Psalm 50:21
God speaks to the whole nation in the previous part of the psalm; here to hypocrites.


1. They treated the Divine Law with open contempt. (Ver. 17.) Because they "hated" the control that it imposes.

2. They were guilty of the grossest violations of that Law. (Vers. 18-20.) Theft, adultery, and false witness, not only against their neighbour, but against their own brothers, showing that they had lost even natural affection. Observe the gradual, progressive power which sin has to corrupt the whole man.

II. EVIL MEN MISINTERPRET THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD. (ver. 21.) "Because sentence against an evil man is not speedily executed," etc. (Romans 2:1-4).

III. GOD WILL ASSUREDLY ENTER INTO JUDGMENT WITH MEN. (Vers. 21, 22.) Men are solemnly called upon to consider and remember this truth, that they may repent, and so escape destruction.


1. The love of a grateful heart. This glorifies God.

2. And the love of an obedient life. This only is salvation - obedience out of love. "He that hath my Word and keepeth it, he it is that loveth me," etc. - S.

These things hast thou done, and I kept silence.
I. DIVINE SILENCE MAINTAINED. He does indeed speak to you by the eloquence of creation; by the kind lips of providence; by His own inspired Word, warning, inviting, entreating and persuading you to seek Christ. But he does not speak to you in the same startling way now as He will speak to you in the world to come. His present silence is a proof of His long-suffering. He is not willing that any of us should perish, tie is anxious that we should all come to repentance. How wrong, therefore, is it for any to abuse this silence!

II. DIVINE SILENCE BROKEN. The forbearance of God only encouraged the Jews in their rebellious conduct. At length the Lord made the Roman armies the instruments of His correction. He then indeed "reproved" them, and "showed them the things they had done," in rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory. And what God then did towards the impenitent Jews He will hereafter do to all who lived and died in sin.


1. The duty of mutual forbearance.

2. The blessedness of cheerful resignation.

(C. Clayton, M. A.)

In this psalm we have a graphic representation of a court of justice: the judge, the court-house, the guards, the criminals. The accusations are of two kinds. Some are arraigned for formalism; others for grievous crimes. It is in connection with these that God says, "I kept silence." Concerning the silences of God, there is that which is —

I. THE EFFECT OF HIS PATIENCE. He is slow to anger, but this silence will not be for ever. Our duty is told in (Romans 2:4).

II. A JUDICIAL INFLICTION. See Saul, whom God "answered no more." Ephraim was "let alone." Christ silent before Herod. And so with hardened sinners now. Let us pray, "Be not silent unto me, O God, but," etc.

III. THE APPOINTMENT OF HIS WISDOM. "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God." We are to trust when we cannot understand.

IV. A TEMPORARY DISCIPLINE. His children wander, and God hides His face to lead them to repent. The power of silence is very great. "Be still, and know that I am God." "Aaron held his peace."

(W. G. Lewis.)


1. From His nature (Psalm 139.).

2. From the declaration of the Bible (Psalm 94:9-11).

3. From the universal consciousness of sinners: they feel that God knows their sins.

4. From the retribution that has overtaken sinners even in this world.


1. The spiritual improvement of humanity requires this, and —

2. The mediation of Christ explains it.


1. Sinners act as if they could conceal their sins from God as from man.

2. As if God thinks lightly of sin, or that time will make him, as it makes men, forget sin.

IV. HE WILL ASSUREDLY AWARD PUNISHMENT FOR HUMAN SIN. cf. Ecclesiastes 8:11-13. In that day God will set man's sins in order.

1. As to their real character.

2. Their terrible influence.

3. Their true desert. Sin, therefore, must either be punished or pardoned, as it can be in Christ.

(David Thomas, D. D.)

