A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Psalm 36 in two versions

Sometimes it’s helpful to compare different translations of the Bible. Here are two versions of Psalm 36. We’d like to hear your responses.  Left justified text is the ESV; centered text is the Contemporary English Version.

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.

Sinners don’t respect God;
sin is all they think about.

2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

They like themselves too much
to hate their own sins or even to see them.

3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.

They tell deceitful lies,
and they don’t have the sense to live right.

4 He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

Those people stay awake, thinking up mischief,
and they follow the wrong road, refusing to turn from sin.

5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your love is faithful, Lord,
and even the clouds in the sky can depend on you.

6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD.

Your decisions are always fair, are firm like mountains,
deep like the sea,
and all people and animals are under your care.

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Your love is a treasure,
and everyone finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

You give your guests a feast in your house,
and you serve a tasty drink that flows like a river.

9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

The life-giving fountain belongs to you,
and your light gives light to each of us.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

Our Lord, keep showing love to everyone who knows you,
and use your power to save all whose thoughts please you.

11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.

Don’t let those proud and merciless people
kick me around or chase me away.

12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Look at those wicked people!
They are knocked down, never to get up again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Today is Pentecost Sunday in we which celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In Australia we are a day ahead of the USA and this blog runs on American time, so it is Sunday night for me as I’m finishing off this post. At my Lutheran service this morning, we sang the hymn Come Holy Spirit Come. [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] The words of this hymn are wonderful and they spoke to me as a survivor and as one who loves justice. It can be sung to the same tune as Crown Him With Many Crowns.


  1. Anonymous

    The CEV really states it bluntly. Thank you for the parallel reference. I don’t usually turn to the CEV.

  2. Grace

    It’s interesting: the ESV language is more beautiful and poetic, but the CEV has more impact and is easier to apply to my life. I have previously noticed that the first part of this psalm applied to my husband!

    I say applied because he has recently finished an abuser programme and seems to be making efforts (off and on) to restrain himself from lying, manipulating and lashing out spitefully in passive-aggressive ways. (He is emotionally but not physically abusive.) So I hope it won’t continue to apply. But time will tell! I think God has told me to persevere ATM.

    I would like to thank you, Jeff and the other contributors for all your great work. I love this blog. It’s especially wonderful to read posts by a pastor who ‘gets it’ when it comes to emotional abuse, as I wish mine did. I have recommended this website to him, and three books (Jeff’s, Leslie Vernick’s latest one and Lundy Bancroft’s), but I think he is too busy.

    I did give the recommendations to our trainee minister though. He said he would read them when he needed them, so that is something. I also asked my library to buy Lundy Bancroft’s book (having read your article on ‘How You Can Help’), but they said they couldn’t as it wasn’t sold in the UK (where I live) 😦

    I think you are doing very valuable work in increasing knowledge in the churches about abuse, especially among leaders, and in supporting victims. Thank you.

    • I also asked my library to buy Lundy Bancroft’s book (having read your article on ‘How You Can Help’), but they said they couldn’t as it wasn’t sold in the UK (where I live) 😦

      Good grief! I’ve never heard of a library saying that before! It is so silly, when one can buy books from anywhere thu online retailers. But I guess libraries have their own rules about where they purchase through. And that old UK/ USA divide in the book publishing world may be more rigid in the UK than it is in Australia.

      But thanks for trying!

      • Grace

        It is so silly. I asked them about buying online but they said they didn’t do that. I wonder why not. But since I posted my comment they have offered to buy the book as an e-book if that version is available.

  3. Kay

    I like the ESV version better, I think it describes the character of wicked people and the justice of God with more accuracy and depth.
    The thing I most dislike about the CEV version is the use of “sin” rather than evil or wickedness.
    That’s because in my experience “sin” is a word that’s used lightly by believers and unbelievers alike. To so many Christians I know, it doesn’t mean much at all. Some think sin is just making a mistake (they also think it’s only really a mistake if you get caught). Others think it’s merely about where you stand on popular moral issues. Or it’s just one of the magic words in the “sinner’s prayer”-the one that gets you into heaven if you repeat it after the church leader. I’m not being cynical, that really is the whole extent of many people’s faith, at least around here.
    But if you describe someone as being ”wicked” or “not rejecting evil” then people get what you mean. That’s what I love about the Psalms- in contrast to what you get from churches, there are no excuses made for evil people. And God is shown to be truly just, showing mercy to victims- not perpetrators at the victims’ expense.

    • That’s very interesting to hear your thoughts Kay. I hadn’t noticed how the CSV uses ‘sin’ in place of ‘evil’ or ‘wickedness’.

  4. Brenda R

    I have become partial to the ESV and this comparison hasn’t changed my mine. The CSV leaves out acknowledging Lord and God. It leaves the MOST HIGH as you and your.

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