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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 36

Verse 1

Psalms 36:0.

The grievous estate of the wicked. The excellency of God's mercy. David prayeth for favour to God's children.

To the chief musician. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord.

Title. למנצח lamnatseach This Psalm is supposed to have been written by David at the beginning of Saul's persecution; whilst he outwardly professed kindness towards him, but yet he could not help discovering that he desired and intended his ruin. David here opposes the faithfulness and goodness of God, to the malice and treachery of Saul; though without mentioning him by name: and, as Theodoret well observes, David's delicacy in this respect is very remarkable; for, although the chief of his most bitter complaints were levelled against Saul, yet throughout his Psalms, he never once mentions him by name. This Psalm, Mudge observes, has three states: the first, in which the author describes the treacherous and false contrivances of wicked men; the second is the address of the good man to God; in which he acknowledges all those attributes, that are the support of righteous men, to be infinite and boundless; and from thence draws his assurance of being supported. The last, as the consequence of this, represents the downfall of the wicked.

Psalms 36:1. The transgression of the wicked saith, &c.— The wicked man hath an oracle of rebellion within his heart. "The wicked man has no regard to the oracles of God: he has one of his own heart, which dictates nothing but rebellion." Mudge.

Verse 2

Psalms 36:2. For he flattereth, &c.— Though he smootheth it over to himself in his own eyes, his iniquity must be found out, and issue in hatred. Mudge.

Verse 5

Psalms 36:5. Thy mercy, O Lord, &c.— As much as to say, "This is my comfort still, that thy loving-kindness and faithfulness are infinitely greater than the hatred and falsehood of Saul."

Verse 6

Psalms 36:6. Thou preservest man and beast This seems at first sight to come in somewhat abruptly; but the Psalmist's meaning, was to express his sure dependence upon God, whose providence, as it extended over the beasts of the earth, would therefore much more certainly take care of him.

Verses 7-9

Psalms 36:7-9. How excellent, &c.— The expressions here, which denote the abundance of divine blessings upon the righteous man, seem to be taken from the temple, from whence they were to issue. Under the covert of the temple, the wings of the cherubim, he was to be sheltered. The richness of the sacrifices, the streams of oil, wine, odours, &c. and the light of the golden candlestick, are all plainly referred to. As to the fountain of life, Psa 36:9 possibly there might be a living spring within the precincts of the temple, from whence the brazen sea, &c. might be supplied. See Psa 36:9 and Mudge; who reads the beginning of the 9th verse thus, In thy temple is the fountain of life. Others suppose that, with thee is the fountain of life, mean, "Thou art the source not only of our temporal, but also of our spiritual and of our eternal life."

Verse 11

Psalms 36:11. Let not the foot of pride come against me Let me not be trampled under the foot of pride, nor shaken in pieces by the arm of violence. There seems to be a particular beauty in this expression, by which David elegantly intimates the supercilious haughtiness and disdainful insolence of his enemy; who, if he had him in his power, would spurn him under foot, and trample on him.

Verse 12

Psalms 36:12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen The original word שׁם sham, represents strongly before the eyes the sudden downfall of the wicked: "Upon the very spot where they practise their treachery, they receive their downfall." This is the proper force of שׁם sham, as אז az, denotes the very instant.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The highest title of the greatest monarch, or the wisest man, is, to be called the servant of the Lord; in this David glories, as his most distinguished honour. We find him here describing the wickedness of the wicked in its true colours, beginning with the root of bitterness within, and proceeding to the hateful fruits without.

1. The fear of God is banished from his eyes; this the transgression of the wicked saith within my heart. David, by observing and marking his conduct, could not but be so convinced; for they who daringly and avowedly continue in the breach of God's laws, must needs be destitute of his fear. Note; It is no charity to deny the evidence of our senses, and to hope well of those who live in open sin.

2. He cries, Peace, peace, to his soul, he flattereth himself in his own eyes, either that God regardeth it not, or will wink at what he calls the little escapes and infirmities of human nature; that his judgments will not be so severe as his word seems to say; that death is at a distance; that if he must repent, it is time enough yet; and that, at least, he shall do as well as thousands of others, whom God will not be so hard as, for a little sin here, to destroy eternally.

2nd, The world affords a dark prospect to the child of God; he must look above him, not around him, if he would be comforted; and there a blessed scene presents itself in that glorious God, who is the joy of his people, and the portion of their inheritance.
1. He contemplates the bright perfections of the ever-blessed God: Thy mercy is in the heavens, laid up for thy faithful people, notwithstanding all the devices of the wicked against them; and as this is now their protection, shortly they will be brought to these heavens, eternally to enjoy it. To this it is owing also, that sinners are so long borne with. God is merciful, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds: though men are false, God is faithful; and his believing people may confidently trust him to fulfil all his promises; nor need think it long that sinners are borne with; his threatenings will be accomplished in their season. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains, those decisions against the impenitent, which are fixed and immoveable. Thy judgments are a great deep, unfathomable often by the shallow line of human understanding, but always directed with infinite wisdom and unimpeachable equity.

2. He meditates with delight on his dispensations of providence and grace towards his people, in all which his excellent loving-kindness appears. In general, all creatures partake of his providential care: not only man, the lord of the creation, but every beast is fed by his bounty, and preserved by his providence; while with especial regard he manifests his loving-kindness to those who put their trust under the shadow of his wings, and fills their hearts with wonder, gratitude, and love. With liberal hand their wants are all supplied; with the fatness of his house they are satisfied: an all-sufficient God is an all-sufficient portion. Of earthly blessings they shall have enough, while sweet content makes every meal a feast: with spiritual communications they shall be abundantly replenished; enjoying, in holy ordinances here below, divine fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ; and daily looking for the perfection of happiness in the full, uninterrupted, and eternal enjoyment of God's presence and love in his temple of glory above. Even in this vale of tears, thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures; those pure joys, which they who thirst after righteousness taste, when coming to Jesus to drink; they receive out of his fulness the abundance of pardon, grace, and consolations, the foretastes of those eternal pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. For with thee is the fountain of life; thou art the living fountain; thy breath first animated the lifeless clay; but better far, quickened by thy free spirit, our souls, dead in trespasses and sins, first felt new powers infused, and truly began to live. With living streams fed from the sacred fountain, we are enabled daily to increase with the increase of God, and shortly we expect to drink at the fountain-head, and live eternally glorious and happy, like the author of our blessed immortality. In thy light shall we see light; without thee all is darkness; no sun to shine, no eye to see; but when thou, the sun of righteousness, dost arise, then straight our sightless eye-balls meet the welcome day. Before us lies the path of life and glory, and distant realms of everlasting light terminate the prospect. Thither our willing feet are hasting; and, yet a moment, they shall arrive at that bright world, where, face to face, we shall behold the beatific and transforming vision, and in the contemplation of God's transcendent excellencies, be unutterably and eternally happy.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 36". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.