Daily Fiber
for the soul

by Edward E. Thomason

PSALM 12
SLICE ONE: LEARNING
(feed your head)

The "crust" of the matter:
This Psalm gives a contrast between the false words of men and the truth of God, between the unfaithfulness of men and the faithfulness of God. It has been suggested that this Psalm furnishes the reader "good thoughts for bad times," which is not a bad title for this Psalm.

Ingredients this serving:
David wrote this Psalm while being persecuted by Saul who often flattered him with his tongue, as being a better man than he and promising that he would not harm him, and then turning from his promises and hunting him like a pigeon who had flown to the mountains.

Ps 12:1-2 A plea for help
Ps 12:3-8 A promise of help

The plea for help:

Lesson: To whom will we turn when we are in trouble if not the Lord? How often have we ourselves uttered the simple prayer: "Help Lord?" There are times when no other words will suffice. We utter them in times of labor, learning, suffering, fighting, living and dying.

Ps 12:1-2 Help, Lord; for the godly man 

 

ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

Comments to munch on:
At times it may seem that the godly of this world are declining in number. We wonder, where are the moral majority, if there be such a thing? Death is a noble departure for the godly, but many conform to this world (Romans 12:2) and are entangled in the cares and entrapments of this world. There may be times when it seems that all have turned aside from following the Lord. It may seem that everyone is speaking falsehoods with his neighbor, flattering one another with their words while thinking evil toward them in their hearts.

1. In reference to verse 1, George Home once said: "When men cease to be faithful to God, no one should expect them to be faithful to one another." Is this true? Discuss how honor to God and honesty toward our fellow men seem to decline together. Why is this true?
2. There is a connection between flattery and treachery. It has been said that it is sometimes difficult to know when flattery is sincere. A wolf looks like a dog and a flatterer may resemble a friend, but both can bite you while smiling. Discuss the dangers of flattery.
3. Those with two hearts, attempt to serve two masters and sail with every wind. What are some terms that might be used to describe a double hearted person? Discuss why being double hearted is dangerous. (Cf., James 1:8 etc.)

The promise of help:

Lesson: The remainder of the Psalm seems to be an affirmation of how David expects the Lord to respond .

Ps 12:3-5 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? 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.

Comments to munch on:

The easy yoke of God, seems to gall the shoulders of the proud. They ask, "Who is Lord over us?" Men who refuse to bridle their tongues, should be warned that the Lord will "cut off" such tongues. We will all have to someday give an account of the things we have said. (cf., Matthew 12:36, Romans 14:12.)

1. Since our bodies belong to God (according to I Cor. 6:20), does that not include our tongues? Do we really have the right, and liberty to say whatever vile or corrupt thing we wish to say with out consequence? (Cf., James 1:26-27, 3:2-16)
2. Tyrants and oppressors are often like wolves "huffing and puffing" at the door of the poor and needy. Which is stronger: The power, wealth, and courts of the oppressors or the sighs and groans of the oppressed which are heard by the Lord? (A tear does not make noise, but God hears weeping. Cf., Psalm 6:8, James 5:4.)

Ps 12:6-8 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. The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

Comments to munch on:
In sharp contrast to the vain and unreliable words of the wicked, the words and wisdom of the Lord are "pure." (James 3:17). Like silver that has been repeatedly melted by heat until it is 100% pure, Godís word is like that from the moment it leaves his mouth. When he makes a promise, men can rely upon it as being true. David is saying that even though wicked men lie and oppress, the righteous can trust in God. He will keep and preserve his own, like a good Shepherd who cares for his lambs.

1. Contrast the word of God with the words of men. Men may with intent or out of ignorance misguide and misdirect, but the scripture is always true. This is why we must continue to go back to the fount of scripture where the water is always clear and untainted by generations of manís opinions and dogmas. (Cf., James 1:21-25).
2. Even if the wicked surround us and walk on every side of us, Godís people must rise above their generation as mountains rise above the clouds. Men and women of God must stand in purity, pointing toward heaven, even when the world around them seems focused only on themselves. Can the Lord help us today to rise above the selfishness and materialistic nature of our generation? Should we be asking for his help?

SLICE TWO: LIVING
(nourish your soul)

1. We have a tendency to think that "bad times" are when the economy is failing, or when we are at war or facing natural disasters. But God seems to be indicating that bad times are when the godly and faithful are declining in number, when men are dishonest and deceptive in their speech, when the poor are oppressed and when vile men are lifted up to positions of leadership and esteem (see v. 8). Discuss the danger of thinking all is well when the economy is well while the integrity and morality of our nation is declining. (If time permits read 2 Tim 3:1ff for a list of what God considers "bad or perilous times.")
2. When it seems that times are bad, how can the righteous comfort themselves? Is there comfort in prayer? (Cf., James 5:13).

A FEW MORE CRUMBS
(fragments overlooked)

Lesson:
The Psalmist ends with this thought: "The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted." The word "exalted" can mean to lift up. When those we lift up as our leaders become vile, it is not long until the wicked seem to surround us. Shouldnít we expect integrity among our leaders?

Edward Thomason - copyright © 2000