Psalm 36:8
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house; and you shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) They shall be abundantly satisfied.—Better, in order to preserve the parallelism, literally, They shall drink to the full. LXX. and Vulg., “They shall be intoxicated with,” &c

Fatness, therefore, is not here the fat of the sacrificial offerings, but the stream of grace flowing from above, to enrich men as the rain enriches the earth. (Comp. Psalm 65:11, where “fatness” means “fertilising showers”)

The house of God may either be the whole earth (Gesenius), or, more probably, heaven, just as the temple is used (Psalm 11:4; Psalm 18:6; Psalm 29:9). God’s loving-kindness is regarded as

“An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.”

KEATS: Endymion.

Psalms

WHAT MEN FIND BENEATH THE WINGS OF GOD

Psalm 36:8 - Psalm 36:9
.

In the preceding verses we saw a wonderful picture of the boundless perfections of God; His lovingkindness, faithfulness, righteousness, and of His twofold act, the depths of His judgments and the plainness of His merciful preservation of man and beast. In these verses we have an equally wonderful picture of the blessedness of the godly, the elements of which consist in four things: satisfaction, represented under the emblem of a feast; joy, represented under the imagery of full draughts from a flowing river of delight; life, pouring from God as a fountain; light, streaming from Him as source.

And this picture is connected with the previous one by a very simple link. Who are they who ‘shall be abundantly satisfied’? The men ‘who put their trust beneath the shadow of Thy wings.’ That is to say, the simple exercise of confidence in God is the channel through which all the fulness of divinity passes into and fills our emptiness.

Observe, too, that the whole of the blessings here promised are to be regarded as present and not future. ‘They shall be abundantly satisfied’ would be far more truly rendered in consonance with the Hebrew: ‘They are satisfied’; and so also we should read ‘Thou dost make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures; in Thy light do we see light.’ The Psalmist is not speaking of any future blessedness, to be realised in some far-off, indefinite day to come, but of what is possible even in this cloudy and sorrowful life. My text was true on the hills of Palestine, on the day when it was spoken; it may be true amongst the alleys of Manchester to-day. My purpose at this time is simply to deal with the four elements in which this blessedness consists-satisfaction, joy, life, light.

I. Satisfaction: ‘They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house.’

Now, I suppose, there is a double metaphor in that. There is an allusion, no doubt, to the festal meal of priests and worshippers in the Temple, on occasion of the peace-offering, and there is also the simpler metaphor of God as the Host at His table, at which we are guests. ‘Thy house’ may either be, in the narrower sense, the Temple; and then all life is represented as being a glad sacrificial meal in His presence, of which ‘the meek shall eat and be satisfied,’ or Thy ‘house’ may be taken in a more general sense; and then all life is represented as the gathering of children round the abundant board which their Father’s providence spreads for them, and as glad feasting in the ‘mansions’ of the Father’s house.

In either case the plain teaching of the text is, that by the might of a calm trust in God the whole mass of a man’s desires are filled and satisfied. What do we want to satisfy us? It is something almost awful to think of the multiplicity, and the variety, and the imperativeness of the raging desires which every human soul carries about within it. The heart is like a nest of callow fledglings, every one of them a great, wide open, gaping beak, that ever needs to have food put into it. Heart, mind, will, appetites, tastes, inclinations, weaknesses, bodily wants-the whole crowd of these are crying for their meat. The Book of Proverbs says there are three things that are never satisfied: the grave, the earth that is not filled with water, and the fire that never says, ‘It is enough.’ And we may add a fourth, the human heart, insatiable as the grave; thirsty as the sands, on which you may pour Niagara, and it will drink it all up and be ready for more; fierce as the fire that licks up everything within reach and still hungers.

So, though we be poor and weak creatures, we want much to make us restful. We want no less than that every appetite, desire, need, inclination shall be filled to the full; that all shall be filled to the full at once, and that by one thing; that all shall be filled to the full at once, by one thing that shall last for ever. Else we shall be like men whose store of provision gives out before they are half-way across the desert. And we need that all our desires shall be filled at once by one thing that is so much greater than ourselves that we shall grow up towards it, and towards it, and towards it, and yet never be able to exhaust or surpass it.

