and of thy praise all the day long; for the many mercies, temporal and spiritual, he was every day favoured with.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 36
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. This title, which the psalmist takes to himself, regards him not only as a creature, every man being the servant of the Lord as such, of right, though not in fact; but as a king, he being a minister of God for good to good men, and for evil to evil men; and also may respect him as a renewed man; and it is here used in opposition to and distinction from the wicked, who are the servants of sin and Satan, of whom he speaks in this psalm. The Syriac and Arabic versions in their titles suggest that this psalm was written when David was persecuted by Saul, and which is the sense of some interpreters; but R. Obadiah thinks Ahithophel is designed by the wicked man in it; and so it was penned on account of Absalom's rebellion.
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.
until his iniquity be found to be hateful, or, "to find his iniquity and to hate" (c) that which is good, as the word may be rendered; that is, he flatters himself, or speaks smooth things to himself, and endeavours to work himself up into the belief of the above things; that he may find, embrace, and indulge his lusts with a quiet conscience, and hate God, good men, and everything that is good; the Targum is,
"that he may find sins and hate doctrine''
or instruction. Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret the words another way,
"that the holy and blessed God may find out his iniquity to hate him;''
see Genesis 44:16, which God may be said to do, when he charges the guilt of sin upon the conscience, and punishes for it; and exposes both the sinner and his sins to the world; thereby testifying his hatred of him and his sins; and which should have been hateful to him, as they are to all good men.
(c) So. Pagninus.
he hath left off to be wise, and to do good; by which the psalmist seems to intend one that had been a professor of religion, who, besides the light of nature he had acted contrary to, had had the advantage of a divine revelation, and had been enlightened into the knowledge of divine things, and had done many things externally good, particularly acts of beneficence; but now had dropped his profession of religion, denied the truths he had been enlightened into, and ceased from doing good; otherwise a natural man understandeth not; and, though he is wise to do evil, to do good he has no knowledge.
he setteth himself in a way that is not good, in an evil way, which he chooses and delights in, and determines to continue in, he leaving the paths of righteousness to walk in the ways of darkness:
he abhorreth not evil; which is to be abhorred both because of its nature and effects; see Romans 12:9; but on the contrary he loves it, takes pleasure in doing it, and in them that commit it: thus, by his thoughts, words, and actions, he appears to be devoid of the fear of God.
and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds; which lies in the execution of his purposes, whose counsels of old were faithfulness and truth; and in keeping his covenant and promises; he never changes his mind, nor forgets his word; he is a God of truth, and cannot lie; he knows the end from the beginning; no unforeseen event can turn up to hinder the performance of what he has purposed and promised, and he is able to perform; nor does ever any of the good things he has spoken of fail: though his faithfulness sometimes seems to be not only to the clouds, but in them, and out of sight; providences seem to clash with promises, which make unbelief to say, doth his promise fail for evermore? yet, though we believe not, he abides faithful, Psalm 77:8, 2 Timothy 2:13.
(d) "usque ad coelos", Pagninus, Musculus, Muis, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Kimchi & Noldius, p. 164. No. 744. & Ainsworth.
thy judgments are a great deep; both in a way of providence, many of them being at present not to be traced, though before long they will be made manifest; and in a way of grace, such as the choice of some, and the leaving of others, the rejection of the Jews, and the call of the Gentiles; see Romans 11:33;
O Lord, thou preservest man and beast; in a providential way, upholding each in their being, and supplying them with the necessaries of life: some understand this figuratively, of God's saving Jews and Gentiles, wise and unwise, and particularly those who, through humility and modesty, as Jarchi says, compare themselves to beasts, because of their ignorance and stupidity, Proverbs 30:2.
(e) Ebr. Comment. p. 66.
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings; not all men; for all have not faith, only some, to whom it is given to believe, and who know the Lord and his lovingkindness; by which they are induced and encouraged to trust in him, to betake themselves to him for mercy and protection, which they find in him: the allusion is either to the hen that gathers her chickens under her wings, and protects them in time of danger, and so it expresses both the paternal affection of God to his people, and the protection of them; or else to the wings of the cherubim over the mercy seat, between which the Lord sat and communed with his people, and showed mercy and favour to them, which encouraged them to trust in him.
and thou shall make them drink of the river of thy pleasure; the love of God, whose streams make glad the city of God; or the fulness of grace, which is in Christ, out of which believers draw with joy, and drink with pleasure; or eternal glory and happiness, enjoyed in the presence of God, in which is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore; a never ceasing torrent of them.
in thy light shall we see light; God is light itself, the Father of lights, and the former of it in every sense; in the light of his countenance, and the discoveries of his love, they that trust in him see light, or enjoy comfort; and in the light of his Son Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness and light of the world, they see the face of God, and enjoy his favour, and behold the glory and excellency of Christ himself; and in the light of the divine Spirit, who is a spirit of wisdom and revelation, they see their sins exceeding sinful, their righteousness as nothing, and a preciousness in the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ; and in the light of the divine word they see the truths of the Gospel in their native simplicity and excellency, and the duties of religion to be performed by them; and in the light of faith, which is the gift of God, they have at least a glimpse of the unseen glories of the other world; and when the beatific vision shall take place, they shall see no more darkly through a glass, but face to face, even God himself, as he is in Christ.
(f) "vena vitarum", Montanus.
and thy righteousness unto the upright in heart; who are sincere and without guile; who have new hearts created and right spirits renewed in them, and have truth in the inward parts; and unto and upon such is the righteousness of Christ, and where it always continues, for it is an everlasting one; but here it means a clearer and constant revelation of it from faith to faith; unless it should rather intend the righteousness of God in protecting his people from the insults of their enemies, and the continual exertion of it for that purpose.
(g) "trahe", Pagninus, Montanus; "extende", Vatablus, Piscator; "protrahe", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and let not the hand of the wicked remove me; either from the house of God; or from his throne, that high station and dignity in which he was placed.