Reach for the Sky

Psalm 36

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 36

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.


Jesus said, "When it is evening and the sky is red you say, It will be good weather. In the morning when the sky is red and dark you say, It will be very bad weather. You are hypocrites. You can understand the signs in the sky. Can you not understand the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16: 2–3) (Hypocrites say lies.)

Psalm 36

  (This is) for the music leader.
 (He is) the servant of the LORD.
 (It is) for David.

v1 – v4   The godless man does not obey (God).
  This tells me that: he is not afraid of God
 ·  he does not see (that this matters)

(v2)   ·  he tells himself that (God) will not see the bad things (that he does)
 ·  (he thinks that God) will not hate these bad things

(v3)   ·  he says things that are bad and not true
 ·  he has stopped being honest
 ·  he does not do anything good

(v4)   ·  he makes bad plans on his bed (at night)
 ·  he decides not to do things in a good way
 ·  he does not turn away from doing wrong things

v5   LORD, your kind love is (as high) as the skies.
  Your truth reaches the clouds.

v6   Your goodness is like strong mountains.
  Your justice is like a deep sea.
  LORD, you make men and animals safe.

v7   God, your kind love has great value.
  The children of men are safe under the shadow of your wings.

v8   There is enough in your house to give them all that they need.
  You give them all a drink of pleasure from your river,

v9   because you have waters that give life.
  In your light we will see light.

v10   Go on giving your kind love to the people that know you.
  Give your goodness to the people that have clean hearts.

v11   Do not let people that walk proudly hurt me.
  Do not let bad people make me run away.

v12   The people that did bad things lay there, where they fell.
  (Somebody) knocked them down and they cannot get up again.

Word list

goodness ~ what is right and good, the goodness of God is righteousness

wings ~ the arms of a bird: it uses them to fly

proudly ~ as if you are better than other people

The Story of Psalm 36

We do not know when David wrote Psalm 36. Someone else may have written it and given it to David. David then gave it to the servant of God that was the leader of the music.

What Psalm 36 means

Verses 1 – 4: These verses are difficult to translate. Some Christians think that David is writing about himself. We all have a bad part. Saint Paul called this bad part "the old man" in us. It makes the Christian life difficult for us. Other Christians think that David is writing about other people. It does not matter who is right. Even very good people sometimes have bad thoughts like those in verses 1 – 4.

In verse 2 the Bible does not say who "he" is. When we think it is God, we put it in brackets: (God). If "he" means the bad man in this verse, then the bad man will not believe that he has done wrong.

Verses 1 and 2 tell us about the inside of a bad person. That is the part that we cannot see. Verses 3 and 4 tell us about what he does. That is the part that everyone can see.

Verses 5 – 9: This is all about God. It tells us to look at our world. We can see clouds in the sky. We can see mountains and seas. These all give us help to remember what God is like. When we see the sky, we must remember his kind love. When we see the clouds in the sky we must remember his truth. In this psalm this means that God will do what he promised. He will keep his promises. Another way to say this is that God will be faithful. When we see a mountain we must remember that God is good. He is more than good, God is righteous. We have a special word for the goodness of God. It is righteousness. It means that God always does what is right, never what is wrong. And when we look at the sea we must remember the justice of God. Justice means that in the end what is right and fair will happen, not what is wrong and not fair. Here is a table to help us:

What we see

What we remember about God when we see them





His kind love

God is faithful and keeps his promises

God is righteous and does what is good

His justice, so that God does what is fair

Part of verse 9 is difficult to understand: "In your light we will see light". We need light to see things that are in our world. We need special light from God to see the things that are in God’s world.

Verses 10 – 12: Here David prayed that God would give his kind love and goodness to the people that know God. He probably meant the other things in the table also. He also prayed that bad people would not stop God doing this.

There are bad people all around us. If we know God and love him then we do

not want bad people to stop God doing this. We must pray as David prayed.

"Walk proudly" in Hebrew is "the foot of pride". People with feet of pride go through life (or walk through life) thinking that they are better than God. The psalm ends by telling us what will happen to bad people. One day they will fall down and never get up again. God will decide when this will happen.

Something to do

If you have a New Testament, read Romans 2 and 3. Paul uses Psalm 36 there to tell us that everyone has bad thoughts, not just very bad people. Therefore, everyone must ask God for help.


© 2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

January 2001

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