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Psalm 36 - Fountain of Life

INTRODUCTION: This study will briefly look at all of Psalm 36, with a special interest in the "fountain of life." Considering the source, and the location, of that "fountain" will help us to appreciate the transformation the Lord produces within our hearts and minds. We who have received the gift of eternal life would still be among those rejecting the gift, except for the grace and mercy shown to us by our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the BBE (Bible in Basic English, 1965 edition).

A - The transgression of the wicked

"1 {To the chief music-maker. Of the servant of the Lord. Of David.} The sin of the evil-doer says in his heart, There is no fear of the Lord before his eyes. 2 For he takes comfort in the thought that his sin will not be uncovered and hated. 3 In the words of his mouth are evil and deceit; he has given up being wise and doing good. 4 He gives thought to evil on his bed; he takes a way which is not good; he is not a hater of evil."

COMMENTS: As the rebellious person steps across the boundaries set by God (transgresses, sins), those very actions indicates there is no fear of God within his heart. Continuing in this pattern of life builds to the point of flattering of oneself, doing only what is right in one's own eyes, until there is an actual hatred of the LORD that may be manifested as non-belief that God even exists to hate the sin being committed. Since the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, such a person has ceased to be wise, showing disdain for the LORD, rather than for the sin that lies within his own heart. Thoughts apartfrom God can fill the day, and carry into the night, as the mind clears for sleep. This conscious and subconscious mindset degenerates to the point where there is no rejection or loathing of evil. Since the heart is metaphorically the seat of all motivation, as the storehouse builds within, it will eventually be displayed outwardly by the words from our mouth. As the Lord Jesus said, "The good man, out of the good store of his heart, gives good things; and the evil man, out of his evil store, gives evil: for out of the full store of the heart come the words of the mouth." (Luke 6:45 BBE). We might be prone to relate these verses only to others we believe are not children of God, but we should also examine ourselves to see if any of these characteristics may creep back into our own lives. If every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor shadow of turning, and that is so; then we should continually be ready to confess our sins before the Lord that He might cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Except for the grace and mercy applied to our lives, those first four verses of the Psalm would indeed describe those of us who now believe in the Lord. The next verse illustrates that the Lord requires us to continually purpose in our hearts the course we will follow, and that scriptural principal has been embodied since the beginning of the recorded law through the writing of Moses. "And now, Israel, what would the Lord your God have you do, but to go in the fear of the Lord your God, walking in all his ways and loving him and doing his pleasure with all your heart and all your soul," (Deuteronomy 10:12 BBE). Becoming a servant of the LORD as was the case with David, brings lasting peace into our hearts. "And the peace of God, which is deeper than all knowledge, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 BBE). The foolish unbeliever without Christ can become wise only by realizing that they should have great fear because eternal judgment awaits all, but conversely, acceptance of the unlimited love of our Lord removes the fear of final judgment. "15 Everyone who says openly that Jesus is the Son of God, has God in him and is in God. 16 And we have seen and had faith in the love which God has for us. God is love, and everyone who has love is in God, and God is in him. 17 In this way love is made complete in us, so that we may be without fear on the day of judging, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love: true love has no room for fear, because where fear is, there is pain; and he who is not free from fear is not complete in love." (1 John 4:15-18 BBE).

B - The Lord's mercy and faithfulness

"5 Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and your strong purpose is as high as the clouds. 6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judging is like the great deep; O Lord, you give life to man and beast. 7 How good is your loving mercy, O God! the children of men take cover under the shade of your wings. 8 The delights of your house will be showered on them; you will give them drink from the river of your pleasures. 9 For with you is the fountain of life: in your light we will see light."

