Psalm 36:2

It has been thought by some that this psalm was written about the time when Saul gave his daughter Michal to David with a treacherous design (see Walford, in loc.); by others, that it is a general description of some of the wicked men - such as Saul, Absalom, Ahithophel, etc. - with whom David was brought into contact (see Fausset hereon). But there is no clue in the psalm itself to any such specific historical reference. We see a special significance in the title of the psalm, which tells us that it was written by David as a servant of Jehovah, and banded by him to the choirmaster for use in the songs of the sanctuary. We may regard it as a description of the heart of the ungodly, written in the piercing light of Divine revelation (see ver. 9), affording us a striking illustration of Hebrews 4:12, showing us that "the Word of God is" indeed "living and strong, sharper than any two-bladed sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow," being "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." We find, too, that the Apostle Paul regards the words, "There is no fear of God before his eyes," as a part of the Divine indictment against a sinful race, whether of Jew or of Gentile origin (cf. Romans 3:18). Hence the inspection of the human heart, the results of which are here stated, is one that has been carried on under the searching light of Heaven. And a terribly painful discovery it is, to find how much iniquity God sees hidden in the nooks and corners of the heart. For us to be always carrying on this introspection would be more than we could bear. Yet the wicked may well be asked to study their own hearts in the light of this description, that they may see how much they need deliverance from their dark and sinful selves; while the believer may well look into this description again and again, that he may see from how much he has been delivered by the grace of God.


1. The heart of an ungodly man has an oracle of its own. The Hebrew word translated "saith" is a noun, and means "oracle." Some would regard the phrase as elliptical, and as meaning, "The oracle [of God, concerning] the transgression of the wicked in his heart, is," etc. (so Cheyne and Olshausen). But it seems to us rather a satirical contrast. The righteous have their oracle, which is Divine. The wicked have their oracle, even transgression. The dislike of being governed by another is the governing principle of their lives. "Our tongues are our own: who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:14; 2:3). Hence their "oracle" is dictated, not by loyalty, but by rebellion against God.

2. There are terrible negations in the godless man's life. (Ver. 1, "There is no fear of God before his eyes,") There is no desire of the Divine approval, nor dread of the Divine displeasure. It was reserved for the nineteenth century, however, to develop the most impious forms of this denial of God. There are not wanting novels, such as George Eliot's and others, which present model characters in social life on the basis of non-theism, and which depict it as a virtue to be without any fear of God whatsoever. This psalm deals with an evil which is by no means a thing of the past. It is developed to-day in frightful form, and puts on a guise of virtue to hide its ghastliness. There is a second negation (ver. 4): "He hath left off to be wise and to do good." The absence of the fear of God will soon be followed by the loss of respect for man, and the deterioration of general intelligence and of social virtue. There is no sustaining impulse for the highest excellence when God ceases to be enthroned in the heart. For a third negation here specified shows clearly enough the drift of the godless man (ver. 5): "He abhorreth not evil." The issue of a materialistic denial of God, and of a materialistic view of man, must be the denial of evil as evil. Evil cannot exist if atoms of matter be all. For molecules never break the ranks, and can never get out of harness. And he who first abhors not evil, out of senseless bravado, will come to deny evil altogether, and will let his passions hurry him whither they will, on the inward plea that he is "acting according to nature."

3. There are equally terrible positive evils in the godless man's life. First, evils in thought (ver. 3). The psalmist means either that, in spite of his godlessness, he has a very good opinion of himself, or else that he flatters himself his sins will never come out to light, and be found out in all their naked ugliness. Nor is this all. But he positively deviseth mischief upon his bed (ver. 5). Even in the night he is pursuing schemes of serf-gratification, altogether regardless of righteousness or of the good of others. A second form of positive ill is found in his words (ver. 4). Truthlessness will soon follow godlessness. And when in his eye God ceases to be, it will not be long ere right ceases to be right, and truth to be truth. And a third form of ill will develop itself. "He setteth himself in a way that is not good." He plants his feet, he takes a determined stand, in the direction of gratifying self rather than in the direction of pleasing Cod. And will aim at nothing but "utility," in the narrow sense of hedonism. Right as right will have disappeared from the gaze of his eye, and will cease to govern either deed, word, or thought. How terrible a picture is this of unchecked human depravity!


1. It is a very solemn thought that we are thus being inspected, at every moment, by an all-searching gaze. It is only where Divine revelation has been vouchsafed that sin is dealt with so very seriously, and that the heart is thus depicted so minutely.

