Psalm 50:21

ESV These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
NIV When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.
NASB These things you have done and I kept silent; You thought that I was just like you; I will rebuke you and present the case before your eyes.
CSB You have done these things, and I kept silent; you thought I was just like you. But I will rebuke you and lay out the case before you.
NLT While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
KJV These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

What does Psalm 50:21 mean?

God, acting as a judge (Psalm 50:1–7) has criticized Israel for hypocritical, shallow worship (Psalm 50:8–9). They claim the Lord as their God, but participate in blatant, deliberate sin (Psalm 50:16–20). This echoes other Scripture in denouncing insincerity and arrogance in one's relationship to the Lord (Matthew 15:8; Hosea 6:6; Proverbs 8:13). Despite this, God has not been quick to punish the nation. This also reflects the Lord's depiction elsewhere in the Bible. The traditional term "longsuffering" is frequently used to summarize this part of His character (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; 1 Peter 3:20). In Isaiah 42:14 the Lord says, "For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself."

This verse also makes a crucial point about God's nature. In the original Hebrew, the phrase "that I was one like yourself" uses similar terminology to Exodus 3:14, where God refers to Himself as "I ᴏʀᴅ." Translators note the phrase here could be rendered as "you thought that the 'I ᴏʀᴅ' was like you!" The people of Israel were acting as if God was merely a human ruler or politician, who might not even notice their corruption (Psalm 10:3–4, 11). Yet God is not exactly like us—certainly not subject to our flaws and errors (Isaiah 55:8–9).

The Lord's temporary patience with blatant sinners can be frustrating; the writer of this passage (Psalm 50:1) made comments to that effect in his other works (Psalm 73:2–3; 74:10). Wicked Israelites in Asaph's time wrongly assumed that because God's judgment had not fallen yet, it never would. Of course, this is a serious error. First John 1:5 declares, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." That He delays judgment expresses His grace and mercy, not His weakness or indifference (2 Peter 3:9–13). That God has not acted instantly should not be interpreted as His approval of sin. The sinner's response to grace should be to recognize a prime opportunity to turn in faith to God. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2: "Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
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