Where are you going to get that? There is only one answer, dear brethren! to the question, and that is-God, and God alone is the food of the heart; God, and God alone, will satisfy your need. Let us bring the full Christian truth to bear upon the illustration of these words. Who was it that said, ‘I am the Bread of Life. He that cometh unto Me shall never hunger’? Christ will feed my mind with truth if I will accept His revelation of Himself, of God, and of all things. Christ will feed my heart with love if I will open my heart for the entrance of His love. Christ will feed my will with blessed commands if I will submit myself to His sweet and gentle, and yet imperative, authority. Christ will satisfy all my longings and desires with His own great fulness. Other food palls upon man’s appetite, and we wish for change; and physiologists tell us that a less wholesome and nutritious diet, if varied, is better for a man’s health than a more nutritious one if uniform and monotonous. But in Christ there are all constituents that are needed for the building up of the human spirit, and so we never weary of Him if we only know His sweetness. After a world of hungry men have fed upon Him, He remains inexhaustible as at the beginning; like the bread in His own miracles, of which the pieces that were broken and ready to be given to the eaters were more than the original stock, as it appeared when the meal began, or like the fabled feast in the Norse Walhalla, to which the gods sit down to-day, and to-morrow it is all there on the board, as abundant and full as ever. So if we have Christ to live upon, we shall know no hunger; and ‘in the days of famine we shall be satisfied.’

O brethren! have you ever known what it is to feel that your hungry heart is at rest? Did you ever know what it is to say, ‘It is enough’? Have you anything that satisfies your appetite and makes you blessed? Surely, men’s eager haste to get more of the world’s dainties shows that there is no satisfaction at its table. Why will you ‘spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not,’ as Indians in famine eat clay which fills their stomachs, but neither stays hunger, nor ministers strength? Eat and your soul shall live.

II. Now, turn to the next of the elements of blessedness here-Joy. ‘Thou makest them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.’

There may be a possible reference here, couched in the word ‘pleasures,’ to the Garden of Eden, with the river that watered it parting into four heads; for ‘Eden’ is the singular of the word which is here translated ‘pleasures’ or ‘delight.’ If we take that reference, which is very questionable, there would be suggested the thought that amidst all the pain and weariness of this desert life of ours, though the gates of Paradise are shut against us, they who dwell beneath the shadow of the divine wing really have a paradise blooming around them; and have flowing ever by their side, with tinkling music, the paradisaical river of delights, in which they may bathe and swim, and of which they may drink. Certainly the joys of communion with God surpass any which unfallen Eden could have boasted.

But, at all events, the plain teaching of the text is that the simple act of trusting beneath the shadow of God’s wings brings to us an ever fresh and flowing river of gladness, of which we may drink. The whole conception of religion in the Bible is gladsome. There is no puritanical gloom about it. True, a Christian man has sources of sadness which other men have not. There is the consciousness of his own sin, and the contest that he has daily to wage; and all things take a soberer colouring to the eye that has been accustomed to look, however dimly, upon God. Many of the sources of earthly felicity are dammed up and shut off from us if we are living beneath the shadow of God’s wings. Life will seem to be sterner, and graver, and sadder than the lives ‘that ring with idiot laughter solely,’ and have no music because they have no melancholy in them. That cannot be helped. But what does it matter though two or three surface streams, which are little better than drains for sewage, be stopped up, if the ‘pure river of the water of life’ is turned into your hearts? Surely it will be a gain if the sadness which has joy for its very foundation is yours, instead of the laughter which is only a mocking mask for a death’s head, and of which it is true that even ‘in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness.’ Better to be ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,’ than to be glad on the surface, with a perpetual sorrow and unrest gnawing at the root of your life.

And if it be true that the whole Biblical conception of religion is of a glad thing, then, my brother! it is your duty, if you are a Christian man, to be glad, whatever temptations there may be in your way to be sorrowful. It is a hard lesson, and one which is not always insisted upon. We hear a great deal about other Christian duties. We do not hear so much as we ought about the Christian duty of gladness. It takes a very robust faith to say, ‘Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation,’ but unless we can say it, there is an attainment of Christian life yet unreached, to which we have to aspire.

