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Summary: The opening words suggest that this psalm is an appeal for help during bad times when evil men dominate. There are times when sin seems rampant, sweeping all before it like a tidal wave.

March 3, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 12

Title: To the chief Musician. Upon the Sheminith*, A Psalm of David.

*Sheminith (eighth), a musical term found in the title of (Psalms 6:1). A similar direction is found in the title of (Psalms 12:1) Comp. 1Chr 15:21. It seems most probable that Sheminith denotes a certain air known as the eighth, or a certain key in which the psalm was to be sung. (Smith's Bible Dictionary)

Psalm 12 (NKJV)

1 To the Chief Musician. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David. 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.

Introduction

The opening words suggest that this psalm is an appeal for help during bad times when evil men dominate. There are times when sin seems rampant, sweeping all before it like a tidal wave. The great and godly men are taken away one by one, and the ungodly reign supreme, and no help is available from man. It is then that we must turn to God and cry out with the shout that broke from Peter’s lips as he began to sink in the sea. It is a very practical cry, both from its brevity and its comprehensiveness—Help Lord! The Prophet Micah may have had this psalm in mind when he wrote these words: “The faithful man has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; every man hunts his brother with a net” (Micah 7:2).

Although this psalm belongs to the large group of laments over the success of evildoers (e.g. Ps. 7; 10; 17; 25; 37), its theme is more specialized than some. The activity of the wicked is primarily felt by the innocent and godly and occurs in the realm of speech, that is, the falsification and perversion of the gift of language. Hence, the intervention of the Lord must be not only in deeds but in words. The poem sets the effective purity of God’s Word over against the bogus claims of vain lips, and adds yet further testimony to the serious view the Bible takes on sins of speech.

This psalm expresses David’s confidence in the untarnished words of God that assure him that He will deliver those who seek His salvation. This expression of confidence came in the midst of a culture that oppressed the weak with deception. The setting of the psalm is unknown, but many events in the life of David could have prompted such a psalm (1 Sam. 23:11, 19; 26:19), and the language of the psalm is general enough to fit several situations.

In politics, new taxes are “revenue enhancements,” and in military jargon, “retreat” is “backloading of augmentation personnel.” If, while you’re backloading, you get shot, the bullet hole is “a ballistically induced aperture in the subcutaneous environment.” This kind of artificial evasive language is known as “double-speak” and its popularity in almost every area of human life is evidence that language and communication are in serious trouble. Our ability to speak and write words is a precious gift of God, and this psalm deals with the right and wrong use of that gift.

This psalm will have its final fulfillment in the days of the Tribulation which will come upon Israel’s godly remnant—also upon godly Gentiles—in that day. In the opening verses we will find a description of the apostasy in those days. You see, there is to be an apostasy in Israel as well as in the church.

Commentary

1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.

Society had become totally corrupt. Worthless and base men were in positions of influence and power, so that wickedness was openly approved of. There seemed to be no trustworthy, honest people on whom the psalmist could trust. Forget God and you get a society in which men cannot trust each other, and which therefore ultimately collapses.

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