BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
David likely penned this psalm during Saul’s reign, when there was a general decay of honesty and goodness. He, himself suffered by the treachery of false friends and sworn enemies. Perhaps David, in spirit, foresaw that some of his successors would bring things to as bad a conclusion as is here described.
Psalm 12 – A Psalm of David
Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbour; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, And the tongue that speaks proud things, Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; Who is lord over us?”
“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.” The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever. The wicked prowl on every side, When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
Perilous times shall come
Henry says – This psalm provides us with good thoughts for bad times. Ask the children of this world what makes the times bad, and they will tell you. Scarcity of money and the desolations of war, make the times bad. But scripture tells us that bad times are due to another cause. 2 Tim. 3:1; Perilous times shall come, for sin shall abound. These are the sort of times, like ours now, that David is complaining of.
In verse one he says: When the godly man ceases and the faithful fail. There is no true reverence without honesty. Godly men are faithful men, their word is as confirming as their oath. They are true to both God and man. Yet here they had ceased either by death or desertion. We hope he was under the same mistake as Elijah, who thought he was the only one left, when God had reserved 7000 for Himself (Rom. 11:3).
With flattering lips and a double heart
Bad times are when men become so degenerate that their consciences are unaffected by their lying lips. They spitefully scheme against their neighbours and yet still give a profession of friendship. They speak vanity (that is falsehood) with flattering lips and a double heart. They will kiss and kill with a smile to your face whilst cutting your throat. This is the devil’s complete image, a mixture of malice and falsehood.
The times are bad when an honest man does not know who to believe or trust. Nor dares put his confidence in a friend or guide, Mic. 7:5, 6; Jer. 9:4, 5. When the enemies of God and His people dare to destroy all that is just and say, as in verse 4, “With our tongue will we prevail against the cause of justice; our lips are our own and we may say what we will. For who is lord over us, either to restrain us or to call us to an account?” This speaks of proud conceit and a confidence in themselves.
It is as if they were independent and self-sufficient, irresistible in their power and therefore fit to be lawgivers themselves. They had an insolent contempt of God’s dominion—Our lips are our own (Who made man’s mouth, in Whose hand is his breath?). As if God had no authority to command or judge them: Who is Lord over us? Just as Pharaoh was in Exod. 5:1. This is as absurdity for He in whom we live, and move, and have our being is indisputably Lord over us.
When the poor and needy are oppressed and abused, then times are very bad. In verse 5 God takes notice of the oppression of the poor and the sighing of the needy. They are oppressed because they are poor and have all manner of wrong done to them. Being so oppressed they dare not speak for themselves, lest their defence should be made an offence. They sigh, secretly lamenting their troubles and pouring out their souls before God.
We have God to go to
Times are bad When the vilest of men are exalted to places of trust and power. Instead of setting laws against injustice and punishment toward the wicked, they protect them. Then the wicked walk on every side and seek to deceive and destroy others. They are not afraid nor ashamed of being discovered for there is none to check or control them. Bad men are the vilest of men even though they may be exalted in this world.
When times are this bad it is a comfort to know that we have a God to go to, from Whom we may ask and expect an answer for all our grievances. David begins this Psalm with (Ps. 12:1): “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases. All other helps and helpers fail therefore where shall we go but to You?” When faithful people cease and few seek to hold onto integrity or stand in the gap, it is time to cry, Help, Lord, it is time for You, Lord, to work.”
Now, I will arise
God will certainly punish and restrain their arrogance. They are above the control of men, but the righteous God will cut off all flattering lips. Those who give the traitor’s kiss and speak words softer then oil when war is in the heart. He will pluck out the tongue that speaks proud things against God and faith, Ps. 12:3.
God will, in due time, work deliverance for His oppressed people, and shelter them from the malicious designs of their oppressors. Verse 5: Now, I will arise, says the Lord. This promise of God is an answer to that petition. “I will help,” says God; “here I am, with a timely and effectual help.” When oppressors are in the height of their pride and they say, Who is lord over us? Then is God’s time to let them know, to their cost, that He is above them. When the oppressed are in the depth of their distress and are sighing, then is God’s time to appear for them.
The Words of the Lord are pure
There is a time fixed for the rescue of the oppressed. That time will come, and we may be sure it will be timely, Ps. 102:13. It is effectual: I will set him in safety, or in salvation, not only protect him, but restore him to his former prosperity, will bring him out into a wealthy place (Ps. 66:12). So that overall he shall lose nothing by their sufferings.
Though men are false, God is faithful. Though they are not to be trusted, God is. Men may speak pretence and flattery, but the Words of the Lord are pure Words (Ps. 12:6). Not only true but pure, like silver tried in a furnace of a crucible. This denotes the sincerity of God’s Word. It only has designs for our good. God’s Word is precious. It is of great and intrinsic value, like the purest silver. It has nothing in it to diminish it. Many proofs have been given of its power and truth. It has often been tried by all the saints in all the ages. But it has never deceived them nor frustrated their expectation. We may fully rely on the Words of God. Less confidence is to be put in men’s words but ever more assurance in God’s.
The Lord knows those who are His
God will secure His chosen remnant to Himself, however bad the times are. Verse 7: You shall preserve them from this generation forever. As long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men in it. They will threaten to ruin faith in God by wearing out the saints of the Most High, Dan. 7:25. But God alone will preserve His own people. He will keep them from being drawn away and from mingling with them and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those who are His. They shall be enabled to keep their integrity from being rooted out.
The church is built upon a rock so well fortified that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In the worst of times God has His remnant, and in every age will reserve to Himself a holy seed. In singing and praying over this Psalm, we must thank God that things are not worse than they are, but pray and hope that they will be better in God’s due time.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
True Faith True faith is more than just believing That Christ is merely living But that everything has been completed by Him So we may share in His giving. This new life, He has won for us Is to be enjoyed, here on earth Let us live in the glorious beauty of His gift of joyful rebirth. At times there will be darkness, Our eyes will weaken and grow dim But Christ alone is our strength May we enjoy faith through Him. By the grace of God Poured out upon us May we truly live our lives To the glory of Jesus. Let us live in all truth Firmly believing That faith is the way Of abundantly receiving. For where there is true faith There are undreamed of powers. The very joy of heaven Is ours; is ours. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. In You I live, move, and have my being. You are my indisputable Lord. In these times we find ourselves in, it is a comfort to know that I have You to go to, from Whom I may ask and expect an answer for all my griefs. When all other helps and helpers fail where shall I go but to You? May I be a part of the faithful few who seek to hold onto integrity and stand in the gap for others. I know that in due time You will work deliverance for Your oppressed people, and shelter them from the malicious designs of their oppressors.
You will arise. You will help with a timely and effectual help. For there is a fixed time for the rescue of the oppressed. That time will come. You will set him in safety, not only protect us, but restore us to our former prosperity. You will bring us out into a wealthy place. So that overall we shall lose nothing by our suffering.
Your Word has designs for our good
Though men be false, You are faithful. Man is not to be trusted, but You are. Men may speak pretence and flattery, but Your Words are pure Words, like silver tried in a furnace. Your Word has designs for our good. It is precious and of great and intrinsic value. Your Word has never deceived Your people nor frustrated their expectation. I may fully rely on it. May I put less confidence in men’s words but have an ever increasing assurance in Yours.
You will secure Your chosen remnant to Yourself, however bad the times are. You shall preserve me from this generation. Even if the wicked try to wear me out, You alone preserve me. You will keep me from being drawn away and from mingling with them and learning their works. For You know those who are Yours.
Your church is built upon a rock so well fortified that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In these times, You have Your remnant. In praying over this Psalm, I thank You that things are not worse than they are, but pray and hope that they will be better in due time. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
We have some free downloads of reference materials here