2. How fearful the descent of sin, and how encroaching are its inroads on character! Yet, after all, we need hot fall into the error of supposing that the Word of God regards all as equally guilty or as equally corrupt. Yet, as the Apostle Paul shows in the second and third chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, where he is handling the indictment which stands in God's Law against us, we are "all under sin." If the Jew has sinned against a written Law, the Gentile has sinned against an unwritten law. Hence both are "guilty before God;" although the measure of each one's guilt, and the depth of each one's corruption, can be judged accurately by God alone.

3. Let us be devout/y thankful that we may know the worst of ourselves by comparing what we are with the pure and holy Law of God. To know the disease is an important step in seeking for a cure.

4. Even if we have not gone such lengths is guilt and maddened sin as are here described, let us thankfully acknowledge that we owe it to the restraining providence of God. For, alas! the germs of all ill are in each of us.

5. We need a deliverance from ourselves. We need forgiveness for guilt, and cleansing from corruption.

6. Since all are under sin, how righteous is the retirement of the gospel! "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." No man is as good as he ought to be, nor yet as good as be knows he ought to be. And for this he ought to be sorry and to mourn his guilt persistently before God. When he is thus ready to put sin away by repenting of it, God is ready to put it away by forgiving it.

7. It is the glory of the gospel that it takes into account all our needs, from every possible point of view. In Christ we have pardon for the penitent's sin, and cleansing from the foulest corruption. Yea, through the Spirit of God we may be regenerated, and sanctified, and snatched from the power of darkness to the kingdom of God's dear Son.

8. It is only in that very Word which looks at sin most seriously that man is regarded most hopefully. Man and his sins are not inseparable They may be parted. And when this blessed effect is brought about, "being made free from sin, and become servants unto God," they will "have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." - C.

My soul shall he joyful in the Lord.
It is not often that we meet with a truly joyous face. We see many a brow curved with humour, and lips with their wreath of mirth, but the eyes seldom beam the glory of that quiet delight which is named in our text. Everybody has some joy; but in many cases it is spurious like a bad shilling, and unreliable like the grass which grows over the marsh on a moor. But real joy is wholesome, beneficent and abiding; and it is for all. It is seldom or never found in external things; it is an inward state of the soul. Joy may be likened to a seat under the shade of a tree to which you can go at once for rest, and it is as free as a street fountain with the cup hanging ready for the thirsty traveller to drink; anybody may take the cup and drink. True joy is not a fiction; to be expressed, it must be felt. As you cannot have a river without a spring or source, neither can you have true joy without its fountain which flows from the heart of God.

I. THE SECRET CAUSE of joy in the Christian is —

1. That he possesses all things. The great cry of the human heart is — "I want this; O that I could have that!" Our failing is discontentedness; the glory of Christianity is contentment, not empty and fleeting, but full, overflowing, and everlasting. Under the Atlantic ocean is a cable through which passes a wire connecting the coast of England with that of America, and though there are great storms and crashing icebergs on the ocean, the cable under the sea is undisturbed; the lightning message passes along the three thousand miles of wire silently and in the twinkling of an eye. Likewise, the soul of the Christian, no matter whether he may be in a dungeon, awaiting a martyr's death, or upon a throne, the object of the people's praise, is serene because it is in communion with God.

2. That our sins are all forgiven.

3. The sense of salvation also inspires one's soul to be joyful in the Lord.

4. The promise of heaven. Some of you may say, "What you have said is of no use to me, for I am not a Christian; I am not good; there is no chance for me." You think God must draw the line somewhere, that He cannot take you in; that He may receive other people, but He cannot admit you. Now the Bible says, "Whosoever will." You cannot be too wicked for God to save; for He is able to save to the very uttermost all that pray unto Him. Therefore, come.

(W. Birch:)

David, Psalmist
Comfort, Detect, Discovery, Flattereth, Flatters, Hate, Hated, Hateful, Hatred, Iniquity, Sin, Smooth, Takes, Uncovered
1. The grievous state of the wicked
8. The excellence of God's mercy
10. David prays for favor to God's children

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 36:2

     8805   pride, results

Psalm 36:1-2

     5896   irreverence
     8710   atheism

Psalm 36:1-4

     5943   self-deception
     6169   godlessness
     8442   good works

Sky, Earth, and Sea: a Parable of God
'Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 6. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast. 7. How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.' --PSALM xxxvi. 5-7. This wonderful description of the manifold brightness of the divine nature is introduced in this psalm with singular abruptness. It is set side by side
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

