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Psalm 36

Jorine Johnson

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.

David explains in verses 1-4 of the sinful condition of mankind. Transgressions and lawless actions are deep within the heart of man, and he continues to transgress God’s commands because of the lack of the fear of God. In Psalm 34, David says how the righteous are those that are characterized by their fear and holy reference for God in obedience to all of God’s ways. The wicked are characterized by the opposite, breaking of God’s commands and disobedience. There is pride, haughtiness, arrogance, and even ignorance of the wronging that he perpetuates. The wicked are truly wicked.

It is easy to relate to this passage as we all continuously fall short of God’s standards, the longings in our hearts are for wicked things, there is nothing we do, our thoughts, deeds, and our actions speak loud. As Paul says in Romans 3:10-18: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That is the very definition of the human condition!

The fullness of our sinful depravity is truly astounding, and I think this is what David reflects about himself. We are unaware specifically about the context in which David writes this psalm, but it is certainly possible that David reflects on his own sinfulness especially considering he has committed some of the worst possible offenses, some of those offenses while he lays awake at night, committing thoughts of lust toward Bathsheba, a married woman in the deep of night, and then soon thoughts lead him to destructive action, resulting in adultery and murder of an innocent man. 

But praise God that the psalm does not end in us wallowing in our sins and wickedness, but on the wonderful grace and lovingkindness of God. Yes, the sinfulness of mankind and his depravity is far reaching, but the grace and loving-kindness of God reaches further; beyond the heavens is the love of God that transcends the full wickedness and evil of the human condition. The love of God extends beyond the heavens, far-reaching upward the clouds, and beyond dimensions (Eph 3:17-18). 

We can take refuge in the absolute love of God, there is a covering for the children of the Most High, the promise of eternal life, and most of all, Jesus Christ. It is the amazing privilege for us to experience the fullness of life in Christ, that in our sins we may experience the full mercy, compassion, faithfulness, and grace of God. It is liberating to know that we no longer need to live in bondage to our sins, but we can experience the amazing freedom in Jesus Christ.

Not only does God deal with our sins at the cross, there will be a day in which he will remove wickedness completely and all evildoers that continue to oppress the righteous. Oh the joy, as we wait in anticipation for the fulness of God’s Kingdom established and His righteousness declared. 

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