Psalm 36#sn Psalm 36. Though evil men plan to harm others, the psalmist is confident that the Lord is the just ruler of the earth who gives and sustains all life. He prays for divine blessing and protection and anticipates God’s judgment of the wicked.
For the music director; written by the Lord’s servant, David; an oracle.#tn In the Hebrew text the word נאם (“oracle”) appears at the beginning of the next verse (v. 2 in the Hebrew text because the superscription is considered v. 1). The resulting reading, “an oracle of rebellion for the wicked [is] in the midst of my heart” (cf. NIV) apparently means that the psalm, which foresees the downfall of the wicked, is a prophetic oracle about the rebellion of the wicked which emerges from the soul of the psalmist. One could translate, “Here is a poem written as I reflected on the rebellious character of evil men.” Another option, followed in the translation above, is to attach נאם (nÿ’um, “oracle”) with the superscription. For another example of a Davidic poem being labeled an “oracle,” see 2 Sam 23:1.
1 An evil man is rebellious to the core.#tn Heb “[the] rebellion of an evil man [is] in the midst of my heart.” The translation assumes a reading “in the midst of his heart” (i.e., “to the core”) instead of “in the midst of my heart,” a change which finds support in a a few medieval Hebrew mss, the Hebrew text of Origen’s Hexapla, and the Syriac.
He does not fear God,#tn Heb “there is no dread of God before his eyes.” The phrase “dread of God” refers here to a healthy respect for God which recognizes that he will punish evil behavior.
2 for he is too proud
to recognize and give up his sin.#tn Heb “for it causes to be smooth to him in his eyes to find his sin to hate.” The meaning of the Hebrew text is unclear. Perhaps the point is this: His rebellious attitude makes him reject any notion that God will hold him accountable. His attitude also prevents him from recognizing and repudiating his sinful ways.
3 The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful;
he does not care about doing what is wise and right.#tn Heb “he ceases to exhibit wisdom to do good.” The Hiphil forms are exhibitive, indicating the outward expression of an inner attitude.
4 He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed;
he is committed to a sinful lifestyle;#tn Heb “he takes a stand in a way [that is] not good.” The word “way” here refers metaphorically to behavior or life style.
he does not reject what is evil.#tn The three imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 highlight the characteristic behavior of the typical evildoer.
5 O Lord, your loyal love reaches to the sky;#tn Heb “[is] in the heavens.”
your faithfulness to the clouds.#sn The Lord’s loyal love/faithfulness is almost limitless. He is loyal and faithful to his creation and blesses mankind and the animal kingdom with physical life and sustenance (vv. 6-9).
6 Your justice is like the highest mountains,#tn Heb “mountains of God.” The divine name אֵל (’el, “God”) is here used in an idiomatic manner to indicate the superlative.
your fairness like the deepest sea;
you preserve#tn Or “deliver.” mankind and the animal kingdom.#sn God’s justice/fairness is firm and reliable like the highest mountains and as abundant as the water in the deepest sea. The psalmist uses a legal metaphor to describe God’s preservation of his creation. Like a just judge who vindicates the innocent, God protects his creation from destructive forces.
7 How precious#tn Or “valuable.” is your loyal love, O God!
The human race finds shelter under your wings.#tn Heb “and the sons of man in the shadow of your wings find shelter.” The preservation of physical life is in view, as the next verse makes clear.
8 They are filled with food from your house,
and you allow them to drink from the river of your delicacies.
9 For you are the one who gives
and sustains life.#tn Heb “for with you is the fountain of life, in your light we see light.” Water (note “fountain”) and light are here metaphors for life.
10 Extend#tn Heb “draw out to full length.” your loyal love to your faithful followers,#tn Heb “to those who know you.” The Hebrew verb יָדַע (yada’, “know”) is used here of those who “know” the Lord in the sense that they recognize his royal authority and obey his will (see Jer 22:16).
and vindicate#tn Heb “and your justice to.” The verb “extend” is understood by ellipsis in the second line (see the previous line). the morally upright!#tn Heb “the pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 11:2; 32:11; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).
11 Do not let arrogant men overtake me,
or let evil men make me homeless!#tn Heb “let not a foot of pride come to me, and let not the hand of the evil ones cause me to wander as a fugitive.”
12 I can see the evildoers! They have fallen!#tn Heb “there the workers of wickedness have fallen.” The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is used here for dramatic effect, as the psalmist envisions the evildoers lying fallen at a spot that is vivid in his imagination (BDB 1027 s.v.).
They have been knocked down and are unable to get up!#tn The psalmist uses perfect verbal forms in v. 12 to describe the demise of the wicked as if it has already taken place.