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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 12

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-8


David, lamenting the decay of godliness, and the prevalently of deceit, craves help from God, 1, 2. He predicts the destruction of flatterers, proud boasters, and oppressors, 3- 5. He comforts himself in assurance of divine protection, grounded on the faithful promises of God, notwithstanding the triumph of the wicked, 6- 8.

Psalms 12:1-8.

V. 1- 4. This psalm may be supposed to have been written towards the end of Saul’s reign ; when his impiety and abuse of authority, had given such a sanction to vice and godliness, that not only piety, but truth and honesty, seemed about to expire ; while every kind of wickedness was practised without fear or shame. Dissimulation, flattery, profane and arrogant boastings, treachery, and calumny, were the general recommendations of the superior people in Israel, to the favour of their king and his courtiers ; and the infection spread rapidly among all orders of men. Forgetful of God, to whom they were indebted for the gift of speech, and for what purpose it was given, and of their accountableness to him, they considered their tongues as their own, to be employed as they pleased ; and they thought to carry all before them, by their wit, eloquence, flatteries, or calumnies. But in fact they were only exposing themselves to the judgments of God, against flatterers and proud boasters. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Is. 59: 3- 8. Jeremiah 9:3-6. Romans 3:9-18. James 3:2-3.)

V. 5, 6. For the comfort of the remnant of poor and persecuted believers, David addressed them in his prophetical character. The Lord assured them, that he noticed their oppressions, and regarded their sighs and sorrows ; and that he was about to arise in order to punish their enemies, and to set them in safety from the power, and the cruel sarcasms and menaces, to which they were exposed. He also reminded them, that they might confidently depend on this assurance ; for the words of God formed a perfect contrast to the deceitful and iniquitous speeches of their neighbours. His testimonies and promises had often been tried by his servants, during the sharpest distresses, and had always been found sincere and faithful ; and every one of his words was holy, just, good, and inestimably precious : they were like silver, which has been many times refined, in the most perfect manner, from all remaining alloy. The death of Saul, the ruin of his party, and the advancement of David to the throne, in a short time after this, formed an exact fulfilment of the prediction.

V. 7. The LXX render this verse as follows, ’ Thou, ’ LORD, wilt guard us, and preserve us from this generation, and for ever.’ Not only from this wicked race, but " from every evil work unto thy heavenly kingdom." (Note, 2 Timothy 4:16-18.)

V. 8. When such vile men as Doeg and his party, (the dregs of the human race,) were advanced to great authority ; the wicked were emboldened to shew themselves, and encouraged openly to avow their corrupt principles, and practise every kind of iniquity. (Notes, 1 Samuel 22:6-19.) But when the power should be put into other hands, they would be driven away, and the righteous would be countenanced : and this would soon take place. (Notes, 101:) "The wicked walk on every side: when they " are exalted, it is a shame for the sons of men." Old Translation.


To the carnal mind, increasing taxes, the decay of trade, and such like events, characterize bad times , but the decrease of piety, and the prevalence of iniquity, form the worst times, in the judgment of the spiritually-minded. When pious men are removed by death, and none are raised up in their places; when the authority, influence, and example of the great, embolden men in impiety, and discourage the profession of godliness, and the labours of faithful ministers; when apostasies, superstitions, and damnable heresies corrupt the church, or when persecutions waste it, and when infidels and profligates triumph ; then the believer thinks the times very bad, however otherwise peaceful and prosperous. But by these very things he will be excited to call upon God, who can and will deliver, when human help is vain. Honesty and sincerity will not long survive piety in any place : they who cast off all regard to God, will dissemble and flatter to serve their own interests with man : and reciprocally, daring iniquity will increase impiety ; till men speak and act, as if they had made themselves, could take care of themselves, and need please none but themselves. But he who made man’s mouth, will call him to an account for all his proud, dissembling, profane, and even useless words : (Note, Matthew 12:33-37:) and he who made our souls and bodies, is Proprietor of them, and demands the use of them. He will cut off the flatterer as well as the slanderer, and the proud infidel as well as the covetous oppressor. He waits, till his people are sufficiently tried, and till his enemies have filled up their measure : but he hears the sighs and prayers of his afflicted people ; and he will defend their cause, and deliver them from the generation of the wicked, and from the wicked one, and that for ever. He will also rise to revive his church from the ruins, with greater glory : he hath promised, and his word is more pure and precious than the finest silver. Let us rest upon it, and comfort our souls with it ; though we cannot but grieve to see the degeneracy of the times, and the abounding of iniquity and infidelity. And even should we witness the advancement of the vilest of men to the highest dignities in church and state, and the consequent triumphs of error and wickedness over the cause of truth and holiness ; still let us wait and pray : the Lord will yet make his cause triumphant ; and the prayers of the remnant of his people are an appointed means of ushering in those better and more glorious days, which cannot now be very far distant.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 12". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-12.html. 1804.
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