What does Psalm 50:17 mean?
ESV: For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
NIV: You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.
NASB: For you yourself hate discipline, And you throw My words behind you.
CSB: You hate instruction and fling my words behind you.
NLT: For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.
KJV: Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
NKJV: Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you?
Verse Commentary:
In this psalm, Israel is rebuked by God (Psalm 50:7). While they participate in sacrifices and rituals (Psalm 50:8), God rejects those rites (Psalm 50:9). This passage explains why: their sacraments are hypocritical and insincere. The people's attitudes and behaviors are drastically far from what they ought to be (Psalm 50:16). As the psalm continues, it will further detail how the nation's hearts were sinful, rather than godly (Psalm 50:18–21).

That Israel "casts" God's words aside reflects a sense of disrespect. They do not misunderstand. Nor are they making well-meaning mistakes, nor striving but falling short. The people of Asaph's era (Psalm 50:1) are deliberately ignoring what God has commanded (Psalm 73:2–3; 74:10). Complacency, such as in the New Testament church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14–15), is harmful enough. The nation addressed by this psalm is intentionally throwing God's will away. Proverbs 29:1 sounds a stern warning to everyone who treats God's words as worthless and rejects His discipline: "He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing."
Verse Context:
Psalm 50:16–23 closes with strong criticism for hypocritical worship. Israel is being judged by God (Psalm 50:7) for offering sacrifices (Psalm 50:8) but doing so while participating in blatant sin and disobedience. Mere performance of rituals does not buy God's forgiveness. The Lord condemns the ungodly attitudes of the people and warns of dire consequences for those who do not change.
Chapter Summary:
Asaph depicts God as an unimaginably glorious judge, calling the entire world to hear a divine verdict. Israel has offered sacrifices, but God ignores them. The nation rejects His laws. It is pervaded with blatant sin, even while they claim to be God's chosen people. The Lord's patience does not mean He does not notice. Those who continue ignoring Him will be "torn apart" without any possibility of rescue. Those who respond to God with sincerity will be rescued.
Chapter Context:
This psalm, written by Asaph, addresses the Lord's intended connection between religious rituals and daily behavior. When the people offer sacrifices, but blatantly reject God's laws, they invite judgment. This passage notes national sins mentioned directly in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14–16). In other writings, Asaph expresses frustration over Israel's continued rebellion and God's delayed response (Psalm 73:2–3; 74:10).
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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