But be that as it may, my point is simply this-that all real and profound possession of, and communion with, God in Christ will make us glad; glad with a gladness altogether unlike that of the world round about us, far deeper, far quieter, far nobler, the sister and the ally of all great things, of all pure life, of all generous and lofty thought. And where is it to be found? Only in fellowship with Him. ‘The river of Thy pleasures’ may mean something yet more solemn and wonderful than pleasures of which He is the Author. It may mean pleasures which He shares, the very delights of the divine nature itself. The more we come into fellowship with Him, the more shall we share in the very joy of God Himself. And what is His joy? He delights in mercy; He delights in self-communication: He is the blessed, the happy God, because He is the giving God. He delights in His love. He ‘rejoices over’ His penitent child ‘with singing,’ In that blessedness we may share; or if that be too high and mystical a thought, may we not remember who it was that said: ‘These things speak I unto you that My joy may remain in you’; and who it is that will one day say to the faithful servant: ‘Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’? Christ makes us drink of the river of His pleasures. The Shepherd and the sheep drink from the same stream, and the gladness which filled the heart of the Man of Sorrows, and lay deeper than all His sorrows, He imparts to all them that put their trust in Him.

So, dear brethren! what a blessing it is for us to have, as we may have, a source of joy, frozen by no winter, dried up by no summer, muddied and corrupted by no iridescent scum of putrefaction which ever mantles over the stagnant ponds of earthly joys! Like some citadel that has an unfailing well in its courtyard, we may have a fountain of gladness within ourselves which nothing that touches the outside can cut off. We have but to lap a hasty mouthful of earthly joys as we run, but we cannot drink too full draughts of this pure river of water which makes glad the city of God.

III. We have the third element of the blessedness of the godly represented under the metaphor of Life, pouring from the fountain, which is God. ‘With Thee is the fountain of life.’

The words are true in regard to the lowest meaning of ‘life’-physical existence-and they give a wonderful idea of the connection between God and all living creatures. The fountain rises, the spray on the summit catches the sunlight for a moment, and then falls into the basin, jet after jet springing up into the light, and in its turn recoiling into the darkness. The water in the fountain, the water in the spray, the water in the basin, are all one. Wherever there is life there is God. The creature is bound to the Creator by a mystic bond and tie of kinship, by the fact of life. The mystery of life knits all living things with God. It is a spark, wherever it burns, from the central flame. It is a drop, wherever it is found, from the great fountain. It is in man the breath of God’s nostrils. It is not a gift given by a Creator who dwells apart, having made living things, as a watchmaker might a watch, and then ‘seeing them go.’ But there is a deep mystic union between the God who has life in Himself and all the living creatures who draw their life from Him, which we cannot express better than by that image of our text, ‘With Thee is the fountain of life.’

But my text speaks about a blessing belonging to the men who put their trust under the shadow of God’s wing, and therefore it does not refer merely to physical existence, but to something higher than that, namely, to that life of the spirit in communion with God, which is the true and the proper sense of ‘life’; the one, namely, in which the word is almost always used in the Bible.

There is such a thing as death in life; living men may be ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ ‘dead in pleasure,’ dead in selfishness. The awful vision of Coleridge in the Ancient Mariner, of dead men standing up and pulling at the ropes, is only a picture of the realities of life; where, as on some Witches’ Sabbath, corpses move about and take part in the activities of this dead world. There are people full of energy in regard of worldly things, who yet are all dead to that higher region, the realities of which they have never seen, the actions of which they have never done, the emotions of which they have never felt. Am I speaking to such living corpses now? There are some of my audience alive to the world, alive to animalism, alive to lust, alive to passion, alive to earth, alive perhaps to thought, alive to duty, alive to conduct of a high and noble kind, but yet dead to God, and, therefore, dead to the highest and noblest of all realities. Answer for yourselves the question-do you belong to this class?

There is life for you in Jesus Christ, who ‘is the Life.’ Like the great aqueducts that stretch from the hills across the Roman Campagna, His Incarnation brings the waters of the fountain from the mountains of God into the lower levels of our nature, and the fetid alleys of our sins. The cool, sparkling treasure is carried near to every lip. If we drink, we live. If we will not, we die in our sins, and are dead whilst we live. Stop the fountain, and what becomes of the stream? It fades there between its banks, and is no more. You cannot even live the animal life except that life were joined to Him. If it could be broken away from God it would disappear as the clouds melt in the sky, and there would be nobody, and you would be nowhere. You cannot break yourself away from God physically so completely as to annihilate yourself. You can do so spiritually, and some of you do it, and the consequence is that you are dead, dead, DEAD! You can be made ‘alive from the dead,’ if you will lay hold on Jesus Christ, and get His life-giving Spirit into your hearts.

