Human Wickedness and Divine Providence

1For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD.


2Sin directs the heart of the wicked man;

his eyes are closed to the fear of God.a

3For he lives with the delusion:

his guilt will not be known and hated.*

4Empty and false are the words of his mouth;

he has ceased to be wise and do good.

5On his bed he hatches plots;

he sets out on a wicked way;

he does not reject evil.b


6*LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;

your fidelity, to the clouds.c

7Your justice is like the highest mountains;

your judgments, like the mighty deep;

human being and beast you sustain, LORD.

8How precious is your mercy, O God!

The children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of your wings.*d

9They feast on the rich food of your house;

from your delightful streame you give them drink.

10For with you is the fountain of life,f

and in your light we see light.g

11Show mercy on those who know you,

your just defense to the upright of heart.

12Do not let the foot of the proud overtake me,

nor the hand of the wicked disturb me.

13There make the evildoers fall;

thrust them down, unable to rise.

* [Psalm 36] A Psalm with elements of wisdom (Ps 36:25), the hymn (Ps 36:610), and the lament (Ps 36:1113). The rule of sin over the wicked (Ps 36:25) is contrasted with the rule of divine love and mercy over God’s friends (Ps 36:610). The Psalm ends with a prayer that God’s guidance never cease (Ps 36:1112).

* [36:3] Hated: punished by God.

* [36:67] God actively controls the entire world.

* [36:8] The shadow of your wings: metaphor for divine protection. It probably refers to the winged cherubim in the holy of holies in the Temple, cf. 1 Kgs 6:2328, 32; 2 Chr 3:1013; Ez 1:49.

a. [36:2] Rom 3:18.

b. [36:5] Mi 2:1.

c. [36:6] Ps 57:11; 71:19.

d. [36:8] Ps 17:8.

e. [36:9] Gn 2:8, 10.

f. [36:10] Is 55:1; Jn 4:14.

g. [36:10] Ps 80:4, 8, 20.

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