What Men Find Beneath the Wings of God
'They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. 9. For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light.' --PSALM xxxvi. 8, 9. In the preceding verses we saw a wonderful picture of the boundless perfections of God; His lovingkindness, faithfulness, righteousness, and of His twofold act, the depths of His judgments and the plainness of His merciful preservation of man and beast. In these verses we have
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Divine Hunger and Thirst
(Preached before the Queen.) Psalm xxxvi. 7, 8, 9. How excellent is thy loving-kindness, 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. This is a great saying. So great that we shall never know, certainly never in this life, how much it means. It speaks of being
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons

How is Christ, as the Life, to be Applied by a Soul that Misseth God's Favour and Countenance.
The sixth case, that we shall speak a little to, is a deadness, occasioned by the Lord's hiding of himself, who is their life, and "the fountain of life," Ps. xxxvi. 9, and "whose loving-kindness is better than life," Ps. lxiii. 3, and "in whose favour is their life," Ps. xxx. 5. A case, which the frequent complaints of the saints manifest to be rife enough, concerning which we shall, 1. Shew some of the consequences of the Lord's hiding his face, whereby the soul's case will appear. 2. Shew the
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Wherefore this do Ye, virgins of God, this do Ye...
53. Wherefore this do ye, virgins of God, this do ye: follow ye the Lamb, whithersoever He shall have gone. But first come unto Him, Whom ye are to follow, and learn, in that He is meek and lowly of heart. Come ye in lowly wise unto the Lowly, if ye love: and depart not from Him, lest ye fall. For whoso fears to depart from Him asks and says, "Let there not come to me foot of pride." [2214] Go on in the way of loftiness with the foot of lowliness; Himself lifteth up such as follow in lowly wise,
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

Let Thus Much have Been Said with Regard to Charity...
20. Let thus much have been said with regard to charity, without which in us there cannot be true patience, because in good men it is the love of God which endureth all things, as in bad men the lust of the world. But this love is in us by the Holy Spirit which was given us. Whence, of Whom cometh in us love, of Him cometh patience. But the lust of the world, when it patiently bears the burdens of any manner of calamity, boasts of the strength of its own will, like as of the stupor of disease, not
St. Augustine—On Patience

Nor do they Attend to This, that if Another Should Say...
3. Nor do they attend to this, that if another should say, that the Lord indeed, speaking in parables and in similitudes concerning spiritual food and clothing, did warn that not on these accounts should His servants be solicitous; (as He saith, "When they shall drag you to judgment-seats, take no thought what ye shall speak. For it will be given you in that hour what ye shall speak: but it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." [2479] For the discourse of spiritual
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.

The Knowledge of God Stifled or Corrupted, Ignorantly or Maliciously.
1. The knowledge of God suppressed by ignorance, many falling away into superstition. Such persons, however, inexcusable, because their error is accompanied with pride and stubbornness. 2. Stubbornness the companion of impiety. 3. No pretext can justify superstition. This proved, first, from reason; and, secondly, from Scripture. 4. The wicked never willingly come into the presence of God. Hence their hypocrisy. Hence, too, their sense of Deity leads to no good result. 1. But though experience testifies
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

The Fourth Continental Journey.
1842-3. In the journey which now lay before them, John and Martha Yeardley were about to explore a part of Europe hitherto untried,--the province of Languedoc, conspicuous in past ages for its superior enlightenment, but now, owing to the temporary mastery of error, wrapt in ignorance and gloom. In this mission, the opportunities which they found for reviving and gathering together the scattered embers of truth, were nearly confined to social intercourse; in seeking occasions for which, they availed
John Yeardley—Memoir and Diary of John Yeardley, Minister of the Gospel

Epistle xvi. From Felix Bishop of Messana to St. Gregory.
From Felix Bishop of Messana [243] to St. Gregory. To the most blessed and honourable lord, the holy father Pope Gregory, Felix lover of your Weal and Holiness. The claims under God of your most blessed Weal and Holiness are manifest. For, though the whole earth was filled with observance of the true faith by the preaching and doctrine of the apostles, yet the orthodox Church of Christ, having been founded by apostolical institution and most firmly established by the faithful fathers, is further
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Instruction for the Ignorant:
BEING A SALVE TO CURE THAT GREAT WANT OF KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SO MUCH REIGNS BOTH IN YOUNG AND OLD. PREPARED AND PRESENTED TO THEM IN A PLAIN AND EASY DIALOGUE, FITTED TO THE CAPACITY OF THE WEAKEST. 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.'--Hosea 4:6 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This little catechism is upon a plan perfectly new and unique. It was first published as a pocket volume in 1675, and has been republished in every collection of the author's works; and recently in a separate tract.
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Of Self-Surrender
Of Self-Surrender We should now begin to abandon and give up our whole existence unto God, from the strong and positive conviction, that the occurrence of every moment is agreeable to His immediate will and permission, and just such as our state requires. This conviction will make us resigned in all things; and accept of all that happens, not as from the creature, but as from God Himself. But I conjure you, my dearly beloved, who sincerely wish to give up yourselves to God, that after you have made
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

