such and such a sacrifice, since these are distinguished from and opposed unto the sacrifices of the ceremonial law before mentioned; and much less monastic ones, as the vow of celibacy, and abstinence from certain meats at certain times; but moral, or spiritual and evangelical ones; such as devoting one's self to the Lord and to his service and worship, under the influence and in the strength of grace; signified by saying, I am the Lord's, and the giving up ourselves to him and to his churches, to walk with them in all his commands and ordinances, to which his love and grace constrain and oblige; see Isaiah 44:5; and particularly by them may be meant giving God the glory and praise of every mercy and deliverance, as was promised previous to it; hence those are put together, Psalm 65:1. This Scripture does not oblige to the making of vows, but to the payment of them when made; see Ecclesiastes 5:4; and may refer to everything a man lays himself in a solemn manner under obligation to perform, especially in religious affairs.
(x) Vajikra Rabba, fol. 153. 1. & 168. 4. (y) "confessionem", Montanus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
I will deliver thee: that is, out of trouble: as he is able, so faithful is he that hath promised, and will do it. The obligation follows,
and thou shall glorify me; by offering praise, Psalm 50:23; ascribing the glory of the deliverance to God, and serving him in righteousness and true holiness continually.
what hast thou to do to declare my statutes; the laws of God, which were given to the people of Israel; some of which were of a moral, others of a ceremonial, and others of a judicial nature; and there were persons appointed to teach and explain these to the people, as the priests and Levites: now some of these were abrogated, and not to be declared at all in the times this psalm refers to; and as for others, those persons were very improper to teach and urge the observance of them, when they themselves did not keep them; and especially it was wrong in them to declare them to the people, for such purposes as they did, namely, to obtain life and righteousness by them;
or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? which is to be understood, not of the covenant of works made with Adam, and now broke; nor of the pure covenant of grace, as administered under the Gospel dispensation, of which Christ is the Mediator, and the Gospel a transcript, since both were rejected by these persons; but the covenant at Mount Sinai, which was a typical one; and being in some sense faulty, was now antiquated, and ought to have ceased; and therefore these men are blamed for taking it in their mouths, and urging it on the people: and besides, they had no true sight of and faith in the thing exhibited by it; and moreover were not steadfast, nor did they continue in it, like their fathers before them, Psalm 78:37, Hebrews 8:7.
and castest my words behind thee; the doctrines of the Gospel, which they despised and rejected with the utmost abhorrence, as loathsome, and not fit to be looked upon and into; and also the ordinances of it, the counsel of God, which they rejected against themselves, Acts 13:45.
(z) "correctionem", Vatablus; "correptionem", Gejerus.
and hast been a partaker with adulterers; these teachers of the law were guilty both of theft and adultery, Romans 2:21; they are called by our Lord an adulterous generation, Matthew 12:39; and they were so in a literal sense; see John 8:4; and in a figurative one, adulterating the word of God, and handling it deceitfully.
(a) , Sept. "currebas cum eo", V. L. sic Eth. Syr. Targum, so Vatablus, Musculus, Piscator, Ainsworth.
and thy tongue frameth deceit; puts and joins together deceitful words in a very artful manner, by which simple and unstable minds are beguiled.
and speakest against thy brother; even to pass sentence upon him, to put him to death for professing faith in Christ, Matthew 10:21;
thou slanderest thine own mother's son; the apostles and disciples of Christ, who were their brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh; and even our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who was bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh.
and I kept silence; spoke not by terrible things in righteousness, deferred the execution of judgment, exercised forbearance and patience, and gave space to repent; which being despised, they were hardened yet more and more in sin; see Ecclesiastes 8:11. This refers to the space of time between the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem;
thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself; either that he did not see the things committed by them in secret, as the things before mentioned, theft, adultery, slander, and detraction, commonly are; because they could not see such actions done by others: or that he took pleasure in them, as they did, and that he approved of their crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, and of their contempt of his Gospel, and of the persecution of his followers;
but I will reprove thee: not verbally by the ministry of the word, much less effectually and savingly by his Spirit; nor in a way of fatherly correction and chastisement; but by sore judgments; by sending the Roman armies to burn their city and temple, and carry them captive;
and set them in order before thine eyes; that is, their sins, and thereby fully confute their vain imagination, that either he did not take notice of them, or else approved of them. This signifies a formal process against them, as in a court of judicature; bringing in a regular charge and accusation against them, and an orderly disposition of their sins, as to time, place, and circumstances, committed by them, and a strong evidence or thorough conviction of them, so as not to be denied and gainsaid by them: or a setting them in battle array, as in Job 6:4; in rank and file; sins being what war against men, and bring upon them utter ruin and destruction; as the sins of the Jews fought against them, and destroyed them; see Jeremiah 2:19.
ye that forget God; that there is a God, his being, perfections, word, works, and benefits;
lest I tear you in pieces; as a lion, leopard, or bear; see Hosea 13:7; which was accomplished in the destruction of Jerusalem; when both their civil and ecclesiastical state were torn in pieces; their city and temple levelled with the ground, and not one stone left upon another; and they scattered about in the earth;
and there be none to deliver; which denotes their utter and irreparable ruin, till the time comes they shall turn to the Lord; see Isaiah 42:22.