The Book of Psalms Chapter Twelve Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Truth In Love
Verse 1: “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.” There will be a point in time when the last person who ever will, places their trust in Jesus Christ, and then the end will come. We find a blessed phrase in 2 Peter 3:9-10 which includes: "The Lord... is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance," immediately followed by these additional words—"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat..." The "godly" are those who place their faith in the Lord, and He is the One who has done EVERYTHING to make us right with the Father. That's what God's holy angels and His holy people are excited about and praying for continually: That MORE will come to the Lord and be saved. But you can tell from the daily newspaper, as crazy people blow up buildings and ego-driven leaders attack other nations, and burglars enter homes, that "the faithful (are disappearing) from among the sons of men." Good news and bad news: The Lord's return is soon—but humanity's faith in the Lord is sadly waning.
Verse 2: "They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak." I don't know about you, but I am deeply troubled by the duplicity seen within the governments of this world. Lies are condoned on the basis of "diplomacy." Treaties are made but not followed. National leaders meet, flatter each other, but plan the other's destruction, all at the same time. It's duplicity for, "with a double heart they speak." It was true in David's time, as you can see in this song, this prayer he wrote as a way of publishing the problem so that all could know and pray—and it's true right now. "Falsehood" is the way of humanity. You can see it in games that depend on misleading your opponent in order to win, and treaties that are written as a way of fooling the country next to you. Pray for your leaders and the leaders of other countries, other companies, other people... as Paul taught in 1 Timothy 2:2, pray for all who are in high positions—your life and the lives of your loved ones may well depend on those prayers.
Verse 3: “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things;" This verse seems very harsh, and it is, but let's give it some thought. What would you think if you found out that the person, the nation who says kind things to you, to your nation, is plotting your destruction? You would not be pleased. The "flattering lips" of this world are dangerous. Paul the Apostle explores this problem in Ephesians 4:14-15, where he says that we are no longer to be misled "by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive..." And that is followed by: "Speaking the truth in love," an encouragement to simply tell the truth and do it in a kind, loving way. "The tongue that speaks great things" goes to the reason behind flattery—it's pride! To the prideful person, it's all about themselves, and they will manipulate you in order to get what they want.
Verse 4: “Who have said, ‘With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’” In humanity, confidence is highly praised, and there is indeed value in believing you can do it. The athlete who believes in that manner, thinking, "I can do this," is more likely to win than an opponent who thinks, "I can't." But we believe differently. We know that it is the LORD who has gifted us with whatever abilities we have. Instead of, "With our tongue we will prevail," we recognize that "this is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith" (1 John 5:4). And we can smile as we say, "thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57). David here is looking at our motives, and if it is pride that motivates you, watch out! Confidence can be good, but if pride underlies our actions, it will lead to questions like, "Who is lord over us?" Let's not look to ourselves for the victory, instead let's look to the Lord "who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." As Corrie Ten Boom said, "Jesus is Victor," in your life and mine. Not you, not me—He has done it!
Verse 5: “’Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he longs.’” People love heroes, especially those who rescue others who cannot save themselves. They are portrayed in movies and books, though we can often wonder why they are the "good guys" and their "enemies" the "bad guys" because neither of them seems particularly "good" in the way they do things. Today's heroes are mostly fictional, the invention of writers, and there's a reason for that. Real-life heroes are rare, and they are flawed at best, so we pretend. We need Someone REAL, Somebody we can depend on to do the right thing at just the right time. We have Him and His Name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He sees what is happening to the "afflicted," He hears "the groaning of the needy;" He brings the endangered to "safety." You may have trouble in this life, but Jesus Christ, on the cross, paid the price—He arose and has set the faithful into "the safety for which he longs." Through faith you are rescued, you are safe in Him.
Verse 6: “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.” Purity is rare to non-existent here in humanity. You think one thing and say another. When I was a little boy, my mother directly taught me that there are "black lies," which must be avoided, and "white lies," which she said, "help other people." She told me, "Don't say a lady is fat; tell her that the dress she is wearing is pretty." The problem for me as a boy, was that the truth for me became blurred. As a child, I began to lie in general, mostly to protect my own reputation, my feelings, my own standing in the community. Jesus revealed in John 14:6, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life," and then He continued, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." He is true, He is "pure," and when we receive Him through faith, His honesty, His purity, His love comes into us, changing us throughout our lives, enabling us to speak "the truth in love." As it is ever true for our Lord, it begins to happen in us. Love is not flattery or avoidance, it is the enabling of God within the faithful, who express both love and truth in the power of the Lord's Holy Spirit.
Verse 7: “You, O Lord, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever.” Just as God the Son was "afflicted" by the sins of humanity, God's people know affliction also. A thoughtful look at the large volume of work called "Foxe's Book of Martyrs" will confirm that life is not necessarily easy for the faithful. But the Lord "will keep them," as David observed and reported in this chapter of Psalms. David was God's prophet (Acts 2:29-30), for the Lord definitely spoke through him. We know from David's words in this verse that the Lord keeps us, preserves us, and does it—"forever." You might do well in this life or do poorly, but the outward results will only last for a time. God's work in us is much more—He heals us, forgives us, restores us and loves us—"forever." It makes sense to give your heart and life to the One who will "never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
Verse 8: “The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” You can see the kind of person we are supposed to be in places like Matthew 20:26, where Jesus said, "whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant." In other words, God gave us the gifts we have received, not so we will"strut" around and lord it over people, but instead we are to use what we have to help others. You can look around the world and see how power of all kinds corrupts those who have it. That's true of both religious and secular leaders. God views such behavior as "vileness" and we need to see His perspective. David's power led him into trouble on more than one occasion, but he had the good sense to recognize his limitations, confess His sins and pray for forgiveness, as you can see in places like Psalm 51. David was declared to be "a man after My own heart..." (Acts 13:33), and that's how we are to be. Our success is not because we are clever or strong, but instead we are to be those "who will do all My will," God's will, as that verse in Acts continues.
Father, I want to be a person after Your own heart, who will do Your will. I trust in You, Lord Jesus, for you can do in my life what is too great for me. Forgive me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that I might follow You. In Jesus Name. Amen.