The Remedy for the World's Wickedness
Psalm 36:1-12
The transgression of the wicked said within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.…

Consider the estimate here made of man's character and its cause. The language of the text is not that of David only, but of Christ, concerning the world around us. Man's transgression possessed a language which spoke to his heart, and what it said was this, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Christ knew what the fear of God was, for "He was heard in that he feared"; not, indeed, with the selfish, slavish fear of punishment, which is incompatible with love, and impotent to secure obedience; but that holy, filial fear which is inseparable from love, and which is a comprehensive term for all that constitutes real religion in man. We know the power of this in man's character, its practical power in giving man victory over the world, and therefore when he saw the transgressions of men he knew that the cause was — "There is no fear of God." Then he goes to the root of the disease; he puts forward none of the plausible excuses which men make for themselves on the ground of temperament, circumstances, and the like: but he goes to the root, for he knows also the real and only remedy. All others are vain: whether they be secular attempts to improve man's condition or to enlarge his knowledge, or to improve the institutions of civil government. Men believe in these things, and despise that vital religion which can alone help. What man calls wisdom, and wealth, and science, can do but little good, for they all terminate with creatures; they do not rise up to God. There is nothing in them to alter the real character of man. The reason is, that man, practically considered, is under the dominion, not of his intellect, but of his affections. There is no truth, connected with our composition, that requires and demands from wise men a more accurate and painstaking examination than this; because there is a theory of right in men's minds, and they deceive themselves into self-complacency by the admiration of the theory, at the moment that practically they are transgressing it. However strengthened the intellect by natural learning, it is still too weak for the conflict. The attracting object, soliciting the affections, gains the man; and he exhibits another specimen of the acknowledgment of the celebrated heathen, who "Knew the best, and yet the worst pursued." What is to be done for him? "His transgression saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." There is fear of man; there is a desire to obtain the good opinion of man; but all these are too weak for the conflict. He is still a transgressor, because he is devoid of "the fear of God." The next verses of the psalm give a remarkable description of his transgression, and show that it is mainly characterized by self-deception. "He flattereth himself in his own eyes until his iniquity be found to be hateful." It is not perceived to be hateful now, because he does as the world does. There are transgressions in which no man can flatter himself that he is right, but there are others for which he does not condemn himself, because society does not. It is concerning these, particularly, that he goes on flattering himself. And where is the remedy? The language of the psalmist, immediately after this, points out the remedy. "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 loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings." Observe the transition. From this contemplation of man's wickedness, he does not pass to a better class of men, because he was not contemplating that peculiar character of wickedness, in which man differs from man, but he was contemplating the root of man's malady, in which "there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." In immediate contrast, therefore, he refers to the character of God. Here is the only remedy — the character of God as manifested in Jesus Christ. "Mercy, .... faithfulness," "righteousness," "judgment, .... loving-kindness" — how are these glorious perfections harmonized, but in the Cross of Christ? Here, then, we find the urgency for preaching the Gospel among men. Here we find our stronghold of demand for every effort to promulgate the Gospel amongst our fellow-creatures. They who know the human character best, who have watched most minutely the turning point of man's feelings and his consequent conduct, know full well that it is the manifestation of God's love that wins the alienated heart and changes the alienated conduct.

(Hugh M'Neils, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {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.

WEB: An oracle is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked: "There is no fear of God before his eyes."

The Deceitfulness of Sin
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