Reach for the Sky
An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 36
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: 23) (Hypocrites say lies.)
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
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.
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 Gods 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.
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)
Visit our website: