Psalm 12:1-8

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

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

They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
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.

For the heading, see notes on Psalms 3 and 4.

A lament psalm

Violence and falsehood are Satan’s two great weapons against the servants of God. The violence of the False Messiah is, accordingly, the theme of Psalms 11 and 13, and his falsehood, the theme of Psalms 12 and 14. — Williams, page 304

The activity of the wicked is primarily felt by the innocent and godly as being in the realm of speech, i.e., the falsification and perversion of the divine gift of language. Hence the intervention of the Lord must be not only in deeds but in words. — Guthrie, page 458

A series of contrasts appear. The first verse contrasts with the eighth; the second with the sixth; the third with the seventh; and the fourth with the fifth. — Williams, page 305

double heart (v.2) = lit. “a heart and a heart” — deceit.

By virtue of the implied contrast between verses 1 and 2, the godly/faithful are not simply those who do what God requires, but those who strive to do so with a whole — that is, with a devoted and sincerely “faith-filled” — heart. As depicted in the Old Testament, both one’s thoughts and one’s words proceed from the heart (i.e., the “heart” and “mind,” as we distinguish them, are presented as one item, not two) and hence one who thinks one thing and says or does another is described as having “two hearts,” or “a double heart.”

The notion of deceit and double mindedness is further underscored by the statement in verse 2, “they speak false hood to one another” (lit., “a man towards his neighbor”), which hearkens to the phraseology of the ninth commandment in Deuteronomy 5:20: “You shall not bear false witness (lit. “a witness of falsehood”) towards your neighbor.” — Wechsler, page 48.

I think it’s important to keep in mind the greater dispensational perspective when reading these psalms. Remember that David wrote his psalms  during the dispensation of law which was given by God to prove that all men are guilty and unable to keep the law. The Holy Spirit inspired him to write words that would provide hope for those living in Old Testament Israel, but also that would provide hope for those living during the Tribulation. At that time, the saved in Israel will have the law written on their hearts and will be able to keep it. Part of David’s assurance here, I think, is that those days are coming.

As for the heart of the believer, contrast what David says here with what Paul says in Romans 7:15-25 about sin in the believer during the dispensation of grace.

By his appeal “may the Lord …” (v.3) David is not addressing whether, but when God will bring deliverance — a deliverance which David desired to be nothing less than the final deliverance attending the establishment of God’s kingdom, as indicated by (1) the unrestricted expression “all flattering lips” and (2) the verbatim repetition of the words “‘Now I will arise,’ says the Lord” in Isaiah 33:10, in a clearly eschatological context, as well as the closely parallel phraseology of God’s ensuing declaration”I will establish him in the deliverance (“I will set him in the safety” for which he longs” and the description of His coming kingdom in Isaiah 26:1: “In that day … He will establish deliverance by walls and bulwarks …”) — Wechsler, page 49

purified seven times (v.6) — superlative purity, the highest possible degree of purity — In Scripture, “seven” indicates purity and completion.

you shall preserve them (v.7) — This promise does not guarantee the preservation of the godly from affliction and oppression by the wicked in this life (which can hardly be reconciles with a time frame of “forever”), but rather their preservation from the fate of the wicked, as the phraseologically parallel passages in Psalms 37:28 and 97:10 make clear. — Wechsler, pages 49-50

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