Psalm 36:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. For. Here is the argument to prove the proposition laid down in the former verse. David here runs over the process of reasoning by which he had become convinced that wicked men have no proper idea of God or respect for him. God fearing men see their sins and bewail them, where the reverse is the case we may be sure there is no fear of God. He flattereth himself in his own eyes. He counts himself a fine fellow, worthy of great respect. He quiets his conscience, and so deceives his own judgment as to reckon himself a pattern of excellence; if not for morality, yet for having sense enough not to be enslaved by rules which are bonds to others. He is the free thinker, the man of strong mind, the hater of cant, the philosopher; and the servants of God are, in his esteem, mean spirited and narrow minded. Of all flatteries this is the most absurd and dangerous. Even the silliest bird will not set traps for itself; the most pettifogging attorney will not cheat himself. To smooth over one's own conduct to one's conscience (which is the meaning of the Hebrew) is to smooth one's own path to hell. The descent to eternal ruin is easy enough, without making a glissade of it, as self flatters do. Until his iniquity be found to be hateful. At length he is found out and detested, despite his self conceit. Rottenness smells sooner or later too strong to be concealed. There is a time when the leprosy cannot be hidden. At last the old house can no longer be propped up, and falls about the tenant's ears: so there is a limit to a man's self gratulation; he is found out amid general scorn, and can no longer keep up the farce which he played so well. If this happens not in this life, the hand of death will let light in upon the coveted character, and expose the sinner to shame and contempt. The self flattering process plainly proves the atheism of sinners, since the bare reflection that God sees them would render such self flatteries extremely difficult, if not impossible. Belief in God, like light reveals, and then our sin and evil are perceived; but wicked men are in the dark, for they cannot see what is so clearly within them and around them that it stares them in the face.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes. The matter which this self flattery especially concerns is sin, as appears from the following clause. He deceives himself as to its nature and consequences, its evil and aggravations, and he continues to do so until his iniquity be found to be hateful; till it be fully discovered, and appear in its magnitude and atrocious circumstances both to himself and others, by some awful divine judgment, such as that mentioned in the last verse of the Psalm: "There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise." He adduces this self deceit and continuance in it, as illustrating the truth of that judgment he had formed of the state of such a person: There is no fear of God before his eyes: for he flattereth himself in his own eyes. And surely the proof is incontrovertible. For a man under the bondage of sin would never flatter himself in his own eyes, were it not that God is not before them. The reason why he thinks so well of himself is, that God is not in all his thoughts. He hath cast off all fear about himself because he hath no fear of God. John Jamieson.

Verse 2. He flattereth himself.

  1. Some flatter themselves with a secret hope, that there is no such thing as another world.
  2. Some flatter themselves that death is a great way off, and that they shall hereafter have much opportunity to seek salvation.
  3. Some flatter themselves that they lead moral and orderly lives, and therefore think that they shall not be damned.
  4. Some make the advantages under which they live an occasion of self flattery. They flatter themselves that they live in a place where the gospel is powerfully preached, and among a religious people, where many have been converted; and they think it will be much easier for them to be saved on that account.
  5. Some flatter themselves with their own intentions. They intend to give themselves liberty for a while longer, and then to reform.
  6. There are some who flatter themselves that they do, and have done, a great deal for their salvation, and therefore hope they shall obtain it; when indeed they neither do what they ought to do, nor what they might do even in their present state of unregeneracy; nor are they in any likely way to be converted.
  7. Some hope by their strivings to obtain salvation of themselves. They have a secret imagination that they shall, by degrees, work in themselves sorrow and repentance of sin, and love towards God and Jesus Christ. Their striving is not so much an earnest seeking to God, as a striving to do themselves that which is the work of God.
  8. Some sinners flatter themselves that they are already converted. They sit down and rest in a false hope, persuading themselves that all their sins are pardoned; that God loves them; that they shall go to heaven when they die; and that they need trouble themselves no more. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Revelation 3:17 . Condensed from Jonathan Edwards.

Verse 2. In his own eyes. He had not God before his eyes in holy awe, therefore he puts himself there in unholy admiration. He who makes little of God makes much of himself. They who forget adoration fall into adulation. The eyes must see something, and if they admire not God, they will flatter self. C. H. S.

Verse 2. Until his iniquity be found to be hateful; that is, until he finds by experience that it is a more dreadful thing to sin against God, and break his holy commands, than he imagined. Jonathan Edwards.

Verse 2. Hateful. Odious to himself, others, and to God. Gilbert Genebrard, 1537-1597.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. The arts, motives, assistances, results, and punishments of self flattery, and the discovery which concludes it.

Verse 2. Self flatteries. Jonathan Edwards' Sermon.

Verse 2. On the deceitfulness of the heart, with regard to the commission of sin. Two Sermons, in Jamieson's "Sermons on the Heart."