IV. Light. ‘In Thy light shall we see light.’

God is ‘the Father of lights.’ The sun and all the stars are only lights kindled by Him. It is the very crown of revelation that ‘God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.’ Light seems to the unscientific eye, which knows nothing about undulations of a luminiferous ether, to be the least material of material things. All joyous things come with it. It brings warmth and fruit, fulness and life. Purity, and gladness, and knowledge have been symbolised by it in all tongues. The Scripture uses light, and the sun, which is its source, as an emblem for God in His holiness, and blessedness, and omniscience. This great word here seems to point chiefly to light as knowledge.

This saying is true, as the former clause was, in relation to all the light which men have. ‘The inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding.’ The faculties by which men know, and all the exercise of those faculties, are His gift. It is in the measure in which God’s light comes to the eye that the eye beholds. ‘Light’ may mean not only the faculty, but the medium of vision. It is in the measure in which God’s light comes, and because His light comes, that all light of reason in human nature sees the truth which is its light. God is the Author of all true thoughts in all mankind. The spirit of man is a candle kindled by the Lord.

But as I said about life, so I say about light. The material or intellectual aspects of the word are not the main ones here. The reference is to the spiritual gift which belongs to the men ‘who put their trust beneath the shadow of Thy wings.’ In communion with Him who is the Light as well as the Life of men, we see a whole universe of glories, realities, and brightnesses. Where other eyes see only darkness, we behold ‘the King in His beauty, and the land that is very far off.’ Where other men see only cloudland and mists, our vision will pierce into the unseen, and there behold ‘the things which are,’ the only real things, of which all that the eye of sense sees are only the fleeting shadows, seen as in a dream, while these are the true, and the sight of them is sight indeed. They who see by the light of God, and see light therein, have a vision which is more than imagination, more than opinion, more than belief. It is certitude. Communication with God does not bring with it superior intellectual perspicuity, but it does bring a perception of spiritual realities and relations, which, in respect of clearness and certainty, may be called sight. Many of us walk in darkness, who, if we were but in communion with God, would see the lone hillside blazing with chariots and horses of fire. Many of us grope in perplexity, who, if we were but hiding under the shadow of God’s wings, would see the truth and walk at liberty in the light, which is knowledge and purity and joy.

In communication with God, we see light upon all the paths of duty. It is wonderful how, when a man lives near God, he gets to know what he ought to do. That great Light, which is Christ, is like the star that hung over the Magi, blazing in the heavens, and yet stooping to the lowly task of guiding three wayfaring men along a muddy road upon earth. So the highest Light of God comes down to be ‘a lantern for our paths and a light for our feet.’

And in the same communion with God, we get light in all seasons of darkness and of sorrow. ‘To the upright there ariseth light in the darkness’; and the darkest hours of earthly fortune will be like a Greenland summer night, when the sun scarcely dips below the horizon, and even when it is absent, all the heaven is aglow with a calm twilight.

All these great blessings belong to-day to those who take refuge under the shadow of His wings. But blessed as the present experience is, we have to look for the perfecting of it when we pass from the forecourt to the inner sanctuary, and in that higher house sit with Christ at His table and feast at ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ Here we drink from the river, but there we shall be carried up to the source. The life of God in the soul is here often feeble in its flow, ‘a fountain sealed’ and all but shut up in our hearts, but there it will pour through all our being, a fountain springing up into everlasting life. The darkness is scattered even here by beams of the true light, but here we are only in the morning twilight, and many clouds still fill the sky, and many a deep gorge lies in sunless shadow, but there the light shall be a broad universal blaze, and there shall be ‘nothing hid from the heat thereof.’

Now, dear brethren! the sum of the whole matter is, that all this fourfold blessing of satisfaction, joy, life, light, is given to you, if you will take Christ. He will feed you with the bread of God; He will give you His own joy to drink; He will be in you the life of your lives, and ‘the master-light of all your seeing.’ And if you will not have Him, you will starve, and your lips will be cracked with thirst; and you will live a life which is death, and you will sink at last into outer darkness.

