Provocative Devotion: Psalm 36

When considering the character traits of God, what we call His attributes, people most often will speak of God as love. It is a commonly agreed to characteristic of God even among those who are uncertain if God even exists, because if He does exist we are certainly want Him to be loving. Yet, like any widely held idea, the familiarity of the concept of God being loving can become so familiar and such a cliché that we risk missing the stunning power of that statement. Psalm 36 is a welcomed antidote to that problem. The description of God’s love in this Psalm is powerful and all encompassing.

The author of the Psalm speaks of the steadfast nature of God’s love. Unlike our human concept and experience of love which is fleeting, coming and going in a capricious way, God’s love remains firm and solid. To be steadfast is to be unmovable. God’s love for you is not subject to the whims of human emotion. It does not depend on His mood at the moment. God’s love remains for you because it is the very nature of God to love His own. His love is a place where you can take refuge, find shelter, be protected. That is what love does. It makes you feel secure. It becomes a rock on which to stand. God’s love is like that.

But when you read this Psalm take note of the fact that it does not start with God’s love. It starts rather with the life of the wicked. It starts with those who have no fear or reverence for God. It starts with those who practice deceit and treachery and think they are immune to justice. Then without any type of transition or explanation the author immediately bursts forth with praises to God for His steadfast love. I wonder, does the author see himself as that wicked person who one day discovered the steadfast love of the Lord? How many people, myself included, were far from God, with no fear of God, plotting trouble from our very beds before even letting our feet hit the floor in the morning? But even for one such as that, the love of the Lord can bring redemption and healing. The Lord if good and His love endures forever. If not for that love we would all be doomed to our own destruction. Praise the Name of the Lord!

Transgression speaks to the wicked
    deep in his heart;[a]
there is no fear of God
    before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
    that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
    he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
    he sets himself in a way that is not good;
    he does not reject evil.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
    and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
    they are thrust down, unable to rise.

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