Psalm 36:5-9 – The Lord’s Great Love

Allen Ross points out the psalmist does not compare his righteous heart to the wicked person. Most people would expect the writer to say “but not so me!” after this picture of the person who lives in total ignorance of impending doom. (Something like Godwin’s Law—as long as there are Nazis, I will always be righteous.)

Rather than compare his righteousness with the wicked, the Psalmist describes the Lord as the Ultimate Righteous One. To reject the deep, steadfast love of the Lord, is foolish indeed!

Mountain of GodThe Love of the Lord is Steadfast (v. 5). Steadfast love (חֶסֶד) of the Lord refers to his covenant faithfulness and loyalty his faithfulness (אֱמוּנָה) is honesty or trustworthiness. There is a great deal of rich theology in the Hebrew Bible based on the idea of God as loyal, his hesed toward his people is foundational for understanding much of the story of the people of Israel. God will be faithful to his promises despite human sin and rebellion. Sometimes the Hebrew Bible uses a marriage metaphor for this loyalty (Ruth, Hosea).

God’s righteousness (צְדָקָה) and judgments (מִשְׁפָּט) complement each other as well. God is wholly righteous in his character so that all his decisions are perfectly just. If he has decided to reward or punish, we can be assured his decisions are correct.

The psalmist compares God’s love and justice to the heights and depths of creation. These lines imply God’s character is built into the very fabric of creation—there is no place anyone can escape God’s love and justice! (McCann, “The Book of Psalms,” NIB 4:823). His love and faithfulness reaches to the skies and clouds, as high as the eye can see.

God’s righteous judgments reach to the “mountains of God.” This metaphor indicates God’s righteousness is like mountains which will not erode and pass away, they are permanent fixtures in the heavens.

The “great deep” (תְּהוֹם) refers to the bottom of the seas, the “primeval oceans” or the opposite of heavenly mountains. If the highest place in all creation is the “mountains of God,” then the ultimate lowest place is the deepest sea. Like other texts which contrast the highest heaven and the lowest place in sheol. The point here is that all of reality is infused with God’s righteousness and justice.

For many scholars, both God and “depths” evoke Canaanite mythology (Jacobson, 342, for example). El is the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon, and the Hebrew word for depths is similar to Tiamat, the god of chaos. The Lord’s love and justice are so great they permeate creation, but they are also far greater than any of the gods worshiped by the nations.


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