Psalm 12 - The Insincerity of Man and the Sincerity of God
This is another Psalm that was likely written during the time when Saul was persecuting David. I don't think it's possible for us to imagine how tough this had to have been on David.
He had been anointed the next king of Israel over Jonathan, heir to Saul. Saul understood that he'd fallen from God's favor, and likely knew that David was chosen by God to assume the throne at his passing.
To make matters worse, the people loved David, even praising him above Saul. It's easy to see the envy, the jealousy that consumed Saul. Saul's rage - jealousy mirrors the rage - jealousy of the world against the righteous.
David fled Saul, not out of fear, but because he did not want to kill the Lord's anointed. God has ordained the number of days that each of us will live, and David rightfully understood that it was not up to him to claim the throne over God's chosen people through violence.
Instead he escaped into the wilderness, living on the run, and became the subject of scorn (internal evidence). This is likely the period of David's life out of which comes this Psalm, which reads like a prayer from David to God.
"Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak."
This Psalm establishes the insincerity of man and the sincerity of God! The psalmist begs help of God, because there were no one he could trust.
The passage begins with an expression of grief., as the writer is reveals raw emotion. For at the moment of this writing, he can't find even one faithful soul. His concern is; Where are all the faithful people? Have they died? Have they ceased the activity of faith? Where are they?
This is similar to an expression of sorrow written by Micah. "The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net,"
(Micah 7:2). And of Elijah.
Now it may be argued, that the writer is exaggerating. Never the less the feeling is real.
God's people today must often feel this way. As people of God, we place great value on behavior expressive of honesty, personal purity, modesty, generosity, prayer. In other words, we expect folk to act like there is a God in the world.
But, usually we see these things either perverted, debated or ignored. We see "vileness is exalted among the sons of men (verse 8)." We observe the repulsive behaviors Paul documented in Romans one. We are led by the sight of sin to complain that the faithful fail, the godly cease. Every child of God lives with the sad knowledge of the absence of godliness all around us.
In David's case, he also seems to have experienced the lying hearts of those who said they were loyal to him. The same crowd that shouted out their praise for him. "David has slain his ten thousands" can not now be seen or found! The clamor of his name was no more, and he could see the love that people have for their own safety over take their love for a champion who had won battles on their behalf.
It's like sports fans. They love you when catch that ball, score that touchdown. But they forget about you when your hurt. Humans have short memories!
So David looked for his salvation from God, who cannot lie and who does not flatter or say one thing and do another. God is not fickle. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail( talk our way out?); our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
David describes what he saw that caused his grief: "They speak idly everyone with his neighbor (gossip); with flattering lips (insincerity) and a double heart (two faced - double minded) they speak. (What?)
What people say reveals who they are, because the tongue is governed by the heart (Matt. 12:34). The writer of Psalms 12 arrives at the conclusion, "the godly man ceases," because he heard how people were talking - their conversation revealed their character. Our talk reveals our heart (see also Jas. 1:26).
Falsehood uttered reveals falsehood within. Idle talk says the heart is idle. Boasting proves pride. And notice the claim of verbal victory and self-rule: "...We will prevail, who is lord over us?"
The lamentation of verse 1 seems justified by the speech and behavior described in verses 2-4 and 8.
True to his nature, David looked to God, not only to save him in his time of grief, but to be the one to silence those who would bring him to destruction with false promises and untruthful claims.
It's striking that the tone of these flatterers was such that they claimed their liberty based on their mastery of their lips. Isn't it from out of the heart that the lips speak? Those who think they can master their lips without first mastering their hearts are fools.
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
God replies to the complaint of the faithful with a promise to give relief to the victims of the sinful behavior mentioned. God has never overlooked a victim! He doesn't check us with, as to when and how to react. We cannot dictate to God, set deadlines or demand that He use the methods we think best. He comes to the rescue of those who are victims of the treachery of man.
God responds to the writer's call for help. He states His intent to arise and deliver the victims to safety. In those days metal was tried and purified with fire. A furnace would be dug in the earth, an intense fire built, to test and purify silver. The process was repeated until there was no doubt, the product was genuine silver.
The point of the illustration is, the words of the Lord are "perfectly pure." No falsehood mixed in; no empty flatter; no false promises; no guile or deception in even trace amounts! "The words of the Lord are pure words."
Everything is just exactly as God represents it. He "cannot lie," (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18). We can enjoy great and absolute consolation in the words of God. His promises give us real and blessed assurance that men try to imitate but cannot duplicate.
The Word of God has no other purpose, no other intent, than to do us the highest eternal good. Psalm 12 marks the difference between the insincerity of man and the absolute sincerity of God.
The sum total of divine truth is given for our good. But we have to act on the Word. We must be doers of the Word!
Verse 8 (NIV)
The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
This prayer of David ends as he acknowledges the value of the Lord's promise to guard him from the plots of sinful men. He has brought his fear before God and found fear to be powerless to hold a grip on him as he looked to the hope within him from God.
We need to remember that the wicked do prowl on every side even today. One needs only to open their eyes to see that vileness is indeed exalted and celebrated in every direction today while those who value chastity and seek the righteousness of Christ are considered fools.
To this dying world, the gospel is foolishness! But it is this very foolishness that we cling to for our hope!
As long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men. But all God's people are in the hands of Christ our Savior. No one can pluck us out of the ark of safety.
We are being established on the Rock and are safe, despite temptation and/or persecution.