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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 12

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries

Verse 1



The title we have selected here is from Arnold B. Rhodes.[1] The age of David was in some ways the Golden Age of Israel, but here is a revelation that the moral condition of society as a whole was one of the utmost degeneracy.

Psalms 12:1-2

"Help, Jehovah; for the godly man ceaseth;

For the faithful fail from among the children of men.

They speak falsehood everyone with his neighbor:

With flattering lips and a double heart, do they speak."

It would seem that the small remnant of the righteous which always existed in Israel was here forgotten in these first two verses, or perhaps we have merely an hyperbole for the sake of emphasis.

The universality of wickedness among the rebellious sons of Adam has been throughout human history a frequently recurring phenomenon. The particular type of immorality that existed in the situation described here seems to have been that of speech. An entire society had completely lost control of their tongues. Falsehood, flattery, deceit, slander, gossip, hypocrisy, derogation, belittling, discrediting, libel, calumniation, traducement, backbiting, cheating, misleading, tricking, hoaxing, and victimizing are just a few of the sins of the tongue; and the three particular ones mentioned in these two verses are to be understood merely as examples of the countless outrages perpetrated by tongues out of control.

"These two verses are a statement of the prevailing condition of things, announced here as a reason why it was proper for God to interpose."[2]

The very basis of Christianity is that of absolute truthfulness, sincerity, and love. No child of God may lawfully do anything other than "Speak the truth" (Ephesians 4:15). Moreover, the Scriptures specifically promise that "All liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

Verse 3

"Jehovah will cut off all flattering lips,

The tongue that speaketh great things;

Who hath said, With our tongue will we prevail;

Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"

These lines are a promise that God will indeed intervene and "cut off" such an offensive society.

"Tongue that speaketh great things." "Proud and lofty boastings are intended, as in Daniel 7:20." [3]

"With our tongues we will prevail." "The wicked acknowledge no responsibility for their words."[4]

"Our lips are our own." This is merely the proud boast of the evil doers that they intend to do just as they please without any restraint whatever.

"Who is lord over us?" This is the attitude, whether openly stated or not, of every lawless society.

Verse 5

"Because of the oppression of the poor, because of the sighing of the needy,

Now will I arise, saith Jehovah;

I will set him in the safety he panteth for."

These words constitute a direct answer to David's cry for help from the Lord.

"Now will I arise, saith Jehovah." Addis and other radical critics have alleged that this is a quotation from Isaiah 33:10;[5] but it takes a vivid imagination indeed to believe that five words, the equivalent of which are used a thousand times in the Bible, are any kind of a legitimate quotation. Besides that, how could anyone know "who quoted whom?" Addis' assertion that Isaiah 33 was written in the second century B.C. contradicts the appearance of Isaiah 33 some 200 years prior to that in the LXX.

Verse 6

"The words of Jehovah are pure words;

As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, purified seven times."

Delitzsch recognized these words also as the direct message of God to David.[6] He also interpreted David's words in Psalms 12:7 as the equivalent of the psalmist's solemn "Amen" to God's promise in Psalms 12:5-6.


Satan himself tried God's Word in Eden, saying "Thou shalt not surely die," but the sprawling cemeteries of the whole world, spread like patches of leprosy in every nation have purified God's word. Yes indeed, it was absolutely true.

It has been alleged by some that science has discredited the Bible, but Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of modern science was a devout believer in the Bible; and in my Commentary in the New Testament Series, Vol. 4 there is an anthology of many of the greatest scientists who ever lived, including our own generation, all of them believers in the holy Bible. In fact science has never uncovered a single truth that contradicts anything in the Bible. Furthermore, it is an amazing fact that in many of the most marvelous discoveries of the scientific community, they have merely caught up with what was stated in the Bible nearly two thousand years ago.

The probability that our earth will eventually "burn up" is one such discovery.

Then God's Word was tested again when the radical critics of the 19th century attempted to destroy its credibility; but today not a line has been lost from the sacred Book. The critics in the greater part have been swallowed up in the grave, and devout people still believe every word of the Bible. As Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my word shall not pass away"!

There is an honest and helpful kind of criticism that is invaluable in trying to discover the meaning of damaged or corrupted texts; and this is appreciated by all thoughtful persons. However, the vicious, unbelieving critic whose only objective is to discredit the Bible is a vanishing species. True, many of such men were truly intellectuals, having brilliant minds and unusually remarkable skills; but the rules under which radical criticism consented to conduct their studies have been absolutely discredited, rejected, outmoded and forsaken by most Christian scholars of our generation. That kind of criticism is now a dead duck.

Verse 7

"Thou wilt keep them, O Jehovah, Thou wilt preserve them from this generation forever."

As noted above, this is David's exultant "Amen" to the glorious promise of Psalms 12:5-6. All of God's people are perpetually safe. As the Lord said, "Not a hair of your head shall perish."

The fact that a whole generation may fall into the grossest and most shameful immorality is of no importance whatever, except as it pertains to the salvation or the condemnation of that generation. The Lord knoweth his own, and their safety is in the hands of the King Eternal.

Verse 8

"The wicked walk on every side,

When vileness is exalted among the sons of men."

The elevation of evil men to high places of authority results in the proliferation of all kinds of shameful conduct in the land; and it would appear that this verse outlines just such a situation. It corresponds very closely to verse 1 of this psalm and seems to be just another way of saying "The current situation in society remains the same."

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 12". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/psalms-12.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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