COMMENTS: Now that we know from the first four verses, the condition of men and the need of their souls, the psalmist moves on to glorify the Lord as he turns his attention to the Lord's great provision through His unlimited love. It is the Lord's mercy that is as expansive as the heavens, and the faithfulness of the Lord is so far above us as compared with reaching to the clouds. Our righteousness must come from the Lord whose righteousness is so enormous like unto a great mountain range, and whose judgments are deeper than anything we can fathom in our own minds. It is the Lord alone who preserves both man and the animals, and accepting that truth is very contrary to the one who flatters himself about his self sufficiency. The lovingkindness of the LORD is so excellent that we can confidently place our trust under the shadow of his wings, which is a vivid picture of our utter dependence upon his superior strength for our safety. The bounty of the Lord's house will provide true satisfaction as he causes the believer to drink of the rivers of pleasures to be found only in the LORD God. For with the LORD is the fountain of life; in His light shall we see the true light of understanding. Other passages provide additional phrasing for our contemplation of this subject. "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, by which one may be turned from the nets of death." (Proverbs 14:27 BBE). We must drink water as an essential for physical life, but the Lord supplies water that He makes to spring up within us for eternal life, since all people are entrapped in the snares or nets that hold us for our eventual death. "But whoever takes the water I give him will never be in need of drink again; for the water I give him will become in him a fountain of eternal life." (John 4:14 BBE). The Lord will lead us to that fountain of life in our heavenly home. "For the Lamb who is on the high seat will be their keeper and their guide to fountains of living water: and God will make glad their eyes for ever." (Revelation 7:17 BBE). How much we should long for that time when we shall realize this eternal fountain of life. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who gives ear, say, Come. And let him who is in need come; and let everyone desiring it take of the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17 BBE).

C - The Lord will continue his lovingkindness

"10 O let there be no end to your loving mercy to those who have knowledge of you, or of your righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, or the hand of the evil-doers put me out of my place. 12 There the workers of evil have come down: they have been made low, and will not be lifted up."

COMMENTS: The opening plea of this section is that there be no end to the Lord's loving mercy {lovingkindness} to those who have knowledge of Him, or of His applied righteousness to the upright in heart. So we can understand that the revealed knowledge of the Lord must be coupled with His righteousness actively resident within the heart that is upright, or yielded, to Him. The footpath of pride and the active hand of ungodliness represent two dangers to the believer, but our confidence is in the righteousness imparted from the Lord, not our own. This has been made clear in the middle section of this psalm. If the content of our hearts is the essential core of our saving faith placed only in the Lord, then ANY deviation to follow the pathway of pride, or our tendency to engage in acts of ungodliness, are dangers within ourselves. Though we can be influenced or threatened by the culture around us, we should not be on guard to be "put out of our place" only by things emanating from sources outside of ourselves. It may be more difficult to resist our own temptations, than the variety of either subtle, or ominous, threats that may come from other people, no matter how frightening some of those outside threats may be. But this should not minimize persecution that threatens our life or sustained well being, because that can truly test our resolve to stay commited to the Lord. We do have additional promises in scripture for our confidence against any lasting effect from those outside threats. "When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his haters be at peace with him." (Proverbs 16:7 BBE). "For the Lord your God goes with you, fighting for you to give you salvation from those who are against you." (Deuteronomy 20:4 BBE). "In God will I give praise to his word; in God have I put my hope; I will have no fear of what flesh may do to me." (Psalms 56:4 BBE). "The Lord is on my side; I will have no fear: what is man able to do to me?" (Psalms 118:6 BBE). "5 Be free from the love of money and pleased with the things which you have; for he himself has said, I will be with you at all times. 6 So that we say with a good heart, The Lord is my helper; I will have no fear: what is man able to do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6 BBE). And as Jesus said, "4 And I say to you, my friends, Have no fear of those who may put the body to death, and are able to do no more than that. 5 But I will make clear to you of whom you are to be in fear: of him who after death has power to send you to hell; yes, truly I say, Have fear of him. 6 Are not five sparrows given in exchange for two farthings? and God has every one of them in mind. 7 But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Have no fear: you are of more value than a flock of sparrows." (Luke 12:4-7 BBE). Though we are not immune from the evil deeds of those who reject the Lord, we are secure in His eternal love. They, however, will be cast down, and their final condition will be far worse than any that we could suffer in this physical life. The LORD cares more about His children than of sparrows that die in the natural course of things, so we must allow His perfect love to cast out all our fears as we await the upward call to be with the Lord where there will be no more pain or sorrow, as the former things are passed away.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

My precious Savior, I need your strength to keep my heart staid on the unshakable truth of your love for me as your child. As I regularly spend time reading your Word, remind me often of that fountain of life that only you provide. That fountain is to be desired above anything the material world can offer to me. Help me to fear you my LORD God, to walk in all your ways, to love You, and to serve you LORD God with all my heart and with all my soul. I believe that you have chosen me through matchless grace to have that fountain of life welling up within, and I want to be part of your kingdom here at work in this present world as I wait to be abundantly satisfied with the bounty of your house, and to drink of the river of your pleasures throughout eternity. Amen.

Published 1 March 2010