It is true God keeps silence. We might expect as soon as the sin is committed, as soon as the lie has passed the lips, or while it is trembling on the tongue, the lightning flash of God would strike him down dead, or when the false oath is uttered, that God would make His thunderbolt strike the wretch to the dust! "He is not a man," and therefore His are not the ways of man. Oh: the power of the silence of the omnipotent and infinite God, who could in a moment smite to ruin, to atoms, to annihilation the universe He has called into being, and yet poor, wicked, foolish worms dare to dash themselves "upon the thick bosses of His buckler," and to rush on in sin and iniquity as a war-horse rushes into battle. But the day is coming — "God has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world;" and that day, that hour no one knoweth; and yet there is the day, there is the hour, therefore God says — and this is the issue of such sad misconstruction, if persevered in — "I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Some He sets them before in darkness and despair. I have seen a few such cases, and they are terrible to witness, when a man awakes up to see the catalogue of his sins and he has no hope, but is given up to despair, and is abandoned by God; then a man has a foretaste of "the worm that never dieth." What must it be to have them set before us when it is too late? Oh! what a dark panorama of eternity passes before the mind, when, in the lurid light of eternity, a man reads the dread catalogue! Then turn to the Lord, now.

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

I. GOD'S KEEPING SILENCE. Now, our God is Jesus Christ. And, therefore, if we judge of what He will do by what He has done, this silence was to be expected from. Him. It is all of a piece with His conduct while upon earth. After the Divine intelligence which our Lord showed when He was twelve years of age, we read nothing more about Him until He was thirty. Many things must have gone on around Him which pained Him, and stirred within Him His zeal for His Father's honour; but the time was not yet come for Him to take notice of them. Now, what does such keeping silence mean?

1. That He seems to take no notice of the wickedness of men. It does often seem so. How many persons daily bring themselves by drunkenness and other shameful vices to a level lower than that of the beasts that perish! How are the poor ground down by their employers, as if those employers had a property in their flesh and sinews; nay, in their very life! How are God's Sabbaths broken continually, the Sunday being spent by many thousands among us, at best in perfect idleness, and at worst in a state of sottishness and stupidity! "Shall not I visit for these things? saith the Lord." And yet He holds His hand for the present, and merely stands by, looking on.

2. Another meaning of God's keeping silence is, that He does not now-a-days interfere with the order of nature. He lets things take their course, in heaven and earth. This was not so in the olden time, of which the Bible tells us. We read of miracles, that is, of changes of the order of nature, both in the New Testament and in the Old. But miracles are only for a season; and it is not in reason that they should be otherwise. When God had some new tidings to tell to the world, which they could not have found out by their own sense and wit, He gave to the men whom He sent with the message the power of working miracles. The miracles were a sort of bell which they rung in the ears of their generation, that people might listen to what they had to say, and believe that it came from heaven.

3. But since we know God to be grievously displeased with sin, there is something awful in His keeping silence while it is committed under His eye. If a child comes home conscious of having offended a parent, and the parent says nothing all that night, but merely looks very grave, the child is more frightened than he would be by a sharp rebuke or severe punishment; for if such rebuke or punishment were inflicted, he would, at least, know the worst; but when the parent is silent he knows not what may be hanging over him. In countries where earthquakes happen, a dead silence always goes before the earthquake. Nature seems hushed into an awful stillness, as if she were holding her breath at the thought of the coming disaster. So it is with God's silencer It will be followed, when it seems deepest, by the earthquake of His judgments. And so the holy apostle writes to the Thessalonians: "When they shall say Peace and safety" (from the fact of God's being so still and so dumb), "then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape."

