Psalm 36

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Psalm 36
"The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart"
Hymn psalm
Bündheim St. Gregor Innen 03.jpg
Stained glass window depicting the "fountain of life" mentioned in the psalm, in St. Gregor VII in Bad Harzburg
Other name
  • Psalm 35
  • "Dixit iniustus"
Textby David
LanguageHebrew (original)

Psalm 36 is the 36th psalm of the Book of Psalms. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 35 in a slightly different numbering system. It is generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart". The Book of Psalms is the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 35 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Dixit iniustus ut delinquat in semet ipso".[1] The psalm is a hymn psalm, attributed to David.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has inspired hymns based on it, and has been set to music often, by Baroque composers such as Heinrich Schütz as well as contemporary composers such as Richard Nance.

Parts of this psalm have been singled out, for example "In Thy light shall we see light" which has been (in Latin: "In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen") the seal of Columbia University. The line "You save man and beast" has been cited in ecological and theological thoughts about animals.


The text of the psalm refers to its Davidic authorship, for the chief musician of the temple.[2] Matthew Henry suggests that David wrote this psalm after being attacked, either by Saul or by his son Absalom, as the psalm begins with a complaint against "the malice of his enemies against him". After decrying the "sinfulness of sin" in the first five verses, David lauds God's goodness toward all people and creatures.[3]

The psalm may be understood literally, as a prayer of the persecuted who has taken refuge in the temple, or figuratively, of one who has taken refuge in God. The psalmist takes pride in the goodness of God in which he finds safety. The psalm concludes with a plea to God to bless those who honor him with his justice, and protect them from the snares of the wicked.[4] Catholic bishop Richard Challoner's version describes this psalm as "an exhortation to despise this world and the short prosperity of the wicked, and to trust in Providence".[5]


The juxtaposition of man and animal in verse 7, "You save man and beast", has been subject to various interpretations. The Talmud (Chullin 5b) says that "beast" refers to "people who are wise in understanding but make themselves simple like a dumb beast".[6] The Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 33:1) interprets this verse as meaning that God saves man in the merit of the animals.[7] The verse is also seen by Jewish ethicists as endorsing animal welfare and animal rights.[8][9] Saint Augustine suggests that this verse proves that animals also receive salvation.[10]

The fountain of life mentioned in verse 9 (verse 8 in the KJV) has been depicted, for example on a stained glass window at the Catholic church St. Gregor VII [de] in Bündheim, part of Bad Harzburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. The phrase has been used in the context of preservation of the natural environment, such as an initiative of Christian churches in Württemberg to focus on Wasser, Gabe Gottes (Water, gift of God) on the "Tag der Schöpfung" (Day of Creation), 1 September in 2006.[11]


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 36:

