Psalms 36:1 MEANING

Psalm 36:1
(1) The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart . . .--The literal rendering of the present Hebrew text is, An utterance of sin to the wicked within my heart. The common phrase rendered in our version, "Thus saith Jehovah," is here imitated, "Thus saith sin." "To the wicked" cannot, as some explain, mean "concerning the wicked." The only possible meaning of the text as it stands is therefore, "Thus saith sin to (me) the wicked man in my heart." But there can be no question that the psalmist wrote "in his heart," since ail the ancient versions, with the exception of the Chaldee Paraphrase, followed this reading, and some MSS. still show it. This gives us a very fine sense. Sin is personified as the evil counsellor or prompter sitting in the heart of the wicked to suggest evil thoughts: Sin in the wicked man's heart is his oracle. Conscience is on the wrong side.

There is no fear . . .--This is not the suggestion of sin just mentioned, but an explanation of the condition into which the wicked man has sunk. Impiety and irreverence have so corrupted his nature, that sin has become his oracle.

Verse 1. - The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart. This is a difficult passage. In the first place, the text is uncertain, since some manuscripts have לבו, "his heart," in the place of לבי, "my heart." And further, whichever reading we prefer, the meaning is far from clear. Dr. Kay translates, "Transgression's oracle to the wicked is, 'In the interior of my own heart;'" and understands the meaning to be that the sinfulness of the wicked man deludes him into the belief that his wickedness is known to no one but himself - it is all safely locked up in the recesses of his own heart. Professor Alexander suggests as possible, "Thus saith depravity to the wicked man, 'In the midst of my heart, there is no fear of God before his (i.e. God's) eyes.'" Others, preferring לבו to לבי, render, "Transgression speaks to the wicked within his heart; There is no fear of God," etc.; regarding the two clauses as perfectly independent the one of the ether. This is, perhaps, the best explanation. There is no fear of God before his eyes. Either he belongs to the class of "fools, who say in their heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1), or he agrees with those who cry, "Tush, God hath forgotten: he hideth away his face; he will never see it" (Psalm 10:11).

36:1-4 From this psalm our hearts should be duly affected with hatred of sin, and seek satisfaction in God's loving-kindness. Here is the root of bitterness, from which all the wickedness of wicked men comes. It takes rise from contempt of God, and the want of due regard to him. Also from the deceit they put upon their own souls. Let us daily beg of God to preserve us from self-flattery. Sin is very hurtful to the sinner himself, and therefore ought to be hateful; but it is not so. It is no marvel, if those that deceive themselves, seek to deceive all mankind; to whom will they be true, who are false to their own souls? It is bad to do mischief, but worse to devise it, to do it with plot and management. If we willingly banish holy meditations in our solitary hours, Satan will soon occupy our minds with sinful imaginations. Hardened sinners stand to what they have done, as though they could justify it before God himself.The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart,.... Which is represented as a person speaking within him; not that the transgression of the wicked was really in him; sin was in him, and sin of the same kind and nature with the wicked man's; but he taking notice of and considering the wicked man's sinful course of life, and his daring impieties, conceived in his own mind, and concluded from hence,

that there is no fear of God before his eyes; no reverential affection for him, but enmity to him; no godly filial fear, but at most only a slavish fear, a fear of punishment; no holy and humble fear of him, but pride and wickedness; no fiducial and obediential fear, but all the reverse; true worship of him, either internally or externally: there can be no fear of God in any unregenerate man's, heart, because it is not of nature, but of grace, and is, what is implanted at first conversion; there is in some an appearance of it, where it is not really, whose fear is taught by the precept of men; and in others there may be some awe of the divine Being, and trembling at the thought of a future judgment, arising from the dictates of nature, the light of revelation, and the enjoyment of a religious education; but in some there is no fear of God at all, and they are bold and daring enough to assert it themselves, as the unjust judge did, Luke 18:4. Such as the atheist, the common swearer, the debauchee and epicure, who give up themselves to all manner of wickedness, contemn revelation, despise the word of God, and regard no day nor manner of worship; and this notwithstanding the majesty of God, at whose presence they tremble not, and notwithstanding the goodness of God, which should induce them to fear him, and notwithstanding the judgment of God on others, and even on themselves; see Jeremiah 3:8; and notwithstanding the future awful judgment, which they put far away or disbelieve. The Targum is, "transgression saith to the wicked within my heart"; and Jarchi's note upon the text is this,

"this text is to be transposed thus, it is in my heart, that transgression, which is the evil imagination, says to the wicked man, that there should be no fear of God before his eyes; and the phrase, "in the midst of my heart", is as if a man should say, so it seems to me.''

The Septuagint version, and those that follow it, render the words thus, "the transgressor said, that he might sin in himself, there is no fear of God before his eyes". Gussetius (b) interprets "before his eyes", before the eyes of God himself, who is so good a Being, that the sinner fears no punishment from him, but will pardon all his sins.

(b) Ebr. Comment. p. 488.

Courtesy of Open Bible