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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 12

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-2

It seemed to David, as it did to Elijah years later, that the godly had almost become extinct in Israel (cf. Psalms 11:2-3; 1 Kings 19:10). Liars and double-minded flatterers had gradually replaced people who were true to their word and commitments. This is hyperbolic language, but David used it to remind God indirectly of His covenant promises to bless the godly. "Faithful" (Psalms 12:1) is hasid that relates to hesed, which means loyal love or covenant loyalty.

Verses 1-4

1. Plea for deliverance 12:1-4

The multitude of liars and deceivers that surrounded David moved him to cry out to God for deliverance for the godly minority.

Verses 1-8

Psalms 12

David placed great confidence in the promises of God to deliver those who look to Him for salvation. This was not easy for the psalmist to do, since in his day powerful wicked people were taking advantage of the weak and vulnerable (cf. Psalms 11:3). The genre of this psalm is probably a community lament with a statement of confidence in God.

Verses 3-4

David wished the Lord would end the flattery and arrogant claims of those around him. They confidently believed they could accomplish anything they chose to do by their lies and deception. They also repudiated any restraint of their free speech (cf. James 3:5).

Verse 5

2. Assurance of deliverance 12:5

We do not know how David received the assurance that God would deal with the liars that troubled him. It was a prophetic insight, and it may have come directly from God or through another prophet. However, in view of the verses that follow, the psalmist perceived it as an authoritative promise from God. This is the first of several psalms that contain an answering oracle from the Lord (cf. Psalms 60, 81, 95).

Verse 6

In contrast to the promises of the liars that so frustrated David, the Lord’s promise that he had received (Psalms 12:5) was absolutely pure (flawless) and very precious. He could rely on it completely. Seven was the number the Israelites associated with the perfect work of God, going back to the creation of the cosmos in seven days.

Verses 6-8

3. Confidence in God’s promise 12:6-8

Verse 7

The "them" and "him" in Psalms 12:7 in the NASB probably refer to the vulnerable godly of Psalms 12:5. The NIV calls them "us." Alternatively, David may have meant God’s promises (Psalms 12:6), but this seems less likely. David received encouragement and confidence from the Word of God that assured him of divine protection from the smug liars he found on every hand.

Verse 8

When people pursue lives of vanity and vile conduct, verbal deception abounds, but God will preserve the godly. "The sons of men," repeated from Psalms 12:1 and so an inclusio for this psalm, stresses the mortality of the wicked (cf. Isaiah 2:22). David did not resolve the problem of evil, but he recognized that evil is under the full sovereignty of Yahweh who will care for His children.

"Vileness (’cheapness’) is promoted and exalted in the media: immorality, brutality, murder, lies, drunkenness, nudity, the love of money, the abuse of authority. The things that God condemns are now a means of universal entertainment, and the entertainment industry gives awards to the people who produce these things. People boast about things they ought to be ashamed of (Philippians 3:18-19)." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 111.]

Some believers live and work in environments very similar to the one David pictured in this psalm. This psalm should be a comfort when they feel that speaking the truth is futile. God will preserve those who purpose to follow Him when they must live in atmospheres polluted by deceit and corrupt speech. Though no one else’s word may be reliable, His is.

"The church is always one generation short of extinction, so we must be faithful to win the lost and teach the believers, or vileness will conquer the land." [Note: Ibid., p. 112.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 12". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-12.html. 2012.
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