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Singing Psalm 36 to spark transforming motives

If you want a description of the distinctions between living life independent of or dependent on God, without and with the grace of God planted in your heart, singing Psalm 36 will give it to you.


The Lord sets the stage for transforming motives as he lays bare before your eyes past (or even present) intentions of your heart

The first half and last line of Psalm 36 translate what it means to see life through a distorted lens that results in living each day in a way that displays no fear of God.

It’s living as if God doesn’t notice or care if you: live only for self, do premeditated evil toward others, have forsaken good plans and wisdom, foolishly dig in your heels cementing them in ways that are not good, are unwilling to turn from evil, or have a cocky surety that no one will know or despise you or your sin.


Self-reliant, scheming evil, and thinking others are blind to him, he hides in darkness and lies. You are your own worst enemy when you are not dependent on God.


The Lord is transforming motives as he gives insight into the wonder of all he is to you

In contrast, the upright is focused not on self but on glorifying God because he meditates on God’s love, faithfulness, justice, judgments, preservation, graciousness, provisions, life, light, and protection. He knows God's love that reaches up to heaven, his faithfulness that reaches the skies, his justice that is like great mountains, his judgments that are like the depths of wisdom.


He focuses on how the Lord preserves man and beast, on the preciousness of his grace, and how all mankind can place their trust beneath the shadow of his wings and be satisfied with the bounty of his house where there is delightful food and drink provided because the flowing spring of life is surely found with God. We have light in view from the shining light of his to all who acknowledge him.


He forever shows his love on those who are upright in heart. He bestowed his righteousness and will not allow proud feet to let the upright be crushed or led by an evil hand.

Cry out for help to resist the “foot of arrogance” or the “hand of the wicked” from planting themselves within you, threatening to derail you from upright ways to bring you down to the point where you cannot rise. Without your consent, these enemies by proxy won’t stop short of your utter demise. (Psalm 36:11-12)


Therefore, it is good for the upright to pray that for their own fallen nature and for those who persist in boldly rejecting God and his ways that “where he falls he will be thrust down not able to stand.” The Holy Spirit hears your cries and lives within you who trust in Jesus in order to guide and comfort you on the path to life.


His steadfast-loving presence is deep and wide, so precious and perfectly-suited to your need for protection against trouble and deceit. He is able and willing to defeat the enemy within making you gentle and humble like Jesus in the face of any and every provocation.


“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.” (Luke 4:1-2) Jesus endured provoking temptations all day every day for well over a month and went hungry so that you would be satisfied.


Because of his steadfast love he protects his people from self-flattery, self-promotion, and plotting trouble for others. He is transforming motives within you so that you genuinely want to know how it’s going for others, wanting their well-being, letting go of comparisons, envy, and evil, suspicious thoughts. You know what it’s like to be enslaved in these ways and want others to enjoy freedom with you. You can cheer others on and seek to support them in the race the Lord has given them to run knowing that he has given us different gifts and challenges along the way. You can ask that he turn those who don’t yet know how to reject evil and do good because he turned you from emptiness to “feast on his abundance” and from thirsty cravings to “drink from the river of his delights.”


Acknowledge without focusing on the grievousness of the offenses that come your way. Keep your eye on the prize that the Lord opens your eyes to see. Remember the good shepherd you are following, the one who is with you leading you wherever you go, the one who resisted evil to the point of shedding his blood, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. He who is fully in charge of all things loves you and gave himself for you. Focus on the wonder of transforming motives as you sing words guiding you from self-reliant groping in darkness to depending on Jesus in light.


Singing Psalm 36 to spark transforming motives

Simply singing rather than only reading the psalms places you in a vulnerable, worshipful posture before God, lending you to turn from dependence on self or others. Singing them moves you to see the only sane course of relying on him and the insane course of making anything or anyone else your refuge. Singing them affects your emotions that can turn your desires from self-serving ways and propel you to choose deeper ways to serve God.


Singing Psalm 36, you see clearly what the Lord has laid out before you, what it looks like to be a fallen person who does not depend on God juxtaposed to what it looks like to be a fallen person who does depend on God. The initial person is hiding in darkness. This person‘s end is stumbling and will not able to rise from it. The transformed person is focused on God‘s faithfulness. He sees everything through God‘s light. This person‘s end is a spring of life. Both will have struggles and stumblings. The one depending on God will rise from them.


What a wonderful way God reasons with you – not just with your mind – but he woos you in your emotions that he gave you as gifts to inform your mind and mold your intentions so that you believe the truth and are motivated to follow it rather than to believe lies and follow them.

He uses your emotions to steer you toward himself in times of trial, in times where you are disappointed with things, with others, or with yourself. One of two things will happen for believers. Either God will help you to depend on him or, being slow to anger, he will give you over to your independent self that will eventually move you to depend on him. This is why you find so often in the psalms a cry out to God for transforming motives, in effect, to be saved from enemies both outside of yourself and within.


In singing Psalm 36, it is easy to sense how the Lord cares for you to bless you with insight, spark transforming motives that replace a heart of stone – harsh, unfeeling, and loving only yourself, with a heart of flesh – tender, gentle, and soft enough to mold you to love him and others.


“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.”~ C.S. Lewis


 “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” ~ Psalm 36:9



March 14, 2022

Updated and posted: April 11, 2022


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