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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 36

Verses 1-12

Psalms 36:1-12.

V. 1. David was as much convinced by the conduct of wicked men, that they were not habitually possessed by the fear of God, as if it had been immediately spoken to his heart : and his knowledge of the deceitfulness and evil of his own heart aided him in discovering the source of other men’s wickedness. If the terrors of God for a moment affrighted them, they soon cast them behind their backs, or they could not have gone on in their daring crimes. (Notes, Psalms 112:1-7. Nehemiah 5:14-18. Proverbs 16:6. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14. Romans 3:9-18.) It is probable, that Saul was especially meant, as the wicked man who persecuted " David, the servant of the LORD," with persevering enmity: yet he frequently cloked his malice with professions of friendship, and still kept up an outward regard to religion. The psalm seems to have been written, soon after Saul began to shew his hatred to David.

V. 2. The wicked man not only disguises his crimes or intentions from others ; but, through the excess of self-love, he becomes his own flatterer, calls his vices by soft names, or mistakes them for virtues ; and deems his conduct justifiable, perhaps meritorious, when in fact it is a hateful compound of impiety, injustice, and malevolence, and will very soon be proved to be so. Thus Saul’s selflattery kept him from being aware of the malignity of his conduct, till he became odious in the open view of mankind. (Notes, 1 Samuel 15:13-28; 1 Samuel 22:6-19. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.)

V. 3, 4. Saul, in the beginning of his reign, behaved wisely, and performed good services to his people : but he soon began to act foolishly, and to disobey God ; and at length he entirely ceased to use his understanding to do good. (Notes, 1 Samuel 11:1-15; 1 Samuel 28:3-10.) He became a treacherous and cruel persecutor of David : and while he perhaps ascribed his conduct in throwing his javelin at him, to a sudden paroxysm of disease ; David was aware that he most deliberately, and in his retired hours, plotted his destruction ; and had no aversion in his heart to any wickedness, however abominable, though he tried to clokc his malice by plausible professions. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 5- 9. The Psalmist here contrasted the divine perfections and government, with the conduct of wicked men, especially when in power. The mercy of God is immensely large ; and, having filled the earth with its effects, it fills the heavens also, by the admission of redeemed sinners to that blessed state. His faithfulness reaches unto, and even far above, the clouds or skies, and is liable to no mutability or failure. His justice is placed on an immovable basis, and he never varies from it : yet his judgments, or decrees, are unfathoinably deep, to be adored, but not comprehended by us.

(Note, Psalms 57:7-11; Psalms 71:19; Psalms 77:19-20; Psalms 89:1-4. Psalms 92:4-5. Psalms 97:2. Psalms 100:5. Psalms 103:11-13. Psalms 145:1 to Psalms 7:17. Job 37:20-24. Romans 11:33-36.) The Creator’s care sustains, and " preserves," both man and beast ; and his immeasurable loving-kindness, in its varied exercises, encourages even the guilty and polluted sons of Adam to trust in his mercy, and to confide in his protection. (Marg. Ref. q. Note, Ruth 2:11-12.) In this refuge, and in his service, believers find abundant consolation, and drink " pleasures as from a river," flowing from the Fountain of life and felicity : and in the knowledge and favour of God, they see light and glory inexpressible. (Notes, Psalms 46:4. Revelation 7:13-17; Revelation 21:22-27; Revelation 22:1-5.) The word rendered pleasures, is the plural of Eden. ( In heaven alone the thirst of an immortal soul after happiness can be satisfied. There the streams of Eden will ’ flow again.’ Bp. Home.

V. 10, 11. David was conscious of integrity, and had been favoured with much experience of the Lord’s faithful and merciful care ; but his dangers and troubles were multiplied, and all who knew God and uprightly served him, were in a measure involved in his difficulties. (Note, 1 Chronicles 28:9.) He therefore prayed, that the favour shewn to him and them might be prolonged according to the faithful promises of God ; and that he would judge in righteousness, between his persecuted servants and their unrighteous persecutors : that so " the foot of pride might " not come against him, and the hand of the wicked might " not cast him down ; " but that he might be preserved from the scornful oppression, and iniquitous power, of every enemy. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 12. ’ Faith calleth things that are not, as though they were ; it carries us forward to the end of time ; it shews us the Lord sitting on the throne of judgment, the righteous caught up to meet him in the air ; the ’ world in flames under his feet ; and the empire of sin fallen, to rise no more.’ Bp. Home.


To be " the servant of the Lord " is the highest privilege and honour, to which we can aspire ; and those who are advanced to eminent stations in society should glory to fill them up, as serving God and his church in them. All the wickedness of men springs from contempt and forgetfulness of God : their actions speak more plainly than their words; and when they commit atrocious crimes without remorse, or habitually live in the practice of any sin, we may be sure, " that there is no fear of God before their eyes ; " and that they habitually despise his favour, and defy his wrath. But proud and ignorant men deceive them selves, and verily think their conduct excusable, when it is indeed most hateful : let us then daily beg of God to preserve us from self-flattery, and to bring us acquainted with our own character, that we may judge and condemn ourselves, arid not finally be condemned at his tribunal.

When such as have appeared to be religious leave oft" to behave wisely and to do good, they will soon be drawn into grosser crimes ; and the deceitful and corrupt language of their lips will betray the desperate wickedness of their hearts. If we willingly banish holy meditations, in our solitary hours, nay, if we do not encourage them, Satan will soon occupy our minds with polluting and mischievous imaginations : and if any yield frequently to sudden temptations, they will at length deliberately " devise mischief upon their beds." Whatever be a man’s outward conduct, if he do not " abhor evil," he is no true penitent : and if he do not set himself heartily to walk in the ways of godliness, he will soon return into the more direct road to temporal arid eternal destruction. The servants of God must expect much trouble from apostates and wicked men ; but they may comfort themselves by contemplating the perfections of their almighty Friend. His merciful promises engage to every believer the enjoyment of heavenly happiness ; his unfailing faithfulness guarantees the engagement ; his immoveable justice harmonizes with his truth and love ; and his most mysterious appointments are the result of his infinite wisdom and goodness. Whilst all his creatures share his bounty and protection ; his compassion and mercy, and the provisions of his redeeming love, are so immense, and of such inestimable value, that the chief of sinners may come to him, and receive pardon and peace, and put their trust under the shadow of his wings. Thither the alarmed and penitent flee for safety, perhaps imagining that they are thus renouncing all enjoyment in this present world : but they soon find, if decided and diligent, true happiness in the favour and service of God: the provisions of his house are rich and plenteous ; and the consolations of his Spirit, communicated through his ordinances, are an earnest of heavenly joys. This " river of the water of life proceedeth from the throne of God and of the Lamb ; " and they must be happy, who have access to " the Fountain of life."

(Notes, Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:1.) Indeed God is the Source of felicity ; but fallen man has forsaken him and is miserable. In Christ, however, this Fountain is accessible ; " wells of salvation " are opened for us by the gospel ; and sinners, returning to God according to it, see and enjoy light and felicity, in their Source and Perfection. (Note, Is. 12: 3. ) May we then know, and love, and uprightly serve the Lord ! Then shall we be interested in the prayers of all his people, and learn to love and pray for them : and his loving kindness will be continued to us through the intercession of our heavenly Advocate. Then shall no proud enemy, on earth or from hell, come against us to trample upon us, or to separate us from his love ; but we shall be established in felicity, when all the workers of iniquity are cast down to rise no more for ever.

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 36". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.