We begin today in Psalm 36. David contrasts two types of people in this Psalm. In 36:1-4 David speaks of the wicked. Sin is active deep in their hearts (v. 1). There is no fear of God before his eyes (see Rom 3:18). These are the fools that say there is no God (Ps 14:1 and 53:1 – see Prov 1:7). Instead, the wicked exalt themselves in their own eyes and believe their sin is hidden (v. 2). But the outward speech and actions of such people betrays the sin within (v. 3). His entire life is affected by sin (v. 4).
David then contrasts the righteous with the wicked. But his focus turns to God. The difference between the wicked and the righteous is God’s hesed love and faithfulness (v. 5). It is God’s righteousness that is the difference (v. 6). This is why God’s hesed love (salvation) is more precious than anything, and why David takes refuge in God (v. 7). The provision of the saved is God’s presence (v. 8), where they find life and instruction (v. 9).
David ends with a prayer to God to continue to direct that love and His righteousness to the saved (v. 10). They are upright in heart (as opposed to defiled by sin – see v. 1) because of God’s righteousness. David prays that he would not falter and become arrogant (v. 11 – see the arrogance of v. 2), or join himself to the wicked. Because of God’s righteous judgment (see v. 6), the wicked have a sure end (v. 12).
Psalm 37 is a song of praise to God for the preservation of His saints. David begins where he ended Psalm 36: the sure end of the wicked. The elect should not fret because of the wicked, but leave judgment to Him Who judges justly (37:1-7). The “befriend” of verse 3 is the Hebrew word for “shepherd.” David is encouraging God’s people to cultivate this faithfulness – to take great care to protect it. Because for those who are faithful to God and delight in Him, God will give them everything else they need (v. 4 – see Matt 6:33). David parallels that with a call to trust God to act on our behalf (v. 5) and to judge us as righteous (v. 6).
Verses 7-9 combine the ideas David has already set forth in verses 1-6. Verse 7 exhorts: Because we trust God (v. 3, 5), we need not fret over the wicked (v. 1). David says that will only incline us to evil, such as wrath and anger (v. 8 – see Eph 4:31). And the wicked have a sure end (vv. 9-10). By contrast, the meek – those who refrain from anger and forsake wrath – will “inherit the land,” which is covenant terminology for receiving the promises of God. Christ quotes this in the Sermon on the Mount where He substitutes the typological promise of the Promised Land with the ultimate promise of reigning with Him at His return (Matt 5:5). This coincides with the sure judgment of the wicked (vv. 14-15).
With this sure end in mind, David encourages a heavenly mindset in verses 16-22. In this world, the wicked will prosper (v. 16), but this is oh so temporary (v. 17). If we see with heavenly eyes, we will see that we have all we need from God even in this world (vv. 18-19), and in the world to come the wicked will lose everything (v. 20). David then gives an example of how this plays out in the here and now (v. 21), and how it will play out at the end (v. 22). It is faith in God that ensures that our earthly circumstances do not affect anything that David has said about our standing in God (vv. 23-24).
In verses 25 and 26, David expounds again the outward actions of the heart of faith, and how God’s provision is all we need. He then calls for the shunning of evil and active righteousness among the saints as a response to God for His provision (v. 27). The three uses of “forever” in verses 27-29 show us that David has in view much more than physical life in the physical land. Those who inherit the land (are in covenant with God) forever speak wisdom and justice (v. 30) – an outworking of their hearts (v. 31). So God protects us from the wicked (vv. 32-33).
Verse 34 is speaking of our final inheritance and the final judgment of the wicked. In verses 35-36, David is again pointing to the vanity of the earthly: an encouragement to see from that heavenly point of view. Our future is sure (v. 37). The wicked’s future is sure (v. 38). Our surety comes from the salvation and righteousness of God (v. 39). It is He that saves both in this life and the life to come (v. 40).
Psalm 38 is a song of repentance. David prays for mercy (38:1). His guilt is its own punishment (v. 2). David’s sin affects him physically (v. 3, 5, 7) and mentally/emotionally (v. 4, 6, 8). David knows that God hears his prayer of repentance (v. 9), and that He knows David’s sorrow over his sin (vv. 9-10). In verse 11, we see that David feels as if his sin has affected his relationships. Even his enemies know of his trouble (v. 12).
Verses 13 and 14 poetically describe David’s understanding that he can do nothin to help himself. It is God alone that can heal David from his sin (v. 15). He prays that his enemies would not triumph over him because of his sin (v. 16 – see 1 Chr 21:13). David again speaks of his anguish over his sin (v. 17), and he repents and asks for forgiveness (v. 18). Once again, David speaks of his enemies who hate him even when he does good (vv. 19-20). David ends with a cry to God for His presence (v. 21), and His salvation (v. 22).