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Bible: What Does Psalms 49-51 Teach Us About God's Justice and Grace?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Justice and Grace of God


Psalms 49-51: The LORD, God of Justice and Grace

While he introduces his song, the psalmist directly addresses all classes of people, claiming that his mouth speaks wisdom, the musings of his inner being (“heart”) provide understanding, his ear listens to sage sayings, and his mouth reveals riddles while he plays his harp (vv. 1-4).

His rhetorical question clearly implies that he senses no cause for fear as he confronts wealthy, evil men (v. 5).

What knowledge does he possess that gives him such confidence?

He understands that his foes (that is, those who would supplant him) cannot redeem their souls (or anyone else's) from death with their great wealth, for a soul's cost is beyond all human means (vv. 6-9).

Though men may believe that they will live on in their descendants and retain their wealth forever—so think the fool and his brood—they will all die like the beasts (vv. 10-13; cf. Eccl. 3:19).

The righteous, however, will rule the foolish; God will resurrect the just, but death will consume the wicked (vv. 14-15).

[Can this statement be considered as evidence for the annihilation of the wicked?

I do not believe so; annihilation is not under discussion here.

The text means that spiritual death will have a withering effect upon the souls of the foolish ones].

Reiterating his earlier wisdom, the writer counsels his readers not to fear the wicked rich man who receives the plaudits of men while he is alive, but who forfeits this glory upon death (vv. 16-19).

Spiritually ignorant people, however materially wealthy they may be, will have nothing at their end, just like the beast (v. 20).

[Other passages that deal with the topic of one's attitude toward the wicked rich and related ideas include Psalm 73, 1 Peter 1:18-19, and 1 Timothy 6:7, 17].

Amazing Grace Songs of Faith and Inspiration

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Psalm 50

God Desires a Thankful, Trusting Spirit

By using three names for the Creator (“The Mighty One,” “God,” “the LORD”), Asaph emphasizes Yahweh’s control over the Earth (v. 1).

From Jerusalem (Zion) [vv. 2, 3] He will gather His people (“those who have cut a covenant with Me by sacrifice”) from horizon to horizon for the purpose of judgment (vv. 4-6).

Since God owns everything, He neither depends at all upon Israel for sustenance, nor concerns Himself with His people’s outward offering of animal sacrifices (vv. 7-13).

What does concern Him, however, is their interior attitude toward Him; He desires a thankful and a trusting spirit (vv. 14-15).

The LORD reproves the wicked for their hatred of instruction (vv. 16-17) and for their many consequent unrighteous deeds (stealing, adultery, lying, and slander) [vv. 18-20].

He reminds them that they will not get away with all their transgressions, for, contrary to their fallible reasoning regarding His nature, He does not excuse wickedness as they do (v. 21).

In His final message to unbelievers, He promises judgment upon those who forget Him, but grace upon them if they return to him (vv. 22-23).

[A prevalent Scriptural theme, judgment and grace, appears again.

Your heart attitude toward God determines which treatment He will mete out to you].

Nathan and David


Repentance and Faith


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Psalm 51

David's Prayer of Repentance from Sin

The superscription provides invaluable background information about the contents of this psalm.

It tells the reader that David composed this prayer of repentance after Nathan the prophet confronted him about the king’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.

The wayward king pleads that God would show him mercy in harmony with His abundant covenant love and faithfulness (v. 1).

Acutely aware of his need for restoration to fellowship, David unites three synonyms stressing the nature of his wrongdoing—“transgressions,” “iniquity,” and “sin”—with three imperatives (“blot out,” “wash,” “cleanse”), asking God to free him from it [vv. 1b-2].

He recognizes that his sin offended God alone; thus, he can only blame himself when the LORD decides upon his judgment (vv. 3-4; cf. Rom. 3:4).

A Sinner from Conception

David notes sorrowfully that he was a sinner from conception (v. 5); nevertheless, he acknowledges that God still wants his life to exhibit truth and wisdom (v. 6).

For him to live righteously, however, the king recognizes the need for Yahweh to perform several miraculous works upon him:

(1) He must give him a spiritual bath (v. 7);

(2) He must restore his joy (v. 8);

(3) He must remove his sin (v. 9);

(4) He must create holiness and loyalty within him (v. 10);

(5) He must not remove him from his role as the anointed king (v. 11); and

(6) He must provide for him a fresh spiritual surge of joy and strength (v. 12).

Only after experiencing this grace can David resume his teaching and "evangelistic" ministries (v. 13).

The psalmist also asks for deliverance from the guilt that Uriah's planned death produced (v. 14a).

Once God grants it, the king pledges to lift praises to Him (vv. 14b-15).

Knowing that animal sacrifices have no effect, David plans to offer his “broken and contrite spirit” to the LORD (vv. 16-17).

On a community level, God must initiate Jerusalem's restoration before He will accept the peoples' sacrifices (vv. 18-19).

[Man's sinfulness and spiritual impotence necessitate that God initiate any restoration to fellowship].

© 2013 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      Thank you, Rayne123. God is good.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 4 years ago

      great hub, beautiful words

      thank you