God’s Qualities and Our Response Ps. 36: 1-2 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Psalm 36, David extols five characteristics of God. In verses 5-7, he praises the Lord for his mercy, his faithfulness, his righteousness, his judgments and his lovingkindness. In this message we are going to discuss these characteristics a bit so that we can fully appreciate what they are.
Then we are going to see how men respond to God. Men who want to know God and be upright find these characteristics of God very appealing and are, therefore, drawn to God. They trust him. They desire the blessings that come from God more than they desire iniquity. Others, on the other hand, who are wicked, ignore God and prefer iniquity to God and these good qualities of God. They reject him. Hence, they suffer the consequences of their choice, while the righteous reap the benefits of theirs.
His Mercy – “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens.” Have you ever looked up on a perfectly blue day, like in the fall or the spring after a norther, and absorbed the beauty and vastness of that blue sky? Have you ever looked up on a perfectly clear night and considered the vastness of the galaxies that you can see above you? They seem to be limitless, infinite. So is the mercy of God. It resides above this world of sin so that our rebellion cannot exhaust its abundant supply. And as the heavens are constantly above you, so the mercy of God is constantly available to you. Heb 4:16.
His Faithfulness – “thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” Clouds obscure the sun, and the moon and the stars. These lights of the day and of the night are the constant testimony of the faithfulness of God. Jeremiah said, “If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever,” [Jer 31:36]. Just because you can’t see these ordinances when they are obscured by storm clouds, you know they are still there. And just because you can’t see the promises of God when you are afflicted by the storms of life, you know that God’s promises are still there because God is faithful. Spurgeon said, “He never fails, nor forgets, nor falters, nor forfeits his word.”
His Righteousness – “thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” The towering mountains of the world stand in their grandeur and inspire awe at the sight of them. I’ll never forget the beauty of the glacier mountains of Washington that I saw from the Pacific Crest Trail. Nor shall I ever forget the grandeur of Mount Calvary where God allowed his only begotten Son to pay my debt of sin so that I could stand before him in his righteousness. That mountain stands as a constant testimony that any sinner desiring God’s righteousness can come to the Savior who died there and be as righteous as he is.
His Judgments – “thy judgments are a great deep.” When you open your Bible to page one, you see that the earth was completely submerged in water, “and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” [Gen 1:2]. When the earth was again submerged in water during Noah’s flood, “the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up,” [Gen 7:11]. As the waters of the deep completely submerged the earth, so the judgments of God cover everything God made. One reason that men try to get rid of God and God’s words is that they don’t agree with his judgments and they can’t understand them. Like the unsearchable depths, Paul said, “how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out,” [Rom 11:33]. God makes his judgments and he doesn’t have to explain why. We must simply abide by his judgments.
His Lovingkindness – “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” The best thing to say about God’s love is that it is excellent. It excels the love of all others. After all, “God is love.” God so loved the world…. God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love hath no men than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. If his love toward sinners was so great, you must know that his love toward his children exceeds every love imaginable.
How the wicked respond to God
They sin against God – Ps 36:1 – when David considered the wicked and their transgression against God, he concluded that “there is no fear of God before his eyes.” They couldn’t possibly do what they do against God, if they would consider and believe his good qualities. They have no regard for him whatsoever. Spurgeon said, “Unholiness is clear evidence of ungodliness. Wickedness is the fruit of an atheistic root… If God be everywhere, and I fear him, how can I dare to break his laws in his very presence? He must be a desperate traitor who will rebel in the monarch’s own halls. Those eyes which have no fear of God before them now, shall have the terrors of hell before them forever.”
They flatter themselves – Ps 36:2 – when you hear them speak they talk of their goodness, their religion, their good deeds, and their accomplishments, as if these make them worthy before God. They are no different than the Pharisees of Jesus day. When confronted with God in the flesh, they hated him. Likewise, the iniquity of these transgressors will reveal their hatred of God. They would never say it [Ps 36:3], but their actions display it.
They don’t abhor evil – Ps 36:4 – while the mind of a righteous man will meditate upon the good qualities of God, the mind of the wicked contemplates mischief. He goes to sleep dreaming of mischief and he wakes up thinking about how to accomplish it. “He setteth himself in a way that is not good.” Jesus said of the Pharisees that they were an evil and adulterous generation, because he knew their hearts and he knew their thoughts. They didn’t abhor evil; and when you don’t abhor evil, you are like them. You can’t be neutral.
How the upright respond to God
They put their trust in God – Ps 36:7 – they regard these excellent qualities of God and they turn to him. They humble themselves to receive his mercy. They trust his faithfulness. They forsake their own “goodness” to have his righteousness. They submit themselves to his judgment, first, finding innocence in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. And then they live according to his judgments rather than to their own justifications. They seek his lovingkindness through continual fellowship with Jesus Christ [Ps 36:10].
They are satisfied – Ps 36:8 – When we trust God by faith in Jesus Christ, we become part of his household. In his house, we are abundantly satisfied. We fins a satisfaction that we never had in the world. We drink of the river of his pleasures. You can’t enjoy his pleasures if you are feasting on the world’s pleasures of sin. His pleasures are deep and satisfying and everlasting. The pleasures of sin are only for a season.
They live – Ps 36:9 – For with thee is the fountain of life. His fountain is a continual flow and abundant flow. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “out his belly shall flow rivers of living water,” [Jn 7:38]. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. We walk in his light, the light of Jesus Christ, the light of his word and, ultimately, “the light which no man can approach unto,” [1 Tim 6:16]. We will forever dwell with God in the presence of his eternal light.
Conclusion: Ps 36:12 the workers of iniquity fall, they are cast down and they “shall not be able to rise.” If you realize after hearing this message that you are wicked and you want to be righteous, the mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, judgments and lovingkindness of God are available to you right now through the Lord Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” Like David said, in this Psalm, put your trust in God.
If you are righteous because you have trusted in Jesus, then let me ask you a question. Why is it that you prefer to be with those who have no fear of God before their eyes? Why do you prefer the workers of iniquity over the children of God? Look at what David said in Ps 36:11. You will never know the satisfaction of the house of God and the pleasures of drinking from his river until you part company with those who hate him. You are going to gravitate to one group or the other. I, for one, will take my place with the children of men who have put their trust under the shadow of his wings.