For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord.
1 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
4 Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!
So how did you sleep last night? Did you drift off quickly or was your mind still racing with the events of the day? Bad things can happen in our minds at night, can’t they? We can linger on the troubling moments of the day. Perhaps someone is annoying us. Perhaps something hurtful was said to us. It may just that you are contemplating the pandemic and all its implications for life now and into the future. Our thoughts can match the darkness of the night around us, as we dwell on the sin of others.
I’m struck by verse 4 of this Psalm, “Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course…” This Psalm knows me well. And it knows the real reason I’m lying awake thinking what I shouldn’t, plotting what I shouldn’t.
Verse 1 is the key. It’s quoted by Apostle Paul as he paints that vivid picture of our sinfulness in Romans 3:10-18, which other Psalms have already transported us to view. Paul’s first brushstroke came from Psalm 14:1, “There is no one righteous, not even one”. Another came from Psalm 10:7, “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” Paul’s final brushstroke comes from verse 1 above, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Fear of God is the key. Or lack of it. Here’s how the Psalm nails me: when I don’t fear God (verse 1), I elevate myself, ignoring my own sin (verse 2) so I dwell instead upon the sin of others and plot bad things (verse 3 and 4). But what if I did fear God? I’d be caught up in God’s love – as the Psalmist is from verse 5. I’d be transported to that great “fountain of life” (verse 9), the cross of Jesus. And light would flood my darkness. And humility would overcome my pride. And I’d only lie awake in wonder at the privilege of being able to forgive as I’ve been forgiven and to love as I’ve been loved.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 36? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: Do you relate to the feeling of lying awake thinking bad thoughts?
Hands: In our Grow Daily reflecting on the very first Psalm, we prayed: “Please help me to truly delight in Your Word, to meditate on it night and day”. How might this practice help change the thoughts we go to bed with, and those we rise with?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me to fear you, to remember you always, to love you always. Please take from me fear of the current difficult circumstances and help me to look to you my God, knowing you have all things in your hands. Please by your Spirit, grow me to be more of an expert in recognizing my own sin and less an expert in seeing it in others. Father, at the fountain of life, the cross of Jesus, please shower me with your love and forgiveness, that I might indeed shower it upon others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.