Is that the fate which you are going to choose? Choose Christ, and He will give you satisfaction, and joy, and life, and light.36:5-12 Men may shut up their compassion, yet, with God we shall find mercy. This is great comfort to all believers, plainly to be seen, and not to be taken away. God does all wisely and well; but what he does we know not now, it is time enough to know hereafter. God's loving-kindness is precious to the saints. They put themselves under his protection, and then are safe and easy. Gracious souls, though still desiring more of God, never desire more than God. The gifts of Providence so far satisfy them, that they are content with such things as they have. The benefit of holy ordinances is sweet to a sanctified soul, and strengthening to the spiritual and Divine life. But full satisfaction is reserved for the future state. Their joys shall be constant. God not only works in them a gracious desire for these pleasures, but by his Spirit fills their souls with joy and peace in believing. He quickens whom he will; and whoever will, may come, and take from him of the waters of life freely. May we know, and love, and uprightly serve the Lord; then no proud enemy, on earth or from hell, shall separate us from his love. Faith calleth things that are not, as though they were. It carries us forward to the end of time; it shows us the Lord, on his throne of judgment; the empire of sin fallen to rise no more.They shall be abundantly satisfied - Margin, "watered." That is, all who thus put their trust in the mercy of God. The Hebrew word - רוה râvâh - means to drink to the full; to be satisfied, or sated with drink; or to be satisfied or filled with water, as the earth or fields after an abundant rain: Isaiah 34:7; Psalm 65:10. The state referred to by the word is that of one who was thirsty, but who has drunk to the full; who feels that his desire is satisfied:

(a) He has found that which is adapted to his wants, or which meets his needs, as water does the wants of one who is a thirst;

(b) He has found this "in abundance."

There is no lack, and he partakes of it in as large measure as he chooses. So the weary and thirsty traveler, when he finds in the desert a "new and untasted spring," finds that which he needs, and drinks freely; and so the sinner - the dying man - the man who feels that there is nothing in the world that can satisfy him:

(1) finds in the provisions of the gospel that which exactly meets the needs of his nature, and

(2) he finds it in abundance.

With the fatness - The word used here means properly "fatness" or "fat:" Judges 9:9. Then it means "fat food," or "sumptuous food," Job 36:16; Isaiah 55:2; Jeremiah 31:14. It is connected here with the word "drink," or "drink in," because this kind of food was "sucked" in at the mouth, and the mode of partaking of it resembled the act of drinking. Gesenius. The allusion is the same as that which so often occurs in the Scriptures, where the provisions of salvation are represented as a "feast," or where the illustration is drawn from the act of eating or drinking.

Of thy house - Furnished by thy house, or in the place of public worship. God is represented as the Head or Father of a family, and as providing for the wants of his children. Compare Psalm 23:6; Psalm 27:4.

And thou shalt make them drink - In allusion to the provisions of salvation considered as adapted to satisfy the needs of the thirsty soul.

Of the river - The abundance. Not a running fountain; not a gentle bubbling rivulet; not a stream that would soon dry up; but a "river," large; full; overflowing; inexhaustible.

Of thy pleasures - Furnishing happiness or pleasure such as "thine" is. The pious man has happiness of the same "kind" or "nature" as that of God. It is happiness in holiness or purity; happiness in doing good; happiness in the happiness of others. It is in this sense that the friend of God partakes of His pleasure or happiness. Compare 2 Peter 1:4. The following things, therefore, are taught by this verse:

(1) that God is happy;

(2) that religion makes man happy;

(3) that his happiness is of the same "kind" or "nature" as that of God;

continued...

8. fatness—richness.

thy house—residence—for the privileges and blessings of communion with God (Ps 23:6; 27:4).

river of thy pleasures—plenteous supply; may allude to Eden.

They, i. e. those children of men who trust in thee, as he now said,

shall be abundantly satisfied; though now they are straitened, oppressed, and persecuted, yet they shall not only be protected and supported for the present, but in due time shall have all their wants and desires fully satisfied. Heb.

shall be made drunk, i.e. shall be as it were overwhelmed with the plenty of it, which they shall no more be able to comprehend than a drunken man is able perfectly to understand and judge of things; and shall be free, as drunken men also are, from all cares and fears, either of not obtaining it, or of losing it.

With the fatness of thy house; with those rich and delightful provisions which thou hast prepared for them in thy habitation, i.e. either,

1. In the tabernacle, where they used to feast upon the remainders of the sacrifices; to which also he seems here to allude. Or rather,

2. In heaven; which is called God’s house, both in Scripture, as John 14:2, and in divers ancient heathen authors. For the expressions here used are too magnificent to be bestowed upon those feasts, or indeed upon any of the enjoyments of this life, and do ill become him, who professedly disowns the having of his portion in this life, and declares his expectation of happiness in the next life, Psalm 17:14,15. And seeing it is apparent from Hebrews 11, and from many other scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, that both David, and Job, and Abraham, and the rest of the holy patriarchs and prophets, had a firm belief and hope of the future life, and their felicity therein; it seems most reasonable to understand all those passages of David and the other prophets of it, which naturally, and without any force, may be so understood; of which number certainly this verse and the following is one.

