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Bible croppedLast Sunday, I started a new series that could be called ‘Forbidden Bible Verses’.  The first entry cited 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-14. 

The passages in this series are those that we rarely hear anymore in church.  Either they’re too controversial or blatantly non-politically correct.  Today’s selection, Psalm 12, is taken from the New King James Version. 

My thanks to Antonella, a faithful reader, who suggested Psalm 12.  It is often subtitled as ‘Good Thoughts in Bad Times’, which could also perhaps describe Antonella’s view of life and faith when things are less than rosy. 

Psalm 12

To the Chief Musician. On an eight-stringed harp (sheminith). A Psalm of David.

 1 Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
         For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
         With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
         
 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
         And the tongue that speaks proud things,
 4 Who have said,
         “With our tongue we will prevail;
         Our lips are our own;
         Who is lord over us?”
         
 5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
         Now I will arise,” says the LORD;
         “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
         
 6 The words of the LORD are pure words,
         Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
         Purified seven times.
 7 You shall keep them, O LORD,
         You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
         
 8 The wicked prowl on every side,
         When vileness is exalted among the sons of men. 

 

It is thought that David wrote this psalm during the reign of Saul when many people were turning away from God towards dishonesty and moral decay: the ‘bad times’ referred to in the aforementioned subtitle.  David is beside himself and begs God for help.  ‘The godly man ceases’ and ‘the faithful disappear’ refer to death and the living deserting their faith.  Lies and flattery have become the order of the day, a sign that Satan is at work.  Who are David’s true friends?  Whom can he trust?

Pride and arrogance accompany these people: ‘Our lips are our own’.  They feel free to say whatever they want — who will stop them?  David prays that the punishment given to  traitors befalls them — the removal of lips and tongue so they can speak no more.  Of course, God’s just punishment of those who betray Him will be far worse.

The poor and needy are more than those in physical want.  They also include those who no longer feel able to speak for fear of being maligned or persecuted.  Therefore, the good suffer in silence and keep their own counsel.  Yet, the Lord knows they suffer and will rescue them.   

God’s word and assurance are ‘like silver tried’ — the purest and most genuine — of the greatest lasting value.  His word never deceives.   The word ‘seven’ may have a mystical connotation but would imply that God’s promises are like the most refined precious metal: they contain no dross. 

Some scholars have interpreted the final verse as more of a question, ‘How can filth rise so high as to appear to be on the same level as the faithful?’  Yet, the psalmist has no doubt in verse 7 that God will care for and exalt those who love Him and their descendants forever.

You can read further analysis of Psalm 12 here and here.

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