II. GOD'S BREAKING SILENCE. "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence." We have seen that there was a great blaze of miracles when the Jewish dispensation was first set up, when Israel was called out of Egypt, and settled in the Holy Land. After they were fairly settled, God, for a long time, kept silence. And the silence waxed deeper and deeper, when the people were restored to their own lands after the Babylonish captivity, until at length His judgment came in the overthrow of Jerusalem, and the break-up of Israel's national life. Josephus has some wonderful statements about that awful time. Now, so will it be with the Christian Church. At the first there was a blaze of miracles, as with Israel, but ever since God has been keeping silence: God never interferes, so men think and say. Now, one day, when these men are crying, "Peace and safety," God will confound them by breaking silence. When our Lord comes the second time to earth, a far brighter blaze of miracles will shine around Him than that which ushered in His first appearance. The whole frame of nature will be rent in twain, as the veil of the temple formerly was, and we shall get a glimpse through the great cleft into the world of spirits; we shall see those things which here we have been called upon to believe without seeing — an innumerable company of angels, and a great white throne prepared for judgment, and Him who sitteth thereon. Examine your hearts as to whether you are among those who, when the Lord is thus manifested, will love His appearing? Is there no cherished sin, no darling lust, which you would dread above all things to have dragged into the light of His countenance, and laid naked and open under his eye?

(Dean Goulburn.)

I. How THE LONG-SUFFERING OR "SILENCE" OF GOD OUGHT TO BE INTERPRETED. Its perversion and abuse are most unnatural. This will be seen when we consider the principles on which God bases this administration. They are —

1. The appointment of a state of moral exercise and probation. Sudden punishment would render this impossible.

2. That we may see the evil of sin in itself as well as in its punishment. This also requires time.

3. That He may honour the sacrifice and intercession of His Son.

4. That He may manifest His love in seeking our recovery.

II. THE CORRUPT PERVERSION OF THIS DOCTRINE BY SINFUL MAN. They think that God is like themselves.

1. Most men live in a state of almost total indifference to their actions; they are in almost entire ignorance both of God and of themselves.

2. Others are unbelievers, infidels.

3. Others take partial views of sin, and, so long as external morality and the ordinary law be not violated, they see no reason for penalty.

4. Religious formalists, who think that God is pleased with mere ceremonies and outward things.

III. THE FATAL RESULT OF ALL THIS. "I will reprove thee, and," etc. Our sins shall be arrayed —

1. In their number.

2. In full light (Psalm 90:8).

3. As connected with their root, in the heart.

4. In their relations, for sins are related to each other.

(R. Watson.)

Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such as one as thyself. —
I. THE NATURAL TENDENCY OF THE HUMAN MIND IS TO THINK OF GOD'S NATURE AS CORRESPONDING IN SOME WAY WITH THAT OF MAN. The anthropomorphic representations of God in the Bible appeal to this natural disposition of the human mind. Made originally in the image of God, we naturally think Him the image of ourselves.


1. The savage's ideal of his God is like himself — revengeful, cruel, destructive. As nations get civilized and refined, they associate corresponding passions to their own with their representations of the deities they worship — e, g. Greece and Rome. A theologian with an arbitrary and iron disposition will speak and write of God as Sovereign — arbitrary and inexorable. A theologian with a tender and benevolent disposition will write and speak of God as a gracious Father, full of pity and love.

2. We need to be on our guard; we have elements and materials for our conception of God

(1)in our own consciousness,

(2)in the works of nature, and

(3)in the written Word; but all will be an apocrypha and not an apocalypse, without the light that comes along the pathway of intelligent obedience and unwavering faith.

III. THIS TENDENCY IS THE SHADOW OF A GLORIOUS FACT THAT HAS OCCURRED IN THE HISTORY OF OUR WORLD. In the Incarnation God took upon Himself the likeness of man, but He did not become altogether like unto ourselves. Christ was superior to the highest and best of men — unique, incomparable in purity and power.

(F. W. Brown.)

1. The state of a man makes his thought, and this thought has its influence on the present life and its prospects. Idolatry has its fictions of God, which are frauds upon men, who sink Him into grosser and more bestial forms. Superstition knows the same perversity, ascribing to God thoughts and practices that are unworthy His nature, concocted in a morbid imagination; ,as unreal as a system of belief would be which recorded your conceptions of men .or your Maker formed in sleep while suffering from the nightmare. There is a tendency and habit of weakness to form God weak-minded; of cruelty to conceive of Him as cruel. To the pure He is pure, and to the froward, froward. To the prurient all is impure, and to the fraudulent all is deceit. The mummeries of worship, the follies of priestcraft, futile prevarications, cunning compromises and the stratagems of love and of war show this same fact in human life. Now transfer this lesson to the facts of another world.

