Psalm 36 – The Goodness of God on Display

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Good and evil are the two themes of this Psalm. It begins with a concise picture of wickedness and then pivots to a glorious picture of God’s most excellent character.

The Destructive Behavior of the Wicked

The wicked do just the opposite of Jesus’ command to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The wicked have no respect for God and devise harm for other people.

Sin speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts;
they reject God and do not have reverence for him.
Because they think so highly of themselves,
they think that God will not discover their sin and condemn it.
Their speech is wicked and full of lies;
they no longer do what is wise and good.
They make evil plans as they lie in bed;
nothing they do is good,
and they never reject anything evil.
(Psalm 36.1-4)

Notice how “sin speaks to the wicked deep in their heart” (verse 1). In their secret hearts they listen to the voice of rebellion. Their attention is fixed on self-will and not on giving God the respect he is due.

Their character is described as a high opinion of themselves and a low view of God. They think that God does not have the ability to discover their behavior. If he does catch them, they feel he will not condemn them.

A low view of God permits harmful behavior toward people. Dishonest speech characterizes their words and foolish actions are the nature of their behavior.

Just as they disregard God in their inner-self, their leisure time is spent in scheming evil. Their core character and behavior is nothing but evil. As such, they do great harm in the world.

God’s Character on Display

The four most common words that describe God’s amazing character are contrasted with the sad story of the wicked.

Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the skies.
Your righteousness is towering like the mountains;
your justice is like the depths of the sea.
People and animals are in your care.
(Psalm 36.5-6)

God’s constant love and faithfulness is so expansive that it exceeds the bounds of our immediate world.

The opening words of the Gospel of John say this about Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1.14).

The equivalent of “grace and truth” in the Old Testament are the words, “constant love and faithfulness.” Look at the life of Jesus and you know that this is the majestic character of the God we serve.

God’s other two grand character traits, righteousness and justice, are equally as expansive as the first two. No matter what comes our way from our loving heavenly Father, we can know that it is both right and just.

More of God

How precious, O God, is your constant love!
We find protection under the shadow of your wings.
We feast on the abundant food you provide;
you let us drink from the river of your goodness.
You are the source of all life,
and because of your light we see the light.
(Psalm 36.7-9)

The phrase “under the shadow of your wings,” is a way of talking about the Temple. To the people of God the Temple was a miniature world of the ideal world.

What took place in the Temple was ideally an ordered and obedient environment. God’s rule was present in the Temple and his holiness could be felt.

Images from this Psalm are highly visible in the life of Jesus.

The Water of Life“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4.14).

Abundant Food“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6.35).

Light“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8.12).

Prayer and Victory

God’s abundant goodness leads us to prayer.

Continue to love those who know you
and to do good to those who are righteous.
Do not let proud people attack me
or the wicked make me run away.
See where evil people have fallen.
There they lie, unable to rise.
(Psalm 26.10-12)

God’s magnificent character includes us. In his greatness, he allow us to know him and to live with him in a personal relationship. The essence of prayer is to take advantage of God’s offer that comes from his continuous love.

Those who have no thought of God and no care for people continue to populate the earth. They are a threat. Praise God that we can ask him for protection and count on his faithfulness.

May We Pray for You?

Please email me at or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and will ask the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church to pray for you too.

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