Psalm 36:1

PSALM 36 OVERVIEW

Title. To the Chief Musician, He who had the leadership of the Temple service was charged with the use of this song in public worship. What is everybody's business is never done. It was well to have one person specially to attend to the service of song in the house of the Lord. Of David the servant of the Lord. This would seem to indicate that the Psalm peculiarly befits one who esteems it an honour to be called Jehovah's servant. It is THE SONG OF HAPPY SERVICE; such a one as all may join in who bear the easy yoke of Jesus. The wicked are contrasted with the righteous, and the great Lord of devout men is heartily extolled; thus obedience to so good a Master is indirectly insisted on, and rebellion against him is plainly condemned.

Divisions. From Psalms 36:1-4 David describes the rebellious: in Psalms 36:5-9 he extols the various attributes of the Lord; in Psalms 36:10-11 he addresses the Lord in prayer, and in the last verse his faith sees in vision the overthrow of all the workers of iniquity.

EXPOSITION

Verse 1. The transgression of the wicked. His daring and wanton sin; his breaking the bounds of law and justice. Saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. Men's sins have a voice to godly ears. They are the outer index of an inner evil. It is clear that men who dare to sin constantly and presumptuously cannot respect the great Judge of all. Despite the professions of unrighteous men, when we see their unhallowed actions our heart is driven to the conclusion that they have no religion whatever. Unholiness is clear evidence of ungodliness. Wickedness is the fruit of an atheistic root. This may be made clear to the candid head by cogent reasoning, but it is clear already and intuitively to the pious heart. If God be everywhere, and I fear him, how can I dare to break his laws in his very presence? He must be a desperate traitor who will rebel in the monarch's own halls. Whatever theoretical opinions bad men may avow, they can only be classed with atheists, since they are such practically. Those eyes which have no fear of God before them now, shall have the terrors of hell before them for ever.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Title. To the Chief Musician, has given rise to many conjectures. In the Septuagint the Hebrew word is translated, eiz to telos, to the end; a meaning so utterly vague as to defy all reasonable conjecture. ... The meaning of the term appears to be this: the Psalms in which it occurs were given in charge by their inspired authors to the Chief Musician overseeing some specific band of music, whether harps, psalteries, or wind instruments. John Jebb, A.M., in "A Literal Translation of the Book of Psalms," 1846.

Title. The servant of the Lord. David only uses this title here and in Psalm eighteen. In both he describes the dealings of God both with the righteous and the wicked, and it is most fit that at the very outset he should take his place with the servants of the Lord. C. H. S.

Whole Psalm. First Part. A character of a wicked man Ps 36:

  1. He calls evil good Ps 36:
  2. He continues in it.
  3. He is an hypocrite Ps 36:
  4. He is obstinate.
  5. He is studious in wickedness Ps 36:
  6. Second part. God's patience and mercy Psalms 36:5 -
  7. To all, even all creatures.
  8. But particularly to his people, which he admires. Upon which the faithful
    1. trust,
    2. are satisfied Psalms 36:7 -
    3. The Third part. He prays that this effect may light,
    4. On God's people Ps 36:
    5. On himself Ps 36:
    6. His acclimation upon it Ps 36:
    7. William Nicholson (Bishop),

Verse 1. In this Psalm we have a description of sin, especially as it appears in those who have openly broken God's bands. The introduction is very striking; The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. How could the transgression of the wicked speak within the heart of him who in the inscription of the Psalm declares himself to be the servant of JEHOVAH? These words are generally understood as signifying that the outward conduct of the sinner, as often as he thought of it, naturally suggested this conclusion to his mind, that he was destitute of all fear of God. But they may perhaps admit of another meaning, equally agreeable to the literal reading; wickedness, saith of the wicked, within my heart, etc. According to this view, the psalmist meant that notwithstanding the external pretences of the wicked, and all their attempts to cover their iniquity, he was certain that they had no real sense of the presence of God, that they secretly renounced his authority. How was he assured of this? By a comparison of their conduct with the dictates of the heart. He could not indeed look into their hearts, but he could look into his own, and there he found corruption so strong, that were it not for the fear of God that was implanted within him, he would be as bad as they. John Jamieson.

Verse 1. It is not the imperfection or shortcoming in the fear of God, but the being destitute of it altogether, that proveth a wicked man: There is no fear of God before his eyes. David Dickson.

Verse 1. (last clause). Not having the fear of God before his eyes, has become inwoven into proceedings in criminal courts. When a man has no fear of God, he is prepared for any crime.

Total depravity is not too strong a term to describe human wickedness. The sinner has no fear of God. Where that is wanting, how can there be any piety? And if there is no piety, there must be total want of right affections, and that is the very essence of depravity. William S. Plumer.

Verse 1. Durst any mock God with flourishes and formalities in religion, if they feared him? Durst any provoke God to his face by real and open wickedness, if they feared him? Durst any sin with the judgments of God fresh bleeding before their eyes, if they feared the Lord and his wrath? Durst they sin with heaps of precious mercy before their eyes, if they feared the Lord and his goodness? Durst any flatter either others or themselves with hopes of impunity in their sin, if they feared the Lord and his truth? Durst any slight their own promises, professions, protestations, oaths, or design the entangling of others by them, rather than the binding of themselves, did they fear the Lord and his faithfulness, even the Lord who keepeth covenant and promise for ever? All these and many more transgressions of the wicked (all these ways of transgression are found among the wicked, it were well if none of them were found among those who have a name of godliness; I say, all these transgressions of the wicked) say, There is no fear of God before their eyes. Joseph Caryl.

Verse 1. The wicked man has no regard to the oracles of God: he had one in his own heart, which dictates nothing but rebellion. Zachary Mudge.

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 1. What is the fear of God? How does it operate? What is the effect of its absence? What should we learn from seeing such evil results?

Or the atheism underlying transgression.