Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.” (Psalm 36:5-10, NIV)

I remember when I was little, my Dad coming home from work. He would sit on the couch and watch the news while my Mom cooked supper. I would sit next to him, leaning against his left side, sort of tucked under his arm. I still remember the warmth, the smell of the carpentry shop where he worked and the sound of his breathing.

When it was my turn to be a Dad, I enjoyed having my children close; holding them, hugging them and just sitting quietly with them for as long as they were content to stay. The same goes for the times I get to see the grandkids.

My Dad was an imperfect man. I am a very imperfect father and grandfather. But our Father in heaven is absolutely perfect in His fathering skills and love for all His children. That is the message we find in Psalm 36.

As we learn to pray, using selections from the Book of Psalms, we learn from Psalm 36 about;

  1. The world of hurt we often face living in a world of wickedness, where there is seemingly “no fear of God.” [Verses 1-4]
  2. The way to find the love, faithfulness, righteousness, justice, preservation and refuge we need. [Verses 5-9]
  3. A short prayer to keep us focused and confident as we weave our way through the wicked “which’s” of a wayward world. [Verses 10-11]

The opening verses form a prelude to the Psalm. We are told who the author is, “David the servant of the Lord.” We are also informed of what was on his mind as he composed these lyrics; “I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [Verse 1] Whatever the circumstances might have been, David has clearly been contemplating his own enemies and other wicked persons in general.

The Bible tells us quite succinctly, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The wicked, however, are not simply sinners. David describes them as self-focused, yet blind to their true condition; arrogant yet foolish and fallen and committed night and day to evil. The wicked have not only fallen short of God’s glory, like the rest of us, but they are actively opposed to all that is good and Godly. “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.” [Verses 2-4]

These meditations of David turn him, not to despair and hopelessness, but to the One True God who is above and beyond any and all wickedness we find in this world. In verses 5-9, the central themes expressed in prayerful praise to God, we find our fortifications against the wickedness of the world.

  1. God’s love and faithfulness is infinite. “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”
  2. God’s righteousness is massive and unmovable; “Your righteousness is like the highest mountains”
  3. God’s justice is unfathomable; “your justice like the great deep.”
  4. God’s care is universal; “You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.”

David describes God’s love as the greatest of all treasures, given to us fully, according to His amazing grace; “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!” No matter what goes down in this world, believers find gracious and merciful “refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

We are invited into the glorious hall of the Lord’s abundant and everlasting provision for us. “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

The body of this prayer is adoration. David concludes the prayer with a supplication focused on everyone who trusts in the Lord; “Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.”

There is a postlude in the last two verses. Verse 11 is a benediction that we can take to heart and pray for ourselves as we begin each day or encounter the wickedness of those who stand against us and our Lord; “May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.” By faith, we should be encouraged and moved to compassion and pity by David’s final observation in verse 12; “See how the evildoers lie fallen—thrown down, not able to rise!”

One of the main points of Psalm 36 is the invitation to find refuge under the wings of the Lord. This theme is pictured in several places in the Scriptures.

  1. As he approached the end of his life, Moses sang about God’s faithfulness to Israel in the wilderness; “He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” [Deut. 32:10b-11]
  2. Boaz pronounced this gracious benediction upon the Gentile Ruth; “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” [Ruth 2:12]
  3. Psalm 91:1 makes this “whosever will” promise; “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
  4. And Jesus lamented the unrepentant Jews in Matthew 23:37; “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

God’s infinite love will save even the most wicked people, if they repent and trust Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The only thing that can prevent the amazing grace of God described in Psalm 36 is the stubborn will of wicked people. Don’t be stubborn, come into the shade of God's wings and find refuge.