What Right Do You Have to Tell of My Statutes?

What Right Do You Have to Tell of My Statutes?

In Psalm 50:16-21, God addresses the wicked. He says:

What right have you to tell of My statutes,
And to take My covenant in your mouth?
For you hate discipline,
And you cast My words behind you.
When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers.

You let your mouth loose in evil, And your tongue frames deceit.

The wicked scoff at the Bible and cast God’s word aside ... but when they stumble upon a passage of Scripture that seems to justify their behavior, boy oh boy, will they hasten to take up the words of God’s covenant and post it on Pinterest in calligraphic font!

Some knowledge requires a humble approach. Scientists chuckle when non-scientists confidently explain Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle but get it totally wrong. Lawyers laugh when clients think they know the ins and outs of law but run afoul of it. Doctors roll their eyes when medical jargon comes tumbling out of the mouths of patients. There is a certain amount of effort in study, a certain quiet respect for the subject, that goes into having the ability to speak authoritatively on such things.

Now, I’m not suggesting that knowing the Bible requires college coursework or years of experience. After all, the gospel is designed for everyone to understand (1 Cor. 1:20-28), including the young (Matt. 19:14) and the uneducated (Acts 4:13). But appreciating the Bible requires a certain amount of effort in study, and above all, a certain respect the God who inspired it.

It is distasteful to hear people with zero love of God make bold assertions about His word. Like, “Jesus says you can’t judge me!” (a perversion of Matthew 7:1). “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!” (a misuse of Philippians 4:13). “God wants you to be rich!” (a perversion of, well, the whole gospel). Christians become impatient when pearls are being trampled.

This is not a call to elitism. It’s a call for each of us to have the right attitude when approaching God and His word. For Bible study to have God’s intended result, it must be accompanied by submission and prayer. When a person is not interested in allowing the message of the Bible to do its intended work (2 Thessalonians 2:13), to draw us closer to God, what right has he to tell of His statutes, clumsily wielding the sword of the Spirit? It’s like when a kid uses grandpa’s prized pocketknife to dig in the dirt for earthworms. The careless abuse of Scripture by those who desire no relationship with God the author is rampant.

God is often patient with misuse of His word. But not forever. The psalm continues:

These things you have done, and I kept silence;
You thought that I was just like you;
I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes.

The silence of God has led evildoers to conclude that He not only winks at their deeds, but that He is in hearty agreement with their deeds. Or, to state it even more strongly, the patience of God has led evildoers to conclude that God Himself is like them. “You thought I was just like you!”

This is the very height of idolatry, the very definition of crafting a god in man’s own image. God declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). How dare we think that because we can’t seem to be faithful to one wife, that God is a philanderer (or has a wife at all). How dare we think that because we can’t seem to tell the truth that God lies when it is convenient. How dare we think that because we get tired walking around the block that God gets tired. This may be the concept the Greeks had regarding their pantheon—gods just as wretched, disloyal, limited, and passionate as they were.

But what folly to bring the gods’ standards down to the lowly standards of man. God demands we bring the standard of our lives up to His holy standard!

Let all know for sure, that our God is a holy God. A day is coming very soon when God will break His silence, He will “state His case,” and reveal His wrath and judgment upon mankind (3-4).