John T. Willis

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Pervasive Sins of Lying and Flattery--Psalm 12

The Superscription of Psalm 12 reads: "To the leader: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David." This superscription gives no clear information about the background. In fact, all the superscriptions of the Psalter are probably later additions. Any student or reader of the Bible should focus on the text of each psalm.

Psalm 12 contains only eight verses. The psalmist is very perturbed because the great majority of people on earth [his word is "humankind"--verses 1, 8] are ungodly, utter lies, use flattering lips, and make great boasts. He confidently declares that Yahweh will protect and guard the minority, the righteous. Psalm 12 naturally falls into four parts, each containing two verses.

I. The Psalmist prays for Yahweh for Help. Psalm 12:1-2.
    a. This entire psalm begins with the plea: "Help, O Lord." All God's people are helpless. They desperately need God's help. We are all dependent people. The psalmist is fully aware of this situation. 12:1a.
    b. In desperation, the psalmist announces "there is no longer ANYONE who is GODLY." The faithful have disappeared from humankind. In one sense this is certainly true. Paul said: "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But this psalmist is using hyperbolic language to emphasize how strong ungodly prevail on earth. Verse 7 makes it very clear that the psalmist DOES assume there are godly people ["us"] whom Yahweh protects and guards. 12:1b-c.
    c. The psalmist correctly observes that the majority of humankind "utter LIES to EACH OTHER," and speak with "flattering lips and a double heart." We all wear masks, and try to hide who we really are. It is striking that the name for all God's people is JACOB, which means "Supplanter, Deceiver, One who Takes by the Heel, Obtaining things which actually belong to others." See Genesis 25:26; Hoses 12:3, 7; Jeremiah 9:2-9. 12:2.

II. The Psalmist utters an Imprecation against those who lie and flatter. Psalm 12:3-4.
     a. Instead of taking things into his own hands, the psalmist turns to Yahweh, and asks Yahweh to cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts. 12:3.
     b. Flatterers and boasters declare: With OUR tongues we will prevail; OUR lips are OUR OWN-- who is OUR master. 12:4.

III. Yahweh replies to Flatterers, Liars, and Boasters. Psalm 12:5-6.
       a. The psalmist quotes the reply of Yahweh: "I will rise up" because the poor are despoiled and the needy groan, and "I will place them in the safety for which they belong." 12:5.
       b. The psalmist comments: Yahweh's promises are pure, silver refined in the furnace seven times. 12:6.

IV. Finally, Yahweh returns to Prayer to Yahweh to protect the righteous. Psalm 12:7-8.
      a. The psalmist says to Yahweh: YOU will protect us and guard us from this sinful generation. 12:7.
      b. This is a very important assurance because the wicked prowl on every side as vileness is exalted among humankind. 12:8.

Share YOUR background and experiences with others and reversals and fears and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home