Drink: before they had fatness, i.e. fat meats; and now drink, to note the completeness of their feast.

Of the river; which notes both their plenty, and their constancy and perpetuity.

Of thy pleasures; which thou preparest, and which thou enjoyest; whence it is called the joy of the Lord, Matthew 25:21. Or this notes their great eminency; for things most excellent in their kinds are entitled to God, as the goodliest cedars, mountains, &c., are called cedars of God, mountains of God, &c. They shall be abundantly sallied with the fatness of thy house,.... By his "house" is meant the church of God, of his building, and where he dwells; by the fatness of it the provisions there, the word and ordinances, and the blessings of grace which they hold forth; and especially Christ, the fatted calf, the bread of life, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed, and which make a feast of fat things; and these they that trust in the Lord are welcome to eat and drink of abundantly, and to abundant satisfaction; see Matthew 5:6, Psalm 22:26;

and thou shall make them drink of the river of thy pleasure; the love of God, whose streams make glad the city of God; or the fulness of grace, which is in Christ, out of which believers draw with joy, and drink with pleasure; or eternal glory and happiness, enjoyed in the presence of God, in which is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore; a never ceasing torrent of them.

They shall be abundantly {g} satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

(g) Only God's children have enough of all things both concerning this life and the life to come.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. God is more than a protector. He is a bountiful host, who provides royal entertainment for His guests. Cp. Psalm 23:5-6; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 65:4. The metaphor is derived from the sacrificial meal, in which God receives the worshipper at His table[12] (Leviticus 7:15; Jeremiah 31:14). That welcome is the sacramental expression of His relation to man.

[12] See Bp. Westcott’s Hebrews, p. 292.

the river of thy pleasures] Or, the stream (Amos 5:24) of thy delights: a different word from that in Psalm 16:11, and derived from the same root as Eden.Verse 8. - They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house. God will satisfy all who trust in him with "blessings out of his holy seat," and will satisfy them abundantly. The blessings intended are spiritual blessings; and the "house" is, primarily, "the place where God set his name," which at this time was the tabernacle. Faithful Israelites were to expect spiritual blessings through faithful attendance on the tabernacle worship, so far as it was accessible to them. The "house" typified heaven, whence, of course, the blessings really came. And thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures; literally, the river of thy Edens. Thou shalt give them access to an exhaustless fountain of delight, a stream like that which watered Eden (comp. Isaiah 51:3; Isaiah 55:1; John 4:14; John 7:37, 38). (Heb.: 36:1-4) At the outset the poet discovers to us the wickedness of the children of the world, which has its roots in alienation from God. Supposing it were admissible to render Psalm 36:2 : "A divine word concerning the evil-doing of the ungodly is in the inward parts of my heart" (נאם with a genitive of the object, like משּׂא, which is compared by Hofmann), then the difficulty of this word, so much complained of, might find the desired relief in some much more easy way than by means of the conjecture proposed by Diestel, נעם (נעם), "Pleasant is transgression to the evil-doer," etc. But the genitive after נאם (which in Psalm 110:1; Numbers 24:3., 15f., 2 Samuel 23:1; Proverbs 30:1, just as here, stands at the head of the clause) always denotes the speaker, not the thing spoken. Even in Isaiah 5:1 שׁירת דודי לכרמו is not a song concerning my beloved in relation to His vineyard, but a song of my beloved (such a song as my beloved has to sing) touching His vineyard. Thus, therefore, פּשׁע must denote the speaker, and לרשׁע, as in Psalm 110:1 לאדני, the person or thing addressed; transgression is personified, and an oracular utterance is attributed to it. But the predicate בּקרב לבּי, which is intelligible enough in connection with the first rendering of פשׁע as genit. obj., is difficulty and harsh with the latter rendering of פשׁע as gen. subj., whatever way it may be understood: whether, that it is intended to say that the utterance of transgression to the evil-doer is inwardly known to him (the poet), or it occupies and affects him in his inmost parts. It is very natural to read לבּו, as the lxx, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and Jerome do. In accordance therewith, while with Von Lengerke he takes נאם as part of the inscription, Thenius renders it: "Sin is to the ungodly in the midst of his heart," i.e., it is the inmost motive or impulse of all that he thinks and does. But this isolation of נאם is altogether at variance with the usage of the language and custom. The rendering given by Hupfeld, Hitzig, and at last also by Bצttcher, is better: "The suggestion of sin dwells in the ungodly in the inward part of his heart;" or rather, since the idea of בקרב is not central, but circumferential, in the realm of (within) his heart, altogether filling up and absorbing it. And in connection with this explanation, it must be observed that this combination בקרב לבו (instead of בקרבו, or בלבו, בלבבו) occurs only here, where, together with a personification of sin, an incident belonging to the province of the soul's life, which is the outgrowth of sin, is intended to be described. It is true this application of נאם does not admit of being further substantiated; but נאם (cognate נהם, המה), as an onomatopoetic designation of a dull, hollow sound, is a suitable word for secret communication (cf. Arabic nemmâm, a tale-bearer), or even - since the genius of the language does not combine with it the idea of that which is significantly secretly, and solemnly silently communicated, but spoken out - a suitable word for that which transgression says to the ungodly with all the solemn mien of the prophet or the philosopher, inasmuch as it has set itself within his heart in the place of God and of the voice of his conscience. לרשׁע does not, however, denote the person addressed, but, as in Psalm 32:10, the possessor. He possesses this inspiration of iniquity as the contents of his heart, so that the fear of God has no place therein, and to him God has no existence (objectivity), that He should command his adoration.