The Eternity of Heaven's Happiness.
Having endeavored, in the foregoing pages, to form to ourselves some idea of the glorious happiness reserved for us in heaven, there still remains to say something of its crowning glory--the eternity of its duration. This is not only its crowning glory, but it is, moreover, an essential constituent of that unspeakable joy which now inebriates the souls of the blessed. A moment's reflection will make this evident. Let us suppose, for the sake of illustration, that on the last day, God should thus
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven

"Thou Shall Keep Him in Perfect Peace, Whose Mind is Stayed on Thee, Because He Trusteth in Thee. "
Isaiah xxvi. 3.--"Thou shall keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." Christ hath left us his peace, as the great and comprehensive legacy, "My peace I leave you," John xiv. 27. And this was not peace in the world that he enjoyed; you know what his life was, a continual warfare; but a peace above the world, that passeth understanding. "In the world you shall have trouble, but in me you shall have peace," saith Christ,--a peace that shall make trouble
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

Epistle v. To Theoctista, Sister of the Emperor.
To Theoctista, Sister of the Emperor. Gregory to Theoctista, &c. With how great devotion my mind prostrates itself before your Venerableness I cannot fully express in words; nor yet do I labour to give utterance to it, since, even though I were silent, you read in your heart your own sense of my devotion. I wonder, however, that you withdrew your countenance, till of late bestowed on me, from this my recent engagement in the pastoral office; wherein, under colour of episcopacy, I have been brought
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great

Division of Actual Grace
Actual grace may be divided according to: (1) the difference existing between the faculties of the human soul, and (2) in reference to the freedom of the will. Considered in its relation to the different faculties of the soul, actual grace is either of the intellect, or of the will, or of the sensitive faculties. With regard to the free consent of the will, it is either (1) prevenient, also called cooeperating, or (2) efficacious or merely sufficient. 1. THE ILLUMINATING GRACE OF THE INTELLECT.--Actual
Joseph Pohle—Grace, Actual and Habitual

Spiritual Hunger Shall be Satisfied
They shall be filled. Matthew 5:6 I proceed now to the second part of the text. A promise annexed. They shall be filled'. A Christian fighting with sin is not like one that beats the air' (1 Corinthians 9:26), and his hungering after righteousness is not like one that sucks in only air, Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled.' Those that hunger after righteousness shall be filled. God never bids us seek him in vain' (Isaiah 45:19). Here is an honeycomb dropping into the mouths of
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

What Messiah did the Jews Expect?
1. The most important point here is to keep in mind the organic unity of the Old Testament. Its predictions are not isolated, but features of one grand prophetic picture; its ritual and institutions parts of one great system; its history, not loosely connected events, but an organic development tending towards a definite end. Viewed in its innermost substance, the history of the Old Testament is not different from its typical institutions, nor yet these two from its predictions. The idea, underlying
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Letter Xlv (Circa A. D. 1120) to a Youth Named Fulk, who Afterwards was Archdeacon of Langres
To a Youth Named Fulk, Who Afterwards Was Archdeacon of Langres He gravely warns Fulk, a Canon Regular, whom an uncle had by persuasions and promises drawn back to the world, to obey God and be faithful to Him rather than to his uncle. To the honourable young man Fulk, Brother Bernard, a sinner, wishes such joy in youth as in old age he will not regret. 1. I do not wonder at your surprise; I should wonder if you were not suprised [sic] that I should write to you, a countryman to a citizen, a monk
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Notes on the Third Century
Page 161. Line 1. He must be born again, &c. This is a compound citation from John iii. 3, and Mark x. 15, in the order named. Page 182. Line 17. For all things should work together, &c. See Romans viii. 28. Page 184. Lines 10-11. Being Satan is able, &c. 2 Corinthians xi. 14. Page 184. Last line. Like a sparrow, &c. Psalm cii. Page 187. Line 1. Mechanisms. This word is, in the original MS., mechanicismes.' Page 187. Line 7. Like the King's daughter, &c. Psalm xlv. 14. Page 188. Med. 39. The best
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations

The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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