“Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise.” Psalm 36
The psalmist is no idealist but a realist. He knows the truth about evil and deceit, and he knows his God. He understands the depravity of one who worships self and fears not God, and the link between blind self-flattery and cruel action. As he sees that deep and hidden the sin of the wicked, God’s judgments are deeper still, and His goodness immeasurably higher. His eyes pierce the most deceived impression, His love and faithfulness reach the deepest sin and lift their bearer unto the merciful heights of salvation.
Evil makes for hideous barrenness, while children of God delight in divine abundance in the fountain of life. Evildoers are thrust down, the righteous are upright of heart. Where there is no fear of God, wickedness and trouble mingle as thankless companions, but children of God have safe refuge in His love. The contrast is stark, and carries warning: guard against the enticements and deceit of pride and the world’s favors. How so? Seize the offer of great comfort: remain in the Light for sight of God’s good way. (John 8:12)
Do we perceive evil as just a paltry idea with horns that has no bearing on us, or the insidious, forceful reality it is? How appropriately, and deeply, do we fear God in His holiness, perfection, jealousy for His own, and wrath against sin? (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Isaiah 42:8)
“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish but naught changeth thee.” ~Walter C. Smith (1867)
Lord, help me daily discern the contrasts before me, and always choose to fear, love, obey, and worship You.