Psalm 36 – Finding Refuge from Human Wickedness

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD. The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil. Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me. There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

(Psalms 36:1-12 KJV)

Verse 1: “I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The psalmist begins by expressing their inner conviction and insight into the sinfulness of the wicked. They emphasize that these individuals lack the fear of God, implying a disregard for His authority and righteousness. This verse aligns with the observation in Romans 3:18, where it says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Verse 2: “In their own eyes, they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”
The psalmist describes the arrogance and self-deception of the wicked. They engage in self-flattery to the extent that they fail to recognize or abhor their own sinful behavior. This verse resonates with the danger of self-deception and the need for genuine self-examination found in 1 John 1:8, which says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Verse 3: “The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good.”
The psalmist highlights the corrupt speech and deceitful nature of the wicked. Their words are characterized by wickedness and falsehood. Moreover, they lack wisdom and fail to engage in acts of righteousness. This verse aligns with the teaching in Proverbs 10:32, which says, “The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.”

Verse 4: “Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.”
The psalmist reveals the persistence of the wicked in their evil intentions. Even during moments of rest and reflection, they continue to devise plans for wrongdoing. They deliberately choose to follow a sinful path and reject what is right. This verse echoes the admonition against harboring evil thoughts and plotting wrongdoing found in Proverbs 4:16-17, where it says, “For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”

Verse 5: “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
The psalmist shifts focus to the contrasting attributes of God—His love and faithfulness. They acknowledge the vast extent of God’s love, which reaches as high as the heavens, and His unwavering faithfulness that extends to the skies. This verse reflects the declaration of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness found in Psalm 57:10, which says, “For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

Verse 6: “Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.”
The psalmist highlights the immeasurable nature of God’s righteousness and justice. They compare God’s righteousness to the highest mountains and His justice to the great deep, emphasizing their magnitude and depth. Additionally, they acknowledge God’s care for both humanity and the animal kingdom. This verse aligns with the affirmation of God’s righteous judgments and His care for creation found in Psalm 145:17, which says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”

Verse 7: “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
The psalmist expresses awe and reverence for God’s unfailing love, emphasizing its immeasurable worth. They describe God as a sheltering presence, offering refuge and protection under the shadow of His wings. This verse corresponds with the depiction of God as a refuge and shelter found in Psalm 91:4, which says, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

Verse 8: “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.”
The psalmist contrasts the wickedness of the previous verses with the experience of the righteous. They describe the blessings enjoyed by those who take part in the abundance of God’s house and drink from His river of delights. This verse aligns with the imagery of God’s provision and satisfaction found in Psalm 36:9, which says, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

Verse 9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light.”
The psalmist reiterates the significance of God’s presence. They proclaim that God is the source of life, likening Him to a fountain. They emphasize that it is in God’s light that true understanding and illumination are found. This verse resonates with the declaration of God as the source of life and light found in Psalm 27:1, which says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

Verse 10: “Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.”
The psalmist petitions God to extend His love and righteousness to those who have a personal relationship with Him and exhibit upright hearts. They affirm the desire for God’s faithful love and righteous guidance to be manifested in the lives of His devoted followers. This verse aligns with the call to seek God’s righteousness and love, as emphasized in Psalm 119:34, which says, “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.”

Verse 11: “May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.”
The psalmist prays for protection against the schemes and attacks of the proud and wicked individuals. They seek deliverance from the influence and harm caused by such individuals. This verse reflects the plea for God’s protection from the wicked and their schemes found in Psalm 141:9-10, where it says, “Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.”

Verse 12: “See how the evildoers lie fallen—thrown down, not able to rise!”
The psalmist concludes with a declaration of confidence in God’s ultimate judgment. They envision the downfall of evildoers, emphasizing that they will be utterly defeated and unable to rise. This verse echoes the assurance of God’s judgment upon the wicked and their ultimate defeat found in Psalm 37:38, which says, “But the transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.”

Through the verses of Psalm 36, we witness a contrasting portrayal of the wickedness of humanity and the steadfast attributes of God—His love, righteousness, and faithfulness. The psalmist highlights the blessings experienced by those who seek refuge in God and the ultimate downfall of the wicked. It serves as a reminder of the importance of recognizing God’s attributes, finding refuge in Him, and trusting in His righteous judgments.


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