2. Dire retribution may arise by simple reproduction: Keep the Word closed and every line and letter of your creed hidden, and look out over the face of the earth. You see various forms of animal life below, but none above, man. Before a closed Bible and a silenced Gospel what precludes the prospect that human life is to go to lower and yet lower grades according to its bent and bias? You see the loftiest summit rise from the plain and from among the uplands; and you see it steadily crumble and fall lower. What is there more congruous than the notion of transmigration? If there be evolution, there surely is devolution, a degradation of species. Nature teaches it. The spirit of man goeth — where? That of the brute — where? With the Bible closed we cannot answer. If there be no Gospel, no Heaven, no hell, no resurrection, no redemption, still there is no proof that there is no future. If you do not go upward, you do not prove that there is no downward. What is your hope? Where is your God? Is He a deceiver and the world full of illusions, with no relief, no redress, no rescue, no resurrection and nothing of us to be? Is your God fate? If so, hell, as men have printed it, is but a trifle to what is now already; just as when the merciless breakers dash the drowning man in their seething, swirling eddies, the glare of the volcano in the distance or a raging conflagration is nothing; just as the news of the burning of all his property is nothing to one about to swing from the gibbet. What is your God? Will He be what you make Him now? He is not what unbelief represents Him to be, but He is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Open now the Bible, build your altar, bind the sacrifice! Acquaint thyself with Him and be at peace, for this is life eternal to know Him!

(H. S. Carpenter, D. D.)

Some one has said, In the beginning of Scripture we read that God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"; and, all through history, man has been saying, "Let us make God in our image, after our likeness." How apt the observation is, let the gods many of paganism, and the gods many of Christianity, testify. Men see as they are, and not otherwise.

1. What does the suspicious, distrustful person make God to be? He projects upon the Divine character his own character; and suspicion must therefore be a leading feature in the character of his deity. His God is a suspicious being, never trusting His creatures, but always distrusting them, and the suspicious deity has no friends.

2. What is the God of the selfish man like? His religion must be simply a branch of his selfishness — a thing of "all take" and "no give." Can his God be the God who "so loved the world," etc., and whose better blessedness it is to give rather than to receive?

3. What is the God of the hard, unforgiving man? A stern Shylock, for ever unbending as adamant, in his clamour for "the pound of flesh." Without a moment's hesitation, and without a thrill of pity, he can consign his best friend to a hopeless future, and think he glorifies the Divine justice thereby. Pity the man who can be content with such a conception of God.

4. What about the God of the superstitious? His God is perpetually his foe, and never his friend. He cannot help being a slave, in the service of such a deity. His one ambition is to appease His wrath, or court His favour. He must keep on good terms with a God so vengeful, that he may escape the punishment and receive the reward.

5. A grand, gentlemanly deity is the God of the mammon-worshipper. Majesty and dignity are in His every step. Almightiness encompasses His way. Marvellous display, imposing grandeur impresses His devotees. His robe — the rainbow; His crown — a circlet of stars; His chariot — the wind; His horses — the fiery coursers of the sun. What more magnificent and effective than such a God! But nothing attractive, nothing loveable about Him.

6. Contrast with these the God of the Gospels — the God of the simple, true and pure heart. His God is the good shepherd following the lost sheep out into the wilderness, the wise husbandman refusing to rush in wildly to pluck up the tares which an enemy hath sown in his wheat field, the yearning parent going out eagerly to meet the returning prodigal and anticipating his penitence and his pleading in the glorious glow of his merciful joy. These are the very highest attributes, of the highest and fairest earth has ever seen. These are some of the lights of the Exalted One in whom all fulness dwells. So the simple Christian clothes his God in that garment of salvation, and he walks side by side with Him on the earth, in the spirit of Him who said, "I and the Father are One."

(J. E. Hill, B. D.)

