“False and Faithful Words”
12:1 “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men”
“As the Psalm opens, it is as though the man of God has looked up to find himself surrounded, and his allies gone. Where another man, in a minority of one, might have rethought his position, David signals for help. He is not retreating” (Psalms 1-72, Derek Kidner, p. 75). David feels isolated, as other godly men have felt (1 Kings 19:10), he feels that the righteous as a vanishing breed. As one gets older this can be a common experience for the faithful, when they realize that the culture has changed drastically around them.
12:2 “They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak”
Here is what David sees happening among the unrighteous. Their words are false. “Empty talk, smooth talk and double talk are here, followed in verses 3f. by the boasters, whose policy sums up that of their fellows: to manipulate the hearer rather than communicate with him. Flattering talk is literally ‘smooth’: all the deadlier for the pleasure it gives and the addiction it creates (for its comfort becomes indispensible), as the latter history of Israel will show (Isaiah 30:10). A double heart significantly traces the double talk to its source in ‘double think’ – for the deceiver becomes one of his own victims, with no truth to unite his character” (Kidner, p. 75).
They Speak Falsehood
Lying has become both common and acceptable. People expect others to lie to them. Words are not used to advance the truth, but to advance their own evil agendas. The Hebrew word for falsehood here includes distortion of the truth, and it also includes the idea of “emptiness”, which brings with it the added ideas of insincerity and irresponsibility. Thus, communication has been cheapened and corroded into meaningless chit-chat and empty conversations that go nowhere. In addition, lies are accepted or allowed to go unchallenged. The baby is renamed a fetus, then only tissue, so no one gets disturbed about the practice of abortion. Even the term abortion is renamed and called a “surgical procedure”, or even worse, a heroic exercise if someone’s right of choice. Then there are all the lies in the name of God, “The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name” (Jeremiah 14:14) Notice the mutual lying in the verse, it is almost as if people want to be lied to, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so!” (Jeremiah 5:31)
With Flattering Lips
“People flatter others for bad purposes – to get something out of them, deceive them, or cheat them” (Psalms 1-41, James Montgomery Boice, p. 99). The New Testament often links flattery with the practices of false teachers, “and in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2 Peter 2:3); “They speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” (Jude 16); “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires” (2 Peter 2:18).
12:3-4 “The tongue that speaks great things; who have said, ‘With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’”
Here are people who really believe that they will prevail, that they will triumph with their lies and propaganda. It appears that they are justifying their lies that claiming that in the end deceit wins. “The second claims autonomy: ‘We have the right to say anything we please’. The last boast means, ‘And if we lie when we speak, who is there who can calls us to account?’ It is a denial of any higher standard or accountability” (Boice, p. 101).
12:3 “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips”:
Notice that the Bible takes big talkers seriously, for only the Lord can bring such to an end. The Bible does not underrate the power or influence of arrogant human speech, and neither should we. Such arrogance speech can destroy entire civilizations or cast the entire world into war (James 3:5), and lead millions to hell. False doctrine is often linked with such arrogance, “For speaking out arrogant words” (2 Peter 2:18); “Despise authority” (2:10); “They do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties” (2:10). David understands the damage that is caused by such arrogance and for David, “right relationships are faithful or truthful relationships built on the covenant. Now, however, his world is filled with deceivers who talk smoothly and never let people know their real selves” (Psalms 1-72, Donald Williams, p. 104).
12:5 “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”
God indeed sees the damage that is done by liars, flatterers, deceivers and boasters. He sees the people who have been manipulated or wronged, and He sees the overall carnage. Consider the word, “devastation”. Man always tries to convince himself that lying and deception only causes a few problems, but God sees the “devastation”. God sees the real cost, lives destroyed and souls lost. Yet God always has a special place, and a place of safety for those who “long” or “yearn” for truth and for Him. God loves those who yearn for His truth (Psalm 19:10), and who long for His judgment, “Our Lord come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22); “But also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
The Words of the Lord
12:6 “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times”
Here we are given a stark contrast between the words of the flatterers and boasters with the words found in Scripture.
No side effects
Filled with Meaning
He will tell you the truth
He cares about your soul
Harmful in all points
Intended to Confuse
Flatter unworthy men
They will lie to you
They do not care
Liars are offended when their words are questioned or tried, but God’s word has been tested, tested and tested again by generations of skeptics. Time Magazine, in a cover story acknowledged this some years ago, “After more than two centuries of facing the heaviest guns that could be brought to bear for the siege. Even on the critics’ own terms – historical fact – the Scriptures seem more acceptable now then when the rationalists began the attack” (Time, December 30, 1974, p. 41).
The War Continues
12:7 “Thou, O Lord, will, keep them; Thou preserve him from this generation forever”
On the one hand God will preserve and keep those who draw near to Him. We may stand very much alone in our own generation, but staying close to God will enable us to escape from the errors of our generation. We can stay away from getting catch up in both the mess of our times and the condemnation coming upon our times.
12:8 “The wicked strut about on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men”
The word “strut about” “suggests walking openly about, not merely prowling. The battle of words is no side-issue: a weakness here, and the enemy is in” (Kidner, p. 76). The verse is extremely revealing. If we live in a country and among a generation in which the wicked are confident, and confident that they can tell the word about their wickedness and not be censured, then we already know something,vileness is being exalted. “Vileness” is shameless excess, when sin is glamourized, and which is cheap and worthless. The values of empty-headed people. When this is the “atmosphere” of the times, then the wicked will be on the hunt, they will try to take advantage of the opening and run with their evil. “The blatantly wicked will not be slow to seize their chance and flaunt themselves” (Kidner, p. 76). The tolerance of evil does not mean that we are more loving or enlightened, rather it simply means that vileness is exalted, and lying is prevalent among the sons of men. Yet God still rules and His word is true.