Verse Hebrew
1 לַֽמְנַצֵּ֬חַ לְעֶֽבֶד־יְהֹוָ֬ה לְדָוִֽד
2 נְאֻֽם־פֶּ֣שַׁע לָֽ֖רָשָׁע בְּקֶ֣רֶב לִבִּ֑י אֵֽין־פַּ֥חַד אֱ֜לֹהִ֗ים לְנֶ֣גֶד עֵינָֽיו
3 כִּי־הֶֽחֱלִ֣יק אֵלָ֣יו בְּעֵינָ֑יו לִמְצֹ֖א עֲו‍ֹנ֣וֹ לִשְׂנֹֽא
4 דִּבְרֵי־פִ֖יו אָ֥וֶן וּמִרְמָ֑ה חָדַ֖ל לְהַשְׂכִּ֣יל לְהֵיטִֽיב
5 אָ֚וֶן | יַחְשֹׁ֗ב עַל־מִשְׁכָּ֫ב֥וֹ יִ֖תְיַצֵּב עַל־דֶּ֣רֶךְ לֹא־ט֑וֹב רָ֜֗ע לֹ֣א יִמְאָֽס
6 יְהֹוָה בְּהַשָּׁמַ֣יִם חַסְדֶּ֑ךָ אֱ֜מוּנָֽתְךָ֗ עַד־שְׁחָקִֽים
7 צִדְקָֽתְךָ֨ | כְּֽהַֽרְרֵי־אֵ֗ל מִ֖שְׁפָּטֶיךָ תְּה֣וֹם רַבָּ֑ה אָדָ֥ם וּבְהֵמָ֖ה תּוֹשִׁ֥יעַ יְהֹוָֽה
8 מַה־יָּקָ֥ר חַסְדְּךָ֗ אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים וּבְנֵ֥י אָדָ֑ם בְּצֵ֥ל כְּ֜נָפֶ֗יךָ יֶֽחֱסָיֽוּן
9 יִרְוְיֻן מִדֶּ֣שֶׁן בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְנַ֖חַל עֲדָנֶ֣יךָ תַשְׁקֵֽם
10 כִּֽי־עִ֖מְּךָ מְק֣וֹר חַיִּ֑ים בְּ֜אֽוֹרְךָ֗ נִרְאֶה־אֽוֹר
11 מְשֹׁ֣ךְ חַ֖סְדְּךָ לְיֹֽדְעֶ֑יךָ וְ֜צִדְקָֽתְךָ֗ לְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵֽב
12 אַל־תְּ֖בוֹאֵנִי רֶ֣גֶל גַּֽאֲוָ֑ה וְיַד־רְ֜שָׁעִ֗ים אַל־תְּנִדֵֽנִי
13 שָׁ֣ם נָ֖פְלוּ פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָ֑וֶן דֹּ֜ח֗וּ וְלֹא־יָ֥כְלוּ קֽוּם

King James Version[edit]

  1. The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
  2. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.
  3. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.
  4. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.
  5. Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
  6. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
  7. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
  8. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
  9. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
  10. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.
  11. Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.
  12. There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.



Verse 7 is one of three verses which make up the prayer of Tzidkatcha ("Your righteousness") recited after the Chazan's repetition of the Amidah during the Shabbat afternoon prayer.[12] In Sephardi traditions and Nusach Sefard, it is the first of the three verses recited in consecutive order: Psalms 36:7, 71:19, 119:42. In Nusach Ashkenaz, the order is reversed: Psalms 119:42, 71:19, 36:7.[13][a]

Verses 8–11 are recited after the wrapping of the tallit during the morning prayer service.[15]

Verse 9 is incorporated into the Shabbat evening table song Kol Mekadesh Shevii.[16]

Verse 10 is part of the Selichot prayers.[15]

Verse 12 is said during Maariv on Yom Kippur night.[15]

In the Siddur Sfas Emes, Psalm 36 is recited on behalf of a sick person.[15]

New Testament[edit]

Catholic Church[edit]

In the liturgy of the Mass, Psalm 36 is read on Wednesday of Week 16 in Ordinary Time, Year II.


The refrain and the first verse of the hymn "O Lord, thy mercy is sufficient so far as the sky is" is based on verses 6 and 7.[18]

Seal and books[edit]

The Vulgate version of verse 10, "In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen" ("In Thy light shall we see light") is part of the original heraldic seal of Columbia University, adopted in 1755.[19][20] Several books also take this phrase as their title, including the Valparaiso University prayerbook, In Thy Light We See Light,[21] the Bible study book In Thy Light I See Light,[22] and the Christian biography In His Light, I See Light Psalms 36:9: A Prodigal's Journey Into the Light.[23]

Hymns and musical settings[edit]

Hymns based on Psalm 36 include in English "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" and "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise".[18] The refrain and the first stanza of the German song "Herr, deine Güte reicht, so weit der Himmel ist" (Lord, your goodness extends as far as heaven)", published in 1965 with text by Gerhard Valentin and a melody by Herbert Beuerle, is based on verses from Psalm 36.[24] Maria Luise Thurmair wrote "Herr, deine Güt ist unbegrenzt" based on Psalm 36, published in 1971 with the melody of "O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß".[25]