I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
It is possible to misinterpret the moral government of God, and many do so. It seems to some as if the world were so arranged as to offer facilities for sin. For sin is rampant everywhere, and yet God seems to take no notice, He does not interfere to prevent or to chastise. Now, if we let crime and wrong pass unreproved, our moral sensibilities become deadened, and we become culpably indifferent to the just principles of righteousness. On the other hand, if a man's sense of right is strong, and his moral sensibilities properly quick, he will not be able to control the expression of his resentment against what is an outrage on common decency or justice. But since God sees far worse things and more of them than any man can see, and yet does not intervene, we are apt practically to form some very false conclusions about His character, though few would have the temerity to state them. We feel as if God could not think so very seriously of sin when He contemplates it with such composure. Surely if sin were so very terrible an evil its consequences would be more apparent; it does not seem such a very appalling or abhorrent thing to us, and apparently neither does it seem so to God. And this is because men misunderstand and misinterpret the majestic silence of God. "I kept silence" — this has been God's rule, and upon it men presume. To guard against this let us seek to have a true view of this characteristic of the Divine government. Why does God keep silence, and show Himself patient as well as strong, although He be provoked every day? Not because He is indifferent to sin, and not because He does not intend to punish it, but because He has ordained certain conditions for our probation here, and He is not so inconsistent as to reverse them. Man was created by God in His own image, in this respect above all others, that he possessed from the first a power of independent volition, a capacity of free-will, by the right and dutiful exercise of which he was to be raised to his proper destiny, and fitted to share the glories of the Divine Being. Man, therefore, must not be forced to act rightly. If a highwayman demands your money with a pistol at your ear, you may exercise your will in handing him your purse, but it is hardly a free will. If an officer of justice catches you when you were just preparing to appropriate your neighbour's property, your will may decide in this instance to be honest, but it is hardly a free will. And so God keeps silence, lets men do as they like, not coercing them by prompt penalty every time they transgress. How solemn and impressive is this silence of God. Slight natures may easily be stirred and goaded into frenzy, but it takes much more to awaken those of a grave and resolute character. But when such are moved, then their indignation is terrible. A silent God is not to be despised and trifled with. And lest His silence should mislead us, He does on rare occasions break His rule of silence. And because this is so unusual it is all the more impressive. A gentleman came up to me in the streets of Liverpool a few years ago, and told me of an incident in my dear father's ministry, of which he was an eye-witness, many years before. "Your father," said he, "was preaching on a then vacant spot of ground near where St: George's Hall now stands. Directly opposite the place where he was standing an ungodly publican, finding his business interfered with, came out, and endeavoured to interrupt the proceedings, mimicking the preacher's manner and gestures, and using very horrible language. I remember," said the gentleman, "how solemnly your dear father turned round upon him and said, 'Take care, my friend, it is not me, but my Master that you are mocking, and remember you cannot mock God with impunity; take care lest you draw down upon your head His just vengeance.' He afterwards announced that he would preach in the same spot the next Sunday afternoon, which he did; and as he gave out his text, you may imagine the feeling of awe that settled down upon the crowd as they saw a hearse draw up to the door of the public-house to carry away the corpse of that very man who one short week before had been defying God and insulting His messenger." Why are such things allowed from time to time to happen? Because God has made a mistake in keeping silence? Nay, verily; but because He sees it necessary from time to time to remind us that, though silent, He is not blind, and though self-controlled, He is not unconcerned. Now, the curse which came on the world when Adam sinned, and afterwards the flood, and chief of all the death of our Lord Jesus Christ — these are three stupendous facts in human history in which we may say, God has broken silence. The cross of Calvary is God's reproof to a world, and from that cross there sounds forth through all time the admonition, "Now consider this, ye that forget God." And God has sent His Holy Spirit especially to carry on this work of reproof, and when He lays hold upon us it soon comes to pass that there is nothing left in our past life that we can bear to look upon. We begin to see ourselves as God sees us, and therefore we abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes. In one way or other these solemn words of God will be fulfilled, "I will reprove thee, and set before thee in order the things that thou hast done." Ere yet that terrible reproof "break your heart," and the thunder of God's voice shake the ground from under your feet, and leave you sinking in despair, yield to the gentler tones of His convicting mercy. Confess yourself a guilty, ruined sinner, and claim that pardon which shall cancel the record that is against you, and "purge your mortal archives."

