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Psalm 36 by Alexander Maclaren

Psalm 36 by Alexander Maclaren

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
PSALM XXXVI.

1 The wicked has an Oracle of Transgression within his heart
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
PSALM XXXVI.

1 The wicked has an Oracle of Transgression within his heart
There is no fear of God before his eyes.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 20, 2013
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PSALM 36 BY ALEXADER MACLAREPSALM XXXVI.1 The wicked has an Oracle of Transgression within his heart jThere is no fear of God before his eyes.2 For it speaks smooth things to him in his imagination (eyes)As to finding out his iniquity, as to hating [it].3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit ;He has ceased being wise, doing good.4 He plots mischief upon his bed ;He sets himself firmly in a way [that is] not good ;Evil he loathes not.5 Jehovah, Thy loving-kindness is in the heavens,Thy faithfulness is unto the clouds.6 Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God,Thy judgments a mighty deep ;Man and beast preservest Thou, Jehovah.7 How precious is Thy loving-kindness, Jehovah, O God !And the sons of men in the shadow of Thy wings take refuge8 They are satisfied from the fatness of Thy house,And [of] the river of Thy delights Thou givest them to drink.9 For with Thee is the fountain of life ;In Thy light do we see light.10 Continue Thy loving-kindness to those who know Thee,And Thy righteousness to the upright in heart.1 1 Let not the foot of pride come against me,
 
And the hand of the wicked — let it not drive me forth.12 There the workers of iniquity are fallen ;They are struck down, and are not able to rise.THE supposition that the sombre picture of " thewicked " in w. 1-4 was originally unconnectedwith the glorious hymn in w. 5-9 fails to give weightto the difference between the sober pace of pedestrian344xxxvi.] THE PSALMS. 34$prose and the swift flight of winged poetry. It failsalso in apprehending the instinctive turning of a devoutmeditative spectator from the darkness of earth and itssins to the light above. The one refuge from the sadvision of evil here is in the faith that God is above itall, and that His name is Mercy. or can the blacknessof the one picture be anywhere so plainly seen as whenit is set in front of the brightness of the other. Areligious man, who has laid to heart the miserable sightsof which earth is full, will scarcely think that thepsalmist's quick averting of his eyes from these tosteep them in the light of God is unnatural, or that theoriginal connection of the two parts of this psalm isan artificial supposition. Besides thi«*, the closingsection of prayer is tinged with references to the firstpart, and derives its raison d'etre from it The threeparts form an organic whole.The gnarled obscurity of the language in which the"wicked" is described corresponds to the theme, andcontrasts strikingly with the limpid flow of the secondpart. " The line, too, labours " as it tries to tell thedark thoughts that move to dark deeds. Vv. 1, 2,
 
unveil the secret beliefs of the sinner, w. 3, 4, hisconsequent acts. As the text stands, it needs muchtorturing to get a tolerable meaning out of ver. 1, andthe slight alteration, found in the LXX. and in someold versions, of "his heart" instead of "my heart"smooths the difficulty. We have then a bold personifi-cation of " Transgression " as speaking in the secretheart of the wicked, as in some dark cave, such asheathen oracle-mongers haunted. There is bitter ironyin using the sacred word which stamped the prophets'utterances, and which we may translate " oracle," forthe godless lies muttered in the sinner's heart. This346 THE PSALMS.is the account of how men come to do evil : that thereis a voice within whispering falsehood. And the reasonwhy that bitter voice has the shrine to itself is that"there is no fear of God before" the man's "eyes."The two clauses of ver. i are simply set side by side,leaving the reader to spell out their logical relation.Possibly the absence of the fear of God may be re-garded as both the occasion and the result of the oracleof Transgression, since, in fact, it is both. Still moreobscure is ver. 2. Who is the " flatterer " ? Theanswers are conflicting. The " wicked," say some, butif so, " in his own eyes " is superfluous ; " God," sayothers, but that requires a doubtful meaning for"flatters" — namely, "treats gently" — and is open tothe same objection as the preceding in regard to "inhis own eyes." The most natural supposition is that" transgression," which was represented in ver. I asspeaking, is here also meant. Clearly the person inwhose eyes the flattery is real is the wicked, and there-fore its speaker must be another. "Sin beguiled me,"says Paul, and therein echoes this psalmist. Trans-

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