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36. Psalm 36

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

2For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

3The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

4He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

5Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

6Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

7How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

8They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

9For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

10O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

11Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.

12There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

6. Thy righteousness is as the mountains of God In this verse there is a commendation of God’s righteousness, which the sacred writer compares to the high mountains, (this being the manner of the expression — “the mountains of God,” for we know that the Hebrews were accustomed to distinguish by the appellation divine, or of God, whatever is excellent,) because his glory shines forth more clearly there. In the last place, it is said, that his judgments are like a great and bottomless abyss. By these words he teaches us, that to whatever side we turn our eyes, and whether we look upward or downward, all things are disposed and ordered by the just judgment of God. This passage is usually quoted in a sense quite different, namely, that the judgments of God far exceed our limited capacity, and are too mysterious for our being able to comprehend them; and, indeed, in this sense the similitude of an abyss is not inappropriate. It is, however, obvious from the context, that the language of the Psalmist is to be understood in a much more extensive sense, and as meaning, that however great the depth of wickedness which there is among men, and though it seems like a flood which breaks forth and overflows the whole earth, yet still greater is the depth of God’s providence, by which he righteously disposes and governs all things. Whenever, therefore, our faith may be shaken by the confusion and disorder of human affairs, and when we are unable to explain the reasons of this disorder and confusion, let us remember that the judgments of God in the government of the world are with the highest propriety compared to a great depth which fills heaven and earth, that the consideration of its infinite greatness may ravish our minds with admiration, swallow up all our cares, and dispel all our sorrows. When it is added in the end of the verse, O Jehovah! thou preservest man and beast, the meaning is to this effect, that since God vouchsafes to extend his providential care even to the irrational creation, much more does he provide for the wants of men. And, indeed, whenever any doubt may arise in our minds regarding the providence of God, we should fortify and encourage ourselves by setting before us this consideration, that God, who provides food for the beasts of the field, and maintains them in their present state, can never cease to take care of the human race. The explanation which some have given of the term beasts, interpreting it allegorically of beastly men, I regard as too forced, and reject it.


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