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Saturday, December 9th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 12

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



The same title is prefixed to Psa 6. This Psalm was composed in the time and upon the occasion of Saul’s ill government, and his persecution of David, and other good men who favoured him.

David, being destitute of human comfort, craveth help of God, Psalms 12:1.

He exclaims against flattering and deceitful tongues, Psalms 12:2;

and comforteth himself with God’s judgment on them, Psalms 12:3,Psalms 12:4;

and assureth himself of his tried mercies to the needy, Psalms 12:5-8.

Verse 1

Help; or, save me and other good men from the subtlety and rage of wicked men. Saul will not help us, and other men cannot help; therefore it is a fit season for thee to help.

The godly; or, kind, or merciful, as this word is oft used, as Psalms 30:5; Psalms 31:24; Psalms 86:2; q.d. I and my friends are sorely and causelessly persecuted, banished from our homes and friends, and, which is worst of all, from God’s sanctuary, and yet few or none pity us; all mercy and humanity is lost.

The faithful fail; men have lost not only serious piety, but even common honesty, in their words and dealings with men.

Verse 2

Vanity; or, falsehood, which is a vain thing, and wants the solidity of truth.

With a double heart; pretending one heart, and that they speak from a kind and upright heart, when they really have another, even a cruel and deceitful heart.

Verse 3

Or great things, or great words, either bragging or threatening what they will do, and what great things they will effect, to wit, by their tongues, as they themselves explain it in the next verse, which they will use so cunningly and powerfully, that they shall not need to use their hands, or strike a stroke.

Verse 4

With our tongue will we prevail, by raising and spreading slanders and evil reports concerning him, whereby both Saul will be highly and implacably enraged against David, and the hearts of the people alienated from him; which was indeed a very likely way to prevail against, him, and that by their tongues only.

Our lips are our own, i.e. at our own dispose to speak what we please.

Who is lord over us; who can control or restrain us? This was not the language of their mouths, for they were Israelites, that owned a God above them, and they were subjects of Saul; but the language of their actions. Scripture oft tells us not only what men do actually say, but what they would say if they durst, or what their actions mean, as Psalms 94:7; Malachi 1:12,Malachi 1:13; Malachi 2:17. They take as great a liberty in their speech as if they believed there was no God or man superior to them; because neither the fear of God, nor the reverence of men, can keep them from speaking whatsoever they please, or what they suppose makes for their interest.

Verse 5

For the oppression of the poor; oppressed by Saul through the instigation and artifices of his fawning courtiers.

Now; speedily, sooner than they imagine or expect. From him that puffeth at him, i.e. from him that despiseth him, and hopeth to destroy him with a puff of breath, or a parcel of words. See this phrase Psalms 10:5. Only there it is construed with beth, and here with lamed; which may make some difference. And the supplement in our translation may seem to be large, and not necessary. And the place is and may be otherwise rendered according to the Hebrew, without any such large supplement,

I will set him (to wit, the needy last mentioned; so it is an ellipsis of the pronoun, which is most frequent)

in safety: he (to wit, the Lord, mentioned before) shall speak (as this verb signifies, Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 19:5,Proverbs 19:9, i.e. shall speak comfortably, by a synecdoche; or shall speak plainly, as this verb is used, Proverbs 12:17; Habakkuk 2:3) to him, i.e. to the needy here mentioned. Or, he, i.e. God, shall speak (to wit, in his wrath, as it is expressed, Psalms 2:5) to him, who is the cause of his oppression, of whom he speaks Psalms 12:3,Psalms 12:4. Or, shall puff at him, as he used to do at his enemies, Psalms 10:5.

Verse 6

Pure; or, sincere; without the least mixture of vanity or falsehood; and therefore shall infallibly be fulfilled. This he seems to add to answer an objection which might arise in some men’s minds concerning what was last said. You tell us, The, Lord saith, I will set him in safety, &c.; but saying and doing are two things. They are so indeed in men, who oft speak rashly what they cannot perform, and deceitfully what they never intend: but all God’s words are pure from all manner of dross; from all folly, or fraud, or uncertainty; he is holy and true in all his doctrines, threatenings, predictions, and promises.

Tried in a furnace of earth, i.e. made of such earth or clay as was proper for and then usual in that work. See 1 Kings 7:46.

Verse 7

Thou shalt keep them; either,

1. The poor and needy, Psalms 12:5, from the crafts and malice of this crooked and perverse generation of men, and for ever. Or,

2. Thy words or promises last mentioned, Psalms 12:6. These thou wilt observe and keep (as these two verbs commonly signify) both now, and

from this generation for ever, i.e. Thou wilt not only keep thy promise to me in preserving me, and advancing me to the throne, but also to my posterity from generation to generation.

Verse 8

The wicked walk on every side; which phrase may note,

1. Their great numbers; they fill all places.

2. Their freedom and safety; they are not restrained nor punished, but go about boldly and securely whither they please.

3. Their proficiency and success, which is sometimes signified by this verb, as Genesis 26:13; 1 Samuel 2:21; Isaiah 40:31. They grow worse and worse, and prosper in and by their wickedness.

4. Their incessant and unwearied industry in doing mischief to good men. Compare 1 Peter 5:8. And this is very fitly here added, as another argument to prevail with God to arise to help his poor people who are oppressed by wicked men.

The vilest men, Heb. vilenesses, i.e. all manner of wickedness, lying and slandering, profaneness; oppression, cruelty, and the like; or, vile persons, the abstract being put for the concrete, which is frequent, as pride, Psalms 36:11, for a proud man, and many such like; both comes to one, vile persons and vile practices were both advanced and encouraged through Saul’s misgovernment, whereby all the foundations were destroyed, as he complained, Psalms 11:3. The Hebrew word zolel (whence this zuloth comes) signifies first a glutton or drunkard, as Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:21, and thence any vile person, as Jeremiah 15:19; Lamentations 1:11.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 12". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/psalms-12.html. 1685.
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