Many people have a worldview that sees mankind as basically and naturally good. They see man as a type of “Frankenstein” that was created as innocent and good but was mistreated and turned out evil. Those who hold to the worldview of pantheism see man as good, even “god-like”, whose basic problem is lack of enlightenment. Those who hold to the worldview of naturalism see man as basically a good, highly-evolved animal who does bad things in response to the environment around him. Their basic problem is a lack of “fair” social or economic equality. Many more views could be said, yet we can summarize that every non-Christian worldview sees man as basically good. However, the Bible reveals that mankind is bad by nature.
In Psalm 36, we see the badness of man, the goodness of God, and the satisfaction that is given to those who know God. What is man’s basic problem? Verse 1 tells us that man’s basic problem is that “there is no fear of God before his eyes.” The foundation of man’s evil character is his lack of giving God the due respect and reverence that He deserves. G. Campbell Morgan said about man that “…he…enthrones himself at the centre of his own being, and goes in the way of wickedness in thought and action.” Notice the description that follows of the man who doesn’t fear God: “…he flattereth himself in his own eyes…his words are iniquity and deceit…he hath left off to be wise…he deviseth mischief…he setteth himself in a way that is not good…he abhorreth not evil” (vv. 2-4). The man that refuses to admire God turns to self-adulation. He sees himself as big and God as small. He boasts in his “goodness” and turns a blind eye to his sin.
In contrast, however, to the wickedness of man is the goodness of God. In vv. 5-7, David describes the attributes of God- His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His judgments, His lovingkindness. David uses the biggest things he can think of from an earthly perspective to describe God’s attributes- the heavens, the clouds, the mountains, the great deep of the ocean.
God’s goodness is especially seen in how He acts towards his own children. God manifests His lovingkindess to His children by providing a place of rest and protection “…under the shadow of [His] wings” (v. 7). The safest place in the universe is provided under the care and protection of an infinitely good God who overshadows all who will trust in Him. The most “abundantly satisfied” man, woman, or child in the world is the one who finds their source of hope, confidence, provision, care, and delight in the shadow of God’s wing, in the fatness of God’s house, in river of God’s pleasure, in the fountain of God’s life, and in the fullness of God’s light (vv. 7-9).