Psalm 36:2
For he flatters himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.
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(2) For he flattereth . . .—Literally, For he (or, it) makes smooth to him in his eyes to find out his evil to hate. (See margin.) A sentence of great difficulty. We must seek for the key to the interpretation of these words in the balance of the two phrases, “before his eyes,” “in his own eyes,” and must take the two verses together. They form, in fact, an example of introverted parallelism. (See Gen. Introduction.)

Sin is the wicked man’s oracle in his heart;

No fear of God is before his eyes;

He makes all smooth to himself in his eyes.

As to the discovery of his guilt that is his hate;


The discovery of his guilt is the only thing he hates.

This reading takes the two infinitives as subject and complement with the copula understood. It would be strange if Hebrew, which, above all languages, makes the infinitive do duty in various ways, offered no instance of such a use. (For matsa aven in the sense of the discovery of guilt, comp. Genesis 44:16; Hosea 12:8, etc.)

36:1-4 From this psalm our hearts should be duly affected with hatred of sin, and seek satisfaction in God's loving-kindness. Here is the root of bitterness, from which all the wickedness of wicked men comes. It takes rise from contempt of God, and the want of due regard to him. Also from the deceit they put upon their own souls. Let us daily beg of God to preserve us from self-flattery. Sin is very hurtful to the sinner himself, and therefore ought to be hateful; but it is not so. It is no marvel, if those that deceive themselves, seek to deceive all mankind; to whom will they be true, who are false to their own souls? It is bad to do mischief, but worse to devise it, to do it with plot and management. If we willingly banish holy meditations in our solitary hours, Satan will soon occupy our minds with sinful imaginations. Hardened sinners stand to what they have done, as though they could justify it before God himself.For he flattereth himself in his own eyes - He puts such an exalted estimate on himself; he so overrates himself and his own ability in judging of what is right and proper, that he is allowed to pursue a course which ultimately makes his conduct odious to all people: the result is so apparent, and so abominable, that no one can doubt what he himself is. The foundation or the basis of all this is an overweening confidence "in himself" - in his own importance; in his own judgment; in his own ability to direct his course regardless of God. The result is such a development of character, that it cannot but be regarded as hateful or odious. There is, indeed, considerable obscurity in the original. A literal translation would be, "For he has made smooth to him in his eyes to find his iniquity to hate." The ancient interpretations throw no light on the passage. The word rendered "flattereth" - חלק châlaq - means to be smooth; then, to be smooth in the sense of being bland or flattering: Hosea 10:2; Psalm 5:9; Proverbs 28:23; Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 7:5. Here the meaning is, that he commends himself to himself; he overestimates himself; he ascribes to himself qualities which he does not possess - either:

(a) by supposing that what he does must be right and proper, or

(b) by overestimating his strength of virtue, and his power to resist temptation.

He does this until God suffers him so to act out his own nature, and to show what he is, that his course of life is seen by himself and by others to be odious.

In his own eyes - As if his eyes were looking upon himself, or his own conduct. We act so as to be seen by others; thus he is represented as acting as if he himself were looking on, and sought to commend himself to himself.

Until his iniquity be found to be hateful - Margin, as in Hebrew: "to find his iniquity to hate." Prof. Alexander renders this, "As to (God's) finding his iniquity (and) hating (it);" that is (as he supposes the meaning to be), that he flatters himself that God will not find out his iniquity and hate it, or punish it. DeWette renders it, "that he does not find and hate his guilt;" that is, he so flatters himself in what he does, that he does not see the guilt of what he is doing, and hate it. He is blind to the real nature of what he is doing. But it seems to me that the true construction is that which is given by our translators. The real difficulty rests on the interpretation of the preposition in the word למצא limetsâ' - "until he find." If the interpretation proposed by DeWette were the true one, the preposition should have been the Hebrew letter מ (m) instead of the Hebrew letter ל (l) - ממצא mimetsâ' instead of למצא limetsâ'). The preposition used here often has the sense of "even unto, until." Compare Ezekiel 39:19; Isaiah 7:15; and this idea seems best to comport with the connection. The idea, according to this, is that he overestimates himself; he prides himself on his own strength and goodness, he confides in his own wisdom and power, he pursues his course of conduct trusting in himself, until he is suffered to act out what is really in his heart - and his conduct becomes hateful and abominable - until he can no longer conceal what he really is. God suffers him to act out what he had endeavored to cover over by his own flattery. Men who pride themselves on their own cunning and strength - men who attempt to conceal their plans from the world - are often thus suffered to develop their character so that the mask is taken off, and the world is allowed to see how vile they are at heart.

2-4. This reflection detailed.

until his iniquity—literally, "for finding his iniquity for hating"; that is, he persuades himself God will not so find it—"for hating" involving the idea of punishing. Hence his words of iniquity and deceit, and his bold rejection of all right principles of conduct. The climax is that he deliberately adopts and patronizes evil. The negative forms affirm more emphatically their contraries.

For; so this is the proof of that assertion, Psalm 36:1. Or, although; and so it is an anticipation of an objection against it.

He flattereth himself in his own eyes; he deceiveth himself with vain and false persuasions, either,

1. Concerning God, that he doth not see or mind his sins, or that he will not punish them. Or,

2. Concerning himself and his sins; either that they are not sins, which a mind bribed by passion and interest can easily believe; or that they are but small and venial sins; or that they will be excused, if not justified by honest intentions, or by outward professions and exercises of religion, or by some good actions, wherewith he thinks to make some compensation for them, or some other way. Otherwise thus, he flattereth him (i.e. God) in his eyes, i.e. openly and publicly makes a show of religion, as if he designed to deceive or mock God, whilst inwardly and secretly he is projecting wickedness. But it seems better to understand the last word reciprocally of his own eyes, as the same word is used in the end of the foregoing verse.

Until his iniquity be found to be hateful, i.e. until God by some dreadful judgment undeceive him, and find, i.e. discover or make him and others to find and feel by experience, that it is a sin, and a very hateful one too. Or, until his abominable iniquity be found out, i.e. punished, as the same word and phrase is used, Numbers 32:23, Your sin shall find you out, i.e. bring you to condign punishment. In the Hebrew it is, to find out his iniquity to hate. But active verbs are oft taken passively, of which there are plain instances, Joshua 2:5 Esther 6:6 Psalm 32:9 51:6, compared with Romans 3:4 Psalm 119:4; and so here, to find, is put for to be found; and to hate, for to be hated, or to be hateful. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes,.... There are many self-flatterers; some on account of their worldly estate, that they are out of the reach of God and men, and regard neither; and that as they have much goods laid up, they shall enjoy them many years, and so never think of dying, nor of another world: others on account of their eternal state, pleasing themselves with their own purity, goodness, and righteousness: some flatter themselves either that their sins are not sins, or they are small ones; or they are no other than what multitudes commit; or they are not seen and known, and that God himself sees them not, or takes no notice of them; and that they shall go on with impunity, sentence against them being not speedily executed; and others that there is no God, will be no judgment, nor future state;

until his iniquity be found to be hateful, or, "to find his iniquity and to hate" (c) that which is good, as the word may be rendered; that is, he flatters himself, or speaks smooth things to himself, and endeavours to work himself up into the belief of the above things; that he may find, embrace, and indulge his lusts with a quiet conscience, and hate God, good men, and everything that is good; the Targum is,

"that he may find sins and hate doctrine''

or instruction. Jarchi and Aben Ezra interpret the words another way,

"that the holy and blessed God may find out his iniquity to hate him;''

see Genesis 44:16, which God may be said to do, when he charges the guilt of sin upon the conscience, and punishes for it; and exposes both the sinner and his sins to the world; thereby testifying his hatred of him and his sins; and which should have been hateful to him, as they are to all good men.

(c) So. Pagninus.

For he {b} flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

(b) Though all others detest his vile sin, yet he himself sees it not.

2. A much disputed verse. Three renderings of the first line deserve consideration. (1) Taking the wicked man as the subject, we may render as the A.V. (2) Taking Transgression as the subject, we may render, For It flattereth him in his eyes. (3) Taking God as the subject, we may render, For He flattereth him in his eyes.

The third rendering, whether it is explained to mean, ‘God treats him gently, so he imagines,’ (Cheyne) or, ‘God’s threatenings seem to him mere idle words,’ can hardly be supported by the usage of the word. The first agrees best with the reading my heart in Psalm 36:1, giving the ground of the Psalmist’s conviction expressed there. But if the better reading, his heart, is adopted, the second rendering gives the best connexion. It explains how Transgression goes to work. It ‘speaks smooth things and prophesies deceits’ to him, concerning the finding out of his iniquity and hating it, i.e. as R.V.,

That his iniquity shall not be found out and be hated:

dragged to light in order to be punished, and exposed in its true hatefulness. The word find out is frequently used of detection with a view to punishment. See Psalm 17:3 : 1 Kings 1:52.Verse 2. - For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. Another very obscure verse, explained in various ways. The rendering of Professor Alexander is to be preferred, "For he fiattereth himself in his own eyes, as to God's finding his sin and hating it;" i.e. he flatters himself that he will conceal his sin from God, so that God will not discover it to hate it (see also the comment of Dr. Kay, and the Revised Version) The poet takes up this malignant "now our eye sees it" and gives another turn to it. With יהוה, alternates in Psalm 35:22, Psalm 35:23, cf. Psalm 35:17, אדני, the pronominal force of which is revived in the combination אלחי ואדני (vid., Psalm 16:2). חעיר, carrying its object within itself, signifies to stir, rouse up, and הקיץ, to break off, tear one's self away, gather one's self up from, sleep. "To my right," viz., to prove it by facts; "to my cause," to carry it on in my defence.
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