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Psalm 36

Human Wickedness and Divine Goodness

To the leader. Of David, the servant of the Lord.

1

Transgression speaks to the wicked

deep in their hearts;

there is no fear of God

before their eyes.

2

For they flatter themselves in their own eyes

that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

3

The words of their mouths are mischief and deceit;

they have ceased to act wisely and do good.

4

They plot mischief while on their beds;

they are set on a way that is not good;

they do not reject evil.

 

5

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

6

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your judgments are like the great deep;

you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

 

7

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

9

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.

 

10

O continue your steadfast love to those who know you,

and your salvation to the upright of heart!

11

Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me,

or the hand of the wicked drive me away.

12

There the evildoers lie prostrate;

they are thrust down, unable to rise.


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Ps 36:1-12. On servant of the Lord, see on Ps 18:1, title. The wickedness of man contrasted with the excellency of God's perfections and dispensations; and the benefit of the latter sought, and the evils of the former deprecated.

1. The general sense of this difficult verse is, "that the wicked have no fear of God." The first clause may be rendered, "Saith transgression in my heart, in respect to the wicked, there is no fear," &c., that is, such is my reflection on men's transgressions.

2-4. This reflection detailed.

until his iniquity—literally, "for finding his iniquity for hating"; that is, he persuades himself God will not so find it—"for hating" involving the idea of punishing. Hence his words of iniquity and deceit, and his bold rejection of all right principles of conduct. The climax is that he deliberately adopts and patronizes evil. The negative forms affirm more emphatically their contraries.

5, 6. mercy … and … faithfulness—as mercy and truth (Ps 25:10).

6. righteousness [and] judgments—qualities of a good government (Ps 5:8; 31:1). These all are set forth, by the figures used, as unbounded.

7. shadow of thy wings—(Compare De 32:11; Ps 91:1).

8. fatness—richness.

thy house—residence—for the privileges and blessings of communion with God (Ps 23:6; 27:4).

river of thy pleasures—plenteous supply; may allude to Eden.

9. Light is an emblem of all blessings, given of God as a means to gain more.

10. that know thee—right knowledge of God is the source of right affections and conduct.

11. foot of … hand … wicked—all kinds of violent dealing.

12. There—in the acting of violence, they are overthrown. A signal defeat.




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