Transgression [like an Oracle] speaks to the wicked deep in his heart.
There is no fear or dread of God before his eyes.
For he flatters and deceives himself in his own eyes,
That his iniquity will not be found out and be hated.
…he does not reject or despise evil.
Psalms 36: 1-2,4b Amplified
I believe King David wrote this Psalms out of his own personal experience with sin. The person in the psalm is called “the ungodly” (NASB) or “the wicked” (Amplified). The main fundamental characteristic of this person is there is no fear or dread of God before his eyes. He does not reject or despise evil.
Transgression signifies “willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living (Vines). You can not rebel against something unless it has been applied to you as a restraint. This is one reason I believe King David is speaking from his personal battle with sin. We will use the Bathsheba and Uriah scandal (II Samuel 11) to illustrate our point.
Transgression speaks pure rebellion against God’s revealed will in the heart of the ungodly or wicked person. In Scripture the heart is described as the hidden man, the “real me”, who I really am when the exterior facade that people see is stripped off. As the heart is hidden within the body of man, so the “real me” is hidden from the view of others…but not from God’s view. It is here, the heart, where this person has rejected God’s lordship.
Rebellion speaks “like an Oracle”. This means man’s heart hears transgression or rebellion as an authoritative voice, it sounds true and correct in what it says because man’s heart is exceedingly wicked, who can know it. In ancient times an oracle was someone who heard from the pagan gods (demons) and was sought out by the powerful and the not so powerful who needed to know “the will of the gods”. Whatever the oracle said settled the matter. For example, Alexander The Great sought out the Temple of Apollo oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greece for “godly” advice.
This spirit of rebellion speaks with authority deep in the heart of this person. The common characteristic of the ungodly or wicked is that there is no fear or dread of God before their eyes. “Fear” is obedient, reverential respect or awe for God. They do not have it. “…no …dread” means he does feel extreme reluctance to face God if he offends Him (Vines). In the midst of his willful rebellion toward God, he does not think about having to give an account before a Holy God. Because this measuring stick, the fear and dread of the Lord is not before the eyes of his understanding, he does not realize that he is deceiving himself. He is blinded with his own cravings or lusts and the desire to please man, or himself, instead of pleasing God.
Oh, there is a way that seems right to man but the ends thereof are death.
The reason he does not think about God in these matters is because rebellion flatters the heart to soothe his conscience, that organ that convicts of right and wrong. The flattery “sears the conscience” so it ceases to work, therefore, they have no moral compass. They are morally blind, i.e. if it feels good do it. The deception is necessary to prevent the inner man, especially in a Christian, from discovering his own iniquity and, consequently, hating his iniquity. Instead he, the Christian, goes on in his rebellion against God’s revealed will.
In David’s case, he went nine months being deceived by his transgression concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, her husband and David’s loyal soldier. It was only when Nathan, God’s prophet, rebuked David did he awaken from transgression’s deceiving flattery and the fear or dread of the Lord returned to his understanding. Transgression flattered him with things like: “Your the king, do what you wish”; “You work hard and deserve this;” or “Your a strong warrior and smart leader, it is unfortunate that good men (i.e. Uriah) have to die”.
As born again Christians, if we discover our iniquity in the light of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we will hate it, for our true born again nature is to be Christ-like and not devil-like. If we can only repent of our sin in “words” but not in “practice”, then we will get on our knees and beg God to deliver us from the sin because we know He hates it; therefore, we hate it. By true repentance and the mercy of God, we can escape the bondage that our sin has delivered us into. Paul said:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, YOU BECAME OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART to that form of teaching to which you were committed….
(Romans 6: 16-17 emphasis added)
The fear of the Lord includes the hatred of evil but a person in this condition, does not reject or despise evil (verse 4). Instead they embrace it and hold it close to their heart. They deceive themselves and others about what they are doing or so they think. David describes this person’s conduct:
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He plans wickedness upon his bed;
He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil.
(Psalms 36: 3-4 Amplified emphasis added)
If we have rebellion flattering us in our hearts concerning something WE KNOW is sin, displeasing to God, we need to get into God’s word and let Him teach us the fear or reverence of the Lord so we can truly hate our sin. We all like the song Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin but the apostle Peter says if we call God “Father” we need to live in the fear or reverence of the Lord:
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN FEAR during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
(I Peter 1:17-19 emphasis added)
I know to some Christians, maybe most, fearing or reverencing the Lord is a foreign concept due to the emphasis on “love” in the New Testament church and the sugar coated preaching many hear today. In future post we will look at how the early Christian church conducted itself in the fear of the Lord and that Lord Jesus, the Messiah, delighted in the fear of the Lord.
Think on these things. Examine yourself. If need be, learn to walk in the wholesome, healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (i.e. the fear of the Lord) of the Ancient of Days, our Heavenly Father, and Lord Jesus.
Oh by the way, did you see your self in what David said?