Psalm 36

Into: Psalm 36 is a short and beautiful Psalm. It is full of great imagery, and ponders two great truths. Man’s wickedness, and God’s goodness.

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

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.

5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind 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 do we see light.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Main Point: The psalm starts by pondering the wicked, and the thoroughness of their evil (1-4). However, David quickly turns his attention to the goodness of the Lord. He ponders how high and exalted is His faithfulness. He proclaims that the Lord is righteous in all that He does(5,6). In the next stanza David focuses on how the Lord is the sustainer of life and the light of man. (7-9). David begins to close by asking the Lord to continue to show his steadfast Love to those who know the Lord and to keep the wicked far from them(10,11). The psalm ends where it started – considering the wicked. The difference this time is that David is pondering their ultimate destiny. They will come to ruin(10-12).

The point: He highlights the foolishness of the wicked who do not fear God even though he shows great faithfulness and love. He is the fountain of life and the source of all light. Yet they have rejected him, and their ultimate destruction is assured.

Interesting Points: The discussion of the wicked is very interesting to me. Notice in verse 1 it is a heart issue. Second, the fear of God is missing before him. This is the beginning of foolishness.

I love how David gives us a window into the thinking of the wicked; “He flatters himself in his own eyes” and thinks that is evil acts won’t catch up with him. This is where I see wickedness in my own heart. I fool myself into thinking that my motives are true and pure at all times. This is foolishness.

This foolish thinking leads him to foolish actions. His words become trouble, and he ceases to do what is good. The cancer has spread so far that now even in the quiet moments before he falls asleep he ponders how he might do more evil.

The descriptions of the Lord’s faithfulness are amazing. When David says the “heavens” he is most likely referring to the heavenly bodies like the stars and moon. Ponder this: the Lord’s faithful love for you extends to the edges of the universe!

The descriptions of the Lord’s justice/righteousness are great word pictures. His righteousness is like the mountains. It is unshakeable and unmovable. It towers over us. Then you move on to his judgments being like the great deep. My minds goes to the idea of them being unsearchable.

David is also telling us something when he describes God’s faithfulness being in the heavens and his judgements in deep sea. When you have opposites like this, its kind of like saying, “they are in the extremes and everywhere in between.” So when you combine these two word pictures of God’s faithfulness and his justice, you have the universe being full of the God’s love, righteousness, and judgements. There is no where to turn that they are not on full display. They are glorious and they are great.

I could just write pages on the stanza in verses 7-9. I love the picture of God putting a wing of protection over us. This stanza also reminds us of how there is real joy to be had in knowing the Lord. So much so that David calls it a “river of delights.” On top of this it reminds us that the Lord is the genesis of all life. There is no other source of life, spiritual or physical. What a great stanza!

It ends on a note that I will also end on… “in your light do we see light.” That is a great way of saying, “if we understand anything it is only because you have allowed us to see it.” He is the light that illuminates all our thoughts and understanding. Without the Lord we only see darkness.

Emotional Reactions: Simply in awe of the God whose faithful love, righteousness, and judgements fill the universe.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Quotation informationPurchase an ESV.

2 thoughts on “Psalm 36

  1. Thks Earl. Really good stuff. I’m gonna’ spend time in Ps 36 tomorrow for my QT. Keep on keepin’ on, Buddy. Pops


  2. Love this Psalm – thank you for your insights. It helps me to understand what David is writing/was feeling. I loved to word picture of God’s love being in the extremes and everywhere in between and how all too often I foolishly mimic his description of the wicked.
    thank you!


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