The Worship that God Hates
Psalm 78:36
Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied to him with their tongues.

I. IT IS ALL TOO COMMON. This psalm is all taken up with the record of such worship. And it did not begin with the people told of here. What was Cain's worship but so much flattery and lying unto God? And all through the prophetic history, the like worship is perpetually denounced. The one class of people whose presence and contact even the wonted gentleness of our Lord could not abide were such as these - hypocrites. We know with what scathing words he was wont to address them. And the apostles of our Lord, after his ascension, were continually meeting with it and condemning it. And it is rife and rampant still. How terrible the contrast, so widely seen, between what men profess and what they really are and do! But -


1. Sometimes the visible anger of God will lead to it. It is the too common product of a religion begotten of terror and abject fear (see ver. 34; and cf. Isaiah 25:9). Such times will make men profess anything that they think will get them relief.

2. Sometimes it is from the contagion of common custom. Everybody makes a profession of religion; in many circles it is held to be bad form not to do something of the kind. But it makes no sort of difference to the real character or the ordinary conduct. It leaves the heart untouched, and too often worse than that.

3. There is a secret, undefined trust that there is some good in it, after all. People do not flatter their fellow men, nor tell lies to them when they are perfectly sure that no advantage will result; still less if they are sure that harm will follow. But they think they will be advantaged by it, perhaps greatly. And so in regard to God. Men think that their attention to religious observances, and the loud profession they make, must count for something to their advantage when the great reckoning-day comes. And hence the flattering and lying told of here go on.

4. And such people encourage one another. Religious teachers, judging only by what they see - and they cannot do much more - assume that all is right, and hope for the best, and so insensibly soothe those who really need to be aroused from their condition as with the trump of doom. Even under a generally faithful ministry a man who will not give up his sin can manage to suck a poisonous satisfaction from these flatteries and lies, whereby he has probably first of all deceived himself, and hopes to deceive God, as he has his ministers and his Church generally. But -


1. If there be amendment of conduct, it is very short-lived (vers. 34-40).

2. A heart made harder than before.

3. Repeated Divine chastisements, so that their life is a wretched one.

4. Final and utter rejection (vers. 59, 60).


1. Examine yourselves. Do you give time to regular secret prayer? Are you really consecrated to God? If so, then:

2. Trust Christ to keep you hour by hour and day by day. - S.C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.

WEB: But they flattered him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue.

Flattering God
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