(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

I. THE MANNER IN WHICH GOD TREATS IMPENITENT SINNERS DURING THE PRESENT LIFE. He is continually speaking to them in His Word, inviting, counselling and warning them to repent and flee from the wrath to come; nor does he fail often to speak to them in the same manner, by the voice of conscience. But, as a Judge, he usually observes the most profound silence. If it be asked, why God thus keeps silence; I answer, because this life is a season of trial and probation. Men are placed in this world, that they may show what is in their hearts, and thus discover their true characters. He sets before them in the works of creation sufficient evidence of His existence and perfections; He lays them under obligations to love and thank Him by the blessings of His providence; He clearly prescribes their duty, and gives them directions for its performance, in His Word; He places conscience in their breasts, as an overseer and monitor; and then, wrapped up in His own invisibility, sits silent and unseen, to notice and record their conduct.

II. THE OPINIONS WHICH SINNERS FORM OF GOD, IN CONSEQUENCE OF HIS THUS KEEPING SILENCE. "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." It is their opinions of His moral character, of His views and feelings with respect to themselves and their conduct, to which the assertion refers. In this respect every unawakened sinner supposes, or at least acts as if he supposed, that God is altogether such an one as himself. Feeling no immediate tokens of God's displeasure, he flatters himself that God is not displeased. Finding it easy to justify himself, and satisfy his own conscience, he fancies that it will be equally easy to satisfy God, and justify his conduct at His bar.

III. THE MEASURES WHICH GOD WILL EMPLOY TO CONVINCE SINNERS THAT HE IS NOT SUCH AN ONE AS THEMSELVES. "I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." This He will do at the judgment-day.

1. It implies giving the sinner a clear and full view of all the sins of his life, in thought, word and deed, in the order in which they were committed. Such a view no sinner has of himself in the present life. He is guilty of ten thousand thousand sins, which he does not even suspect to be sins.

2. It implies giving him a view of all their aggravations. All the mercies he received, all the afflictions which were sent to rouse him, all the opportunities, privileges, warnings and means of grace with which he was favoured; all the sermons which he heard, and all the secret checks which he experienced from his own conscience, and from the strivings of God's Spirit, will then be set before him, to show that he sinned wilfully and knowingly, against light and against love, and that he is, therefore, without excuse.

3. It implies giving him a full view of their dreadful malignity and criminality. Of this sinners see nothing in this world. They do not see what an infinitely great and glorious Being that God is against whom sin is committed. They do not see what an infinitely precious, lovely, and all-sufficient Saviour they are rejecting. They do not see what a heaven they are forfeiting, nor into what a hell they are plunging themselves by sin. They do not realize how short is time in comparison with eternity, nor how worthless the body when compared with the soul. But at the judgment-day they will behold every object in its true light.

IV. WHAT IMPROVEMENT CARELESS SINNERS OUGHT TO MAKE OF THESE AWFULLY ALARMING TRUTHS. They should be led by them to consideration. It is owing to forgetfulness of God, and to the neglect of considering these important truths, that sinners live as they do. They consider not in their hearts, says Jehovah, that I remember all their wickedness. Is not this the case with respect to some of you?

(E. Payson, D. D.)

Psalm 50:21 NIV
Psalm 50:21 NLT
Psalm 50:21 ESV
Psalm 50:21 NASB
Psalm 50:21 KJV

Psalm 50:21 Bible Apps
Psalm 50:21 Parallel
Psalm 50:21 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 50:21 Chinese Bible
Psalm 50:21 French Bible
Psalm 50:21 German Bible

Psalm 50:21 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Psalm 50:20
Top of Page
Top of Page