The psalm and selected verses were set to music often. Thomas Ravenscroft wrote a setting for four-part choir in English on a French melody, published in his collection The Whole Booke of Psalmes in 1621, with the incipit "The wicked with his works unjust".[26] Heinrich Schütz set the psalm in German with the text from the Becker Psalter, Ich sag's von Grund meins Herzens frei (I say it freely from the depth of my heart), for choir as his SWV 133. George Garrett set the psalm for the Anglican Church, titled Psalm 36. Dixit injustus and the incipit "My heart showeth me the wickedness of the ungodly".[27] Richard Nance set the psalm for choir in 2002 on a commission by the American Choral Directors Association as the Raymond W. Brock memorial composition, published by Walton Music.[28]

The passage "How precious is your unfailing love, O God" was set by David Lee in a larger composition in 2012, and has been used as a Responsorial.[29]


  1. ^ Tzidkatcha is not recited if Shabbat falls on the day before Tisha B'Av.[14]


  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 35 (36) Archived 7 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Charles Spurgeon, Psalm 36 Treasury of David.
  3. ^ Henry, Matthew (2018). "Psalms 36". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  4. ^ Stuttgarter Erklärungsbibel, (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart, 1992) p 691.
  5. ^ "Psalm 36". Douay-Rheims Bible and Challoner Notes. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  6. ^ Baifus, Yaʻaḳov Yiśraʼel (1995). Longing for Dawn. Feldheim Publishers. p. 115. ISBN 9780873067195.
  7. ^ Sears, Rabbi David. "A Story from the Midrash". Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  8. ^ Bleich, J. David (1989). Contemporary Halakhic Problems. 3. KTAV Publishing House. p. 195. ISBN 9780881253153.
  9. ^ Schwartz, Richard H. (2012). Who Stole My Religion?: Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet. Lulu. p. 191. ISBN 9781105336461.
  10. ^ Saint Augustine (1988). The Fathers of the Church: Tractates on the Gospel of John 28–54. 88. CUA Press. pp. 62–63. ISBN 9780813200880.
  11. ^ Wasser, Gabe Gottes (PDF) (in German). Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Württemberg. 2006. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  12. ^ Abromowitz, Rabbi Jack (27 February 2013). "519. Tzidkascha Tzedek". Orthodox Union. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  13. ^ Nulman, Macy (1996). The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer: The Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rites (Reprint ed.). Jason Aronson. p. 327. ISBN 1461631246.
  14. ^ Ullman, Rabbi Yirmiyahu. "The Laws of Tisha B'Av". Ohr Somayach. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d Brauner, Reuven (2013). "Shimush Pesukim: Comprehensive Index to Liturgical and Ceremonial Uses of Biblical Verses and Passages" (PDF) (2nd ed.). p. 37. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  16. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur (3rd ed.). Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2003. p. 362. ISBN 089906650X.
  17. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 838. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Hymns for Psalm 36".
  19. ^ DeMar, Gary (2003). Liberty at Risk: Exposing the politics of plunder. American Vision. p. 222. ISBN 9780915815449.
  20. ^ "Columbia University at a Glance". Columbia University. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  21. ^ Karpenko, William O., ed. (2008). In Thy Light We See Light: The Valparaiso University Prayerbook. Valparaiso University. ISBN 0971229422.
  22. ^ McKenzie, Marvin (2012). In Thy Light, I See Light. ISBN 978-1-105-41878-5.
  23. ^ Pointer, Patti J. (2012). In His Light, I See Light Psalms 36:9: A Prodigal's Journey Into the Light.
  24. ^ "Herr, deine Güte reicht, so weit der Himmel ist" (in German). Christliche Liederdatenbank. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Herr, deine Güte ist unbegrenzt (L)" (in German). Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  26. ^ Free scores by The Whole Booke of Psalmes (Thomas Ravenscroft) in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  27. ^ "Psalm 36". Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Retrieved March 2016
  29. ^ "36A. Psalm 36:5-11 (A Responsorial Setting)". Retrieved 28 August 2018.

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