Psalm 36:3
The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he has left off to be wise, and to do good.
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(3, 4) From the secret promptings of sin, the description of the ungodly passes on to its issues in words and deeds. It is an awful picture of wickedness of a man abandoning himself without check or remorse to the inspiration of his own evil heart. He goes from bad to worse. In a great English tragedy, the murderer, though he has determined to wade farther in blood, yet prays against the horror of nightly temptations:

“Merciful powers,

Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature

Gives way to in repose.

But this man “deviseth mischief upon his bed.” When even the worst criminals shudder at their own deeds, whispering to their “deaf pillows” the agonies that creep over them with darkness and silence, this ungodly man of the Hebrew poet’s picture is occupied rather in scheming fresh villainies; even then he abhorreth not evil, or better, rejecteth not, catches rather at every fresh suggestion, and shapes it to his end.

Psalm 36:3-4. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit — Are wicked and deceitful. He hath left off to be wise and to do good — Once he had some degrees of wisdom, and did things that were apparently good, and seemed to be under the government of religion: but now he is an open apostate from that which he once professed. He deviseth mischief upon his bed — Freely from his own inclination, when none are present to provoke him to it. He setteth himself in a way that is not good — He doth not repent of his wicked devices, but resolutely proceeds to execute them, and persists therein. He abhorreth not evil — Though he sometimes professes to feel remorse for his conduct, and desists for a time from his evil practices, yet he does not truly repent of, nor abhor them, and therefore is ready to return to them when any occasion offers itself.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.The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit - Are false and wicked. See the notes at Psalm 12:2. It is words do not fairly represent or express what is in his heart.

He hath left off to be wise - To act wisely; to do right.

And to do good - To act benevolently and kindly. This would seem to imply that there had been a change in his conduct, or that he was not what he once professed to be, and appeared to be. This language would be applicable to the change in the conduct of Saul toward David after he became envious and jealous of him 1 Samuel 18; and it is possible, as Amyraldus supposed, that this may have had particular reference to him. But such instances of a change, of feeling and conduct are not very uncommon in the world, and it may doubtless have happened that David experienced this more than once in his life.

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.

Are iniquity and deceit, i.e. are wicked and deceitful. Once he had some shadows or degrees of wisdom, and sometimes did some things that were good in their kind; but new he hath not so much as the appearance of it, and is become an open apostate from that which once he professed. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit,.... Not only sinful, but sin itself; his mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, of filthy and unchaste words, of corrupt communication, lying, deceit, and flattery; out of the abundance of the wickedness of his heart his mouth speaketh; and which shows the badness of it, and proves all that is said before of him;

he hath left off to be wise, and to do good; by which the psalmist seems to intend one that had been a professor of religion, who, besides the light of nature he had acted contrary to, had had the advantage of a divine revelation, and had been enlightened into the knowledge of divine things, and had done many things externally good, particularly acts of beneficence; but now had dropped his profession of religion, denied the truths he had been enlightened into, and ceased from doing good; otherwise a natural man understandeth not; and, though he is wise to do evil, to do good he has no knowledge.

The words of his mouth are iniquity and {c} deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

(c) The reprobates mock wholesome doctrine, and put no difference between good and evil.

3. iniquity and deceit] Cp. Psalm 5:5-6; Psalm 10:7.

he hath left off &c.] Or, he hath ceased to be wise to do good. Cf. Jeremiah 4:22. He inverts the prophetic exhortation, Isaiah 1:16-17. The word here rendered to be wise is specially used of the intelligence which leads to right and successful conduct. Cp. Psalm 14:2 (understand); Psalm 101:2 (behave myself wisely).

3, 4. The fruits of this reckless atheism described.Verse 3. - The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit (comp. Psalm 12:2; Psalm 28:3). He hath left off to be wise, and to do good. There was a time when he occasionally acted wisely, and did what was right. But that time is gone by. Now he is consistently wicked. On the metonymical use of נפשׁ, like τὸ ὀρεκτικόν for ὄρεξις, vid., Psychol. S. 203 tr. p. 239. The climax of desire is to swallow David up, i.e., to overpower him and clear him out of the way so that there is not a trace of him left. בּלּענוּהוּ with ע before נ, as in Psalm 132:6, and frequently; on the law of the vowels which applies to this, vid., Ewald, ֗60, a. שׂמחי רעתי is a short form of expression for רעתי שׂמחים (בּ) על. To put on shame and dishonour (Psalm 109:29, cf. Psalm 18), so that these entirely cover them, and their public external appearance corresponds with their innermost nature.
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