Since after this נאם פּשׁע we expect to hear further what and how transgression speaks to him, so before all else the most probable thing is, that transgression is the subject to החליק. We do not interpret: He flatters God in His eyes (with eye-service), for this rendering is contrary both to what precedes and to what follows; nor with Hupfeld (who follows Hofmann): "God deals smoothly (gently) with him according to his delusions," for the assumption that החליק must, on account of בּעיניו, have some other subject that the evil-doer himself, is indeed correct. It does not, however, necessarily point to God as the subject, but, after the solemn opening of Psalm 36:2, to transgression, which is personified. This addresses flattering words to him (אל like על in Proverbs 29:5) in his eyes, i.e., such as are pleasing to him; and to what end? For the finding out, i.e., establishing (מצא עון, as in Genesis 44:16; Hosea 12:9), or, - since this is not exactly suited to פשׁע as the subject, and where it is a purpose that is spoken of, the meaning assequi, originally proper to the verb מצא, is still more natural - to the attainment of his culpability, i.e., in order that he may inculpate himself, to hating, i.e., that he may hate God and man instead of loving them. לשׂנא is designedly used without an object just as in Ecclesiastes 3:8, in order to imply that the flattering words of פשׁע incite him to turn into an object of hatred everything that he ought to love, and to live and move in hatred as in his own proper element. Thenius endeavours to get rid of the harshness of the expression by the following easy alteration of the text: למצא עון ולשׂנא; and interprets it: Yea, it flatters him in his own eyes (it tickles his pride) to discover faults in others and to make them suffer for them. But there is no support in the general usage of the language for the impersonal rendering of the החליק; and the בּעיניו, which in this case is not only pleonastic, but out of place, demands a distinction between the flatterer and the person who feels himself flattered. The expression in Psalm 36:3, in whatever way it may be explained, is harsh; but David's language, whenever he describes the corruption of sin with deep-seated indignation, is wont to envelope itself in such clouds, which, to our difficult comprehension, look like corruptions of the text. In the second strophe the whole language is more easy. להשׂכּיל להיטיב is just such another asyndeton as למצא עונו לשׂנא. A man who has thus fallen a prey to the dominion of sin, and is alienated from God, has ceased (חדל ל, as in 1 Samuel 23:13) to act wisely and well (things which essentially accompany one another). His words when awake, and even his thoughts in the night-time, run upon און (Isaiah 59:7), evil, wickedness, the absolute opposite of that which alone is truly good. Most diligently does he take up his position in the way which leads in the opposite direction to that which is good (Proverbs 16:29; Isaiah 65:2); and his conscience is deadened against evil: there is not a trace of aversion to it to be found in him, he loves it with all his soul.

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