on Psalms 36 :1
The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart - It is difficult to make any sense of this line as it now stands. How can the transgression of the wicked speak with in my heart? But instead of לבי libbi, My heart, four of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have לבו libbo, His heart. "The speech of transgression to the wicked is in the midst of his heart." "There is no fear of God before his eyes." It is not by example that such a person sins; the fountain that sends forth the impure streams is in his own heart. There the spirit of transgression lives and reigns; and, as he has no knowledge of God, so he has no fear of God; therefore, there is no check to his wicked propensities: all come to full effect. Lust is conceived, sin is brought forth vigorously, and transgression is multiplied. The reading above proposed, and which should be adopted, is supported by the Vulgate, Septuagint, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Anglo-Saxon. This latter reads the sentence thus: which I shall give as nearly as possible in the order of the original. "Quoth the unrightwise, that he do guilt in himself: is not fear God's at fore eyes his." That is, The unrighteous man saith in himself that he will sin: God's fear is not before his eyes. The old Psalter, in language as well as meaning, comes very near to the Anglo-Saxon: The unrightwis saide that he trespas in hym self: the drede of God es noght before his een. And thus it paraphrases the passage: The unryghtwis, that es the kynde [the whole generation] of wyked men; said in hym self, qwar man sees noght; that he trespas, that es, he synne at his wil, als [as if] God roght noght [did not care] qwat he did; and so it es sene, that the drede of God es noght by forehis een; for if he dred God, he durst noght so say."
I believe these versions give the true sense of the passage. The psalmist here paints the true state of the Babylonians: they were idolaters of the grossest kind, and worked iniquity with greediness. The account we have in the book of Daniel of this people, exhibits them in the worst light; and profane history confirms the account. Bishop Horsley thinks that the word פשע pesha, which we render transgression, signifies the apostate or devil. The devil says to the wicked, within his heart, There is no fear; i.e., no cause of fear: "God is not before his eyes." Placing the colon after fear takes away all ambiguity in connection with the reading His heart, already contended for. The principle of transgression, sin in the heart, says, or suggests to every sinner, there is no cause for fear: go on, do not fear, for there is no danger. He obeys this suggestion, goes on, and acts wickedly, as "God is not before his eyes."
on Psalms 36 :1
The transgression of the wicked - There is considerable difficulty in respect to the grammatical construction of the Hebrew in this verse, though the general sense is plain. The main idea undoubtedly is, that the fair explanation of the conduct of the wicked, or the fair inference to be derived from that conduct was, that they had no fear of God before them; that they did in no proper way regard or fear God. The psalmist introduces himself as looking at the conduct or the acts of the wicked, and he says that their conduct can be explained, in his judgment, or "in his heart," in no other way than on this supposition. The word "transgression" here refers to some open and public act. What the particular act was the psalmist does not state, though probably it had reference to something which had been done to himself. What is here said, however, with particular reference to his enemies, may be regarded as a general truth in regard to the wicked, to wit, that their conduct is such that the fair interpretation of what they do is, that there is no "fear of God before their eyes," or that they have no regard for his will.
Saith - This word - נאם ne'ûm - is a participle from a verb, נאם nâ'am, meaning to mutter; to murmur; to speak in a low voice; and is employed especially with reference to the divine voice in which the oracles of God were revealed to the prophets. Compare 1 Kings 19:12. It is found most commonly in connection with the word "Lord" or "Yahweh," expressed by the phrase "Saith the Lord," as if the oracle were the voice of Yahweh. Genesis 22:16; Numbers 14:28; Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 3:15, "et saepe." It is correctly rendered here "saith;" or, the "saying" of the transgression of the wicked is, etc. That is, this is what their conduct "says;" or, this is the fair interpretation of their conduct.
Within my heart - Hebrew: "in the midst of my heart." Evidently this means in my judgment; in my apprehension; or, as we should say, "So it seems or appears to me." My heart, or my judgment, puts this construction on their conduct, and can put no other on it.
That there is "no fear of God - No reverence for God; no regard for his will. The sinner acts without any restraint derived from the law or the will of God.
Before his eyes - He does not see or apprehend God; he acts as if there were no God. This is the fair interpretation to be put upon the conduct of the wicked "everywhere" - that they have no regard for God or his law.
on Psalms 36 :1
36:1 No fear - When I consider the manifold transgressions of ungodly men, I conclude within myself, that they have cast off all fear of the Divine majesty.