To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord.
1 An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4 He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
He does not abhor evil.
5 Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
8 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
9 For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
10 Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 Let not the foot of pride come against me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been cast down and are not able to rise.
The central motif of this psalm is God’s hesed, traditionally translated “lovingkindness,” specifically denoting the expression of God’s covenant love (see Psalm 5:7).
Rather than pursuing the dictates of hesed exemplified by God, the ungodly (i.e., those who don’t know God, per the contrast with v.10) pursue the dictates of its opposite, pesha (“unfaithfulness”; “transgression”; “acts which break relationships”). The centrality of pesha to the ungodly is vividly underscored by the opening statement that it “speaks” — which verb translates the formulaic Hebrew term ne um, used throughout the Old Testament primarily to signify the utterances of God, whether given directly or communicated through a prophet (cf. Genesis 2:16; Psalm 110:1; Zechariah 12:1). It’s use here in the opening verse thus implies that, to the ungodly, pesha (unfaithfulness) serves the same role that God’s Word (and its exemplification in hesed) serves to the godly — to wit: the authoritative model to emulate in all aspects of life. It should be noted, moreover, that the ungodly in verse 1 refers not just to the especially wicked, but in fact, in view of how the verse is cited by Paul in Romans 3:18, everyone — “both Jews and Gentiles” — who have not submitted themselves to God, in faith, as “slaves of righteousness,” and who are therefore still “under” (i.e., slaves of) sin (Romans 6:17-18). — Wechsler, pages 107-108.
Verse 1 is quoted in Romans 3:18.
The sense of verse 2 is that the unsaved man flatters himself regarding his sin so that he does not recognize its evil and hate it.
He devises wickedness on his bed (v.4) — Proverbs 4:16; Micah 2:1
is in the heavens (v.5) = inexhaustible, never ceasing
trust (v.7) — Trust is the characteristic Old Testament word for the New Testament “faith,” and “believe.” It occurs 152 times in the Old Testament, and is the rendering of Hebrew words signifying to take refuge (e.g., Ruth 2:12); to lean on (e.g., Psalm 56:3); to roll on (e.g. Psalm 22:8); to wait for (e.g., Job 35:14). — Scofield, page 602.
pleasures (v.8) = a luxury, delight — from the Hebrew word Eden.
fountain of life (v.9) — Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:10, 14.
In Your light we see light (v.9) — For man God is the only source of light, which in the Bible is employed as a symbol of life and/or salvation, whether physical or spiritual (cf. Psalm 49:19; Isaiah 9:2; John 1:4-9; Ephesians 5:8; Revelation 21:22-23). — Wechsler, page 109
continue (v.10) = lit. “draw out at length”