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Weds 29 June - Psalm 12

Psalm 12

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful any more;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbour;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbour deception in their hearts.

May the Lord silence all flattering lips
    and every boastful tongue –
those who say,
    ‘By our tongues we will prevail;
    our own lips will defend us – who is lord over us?’

‘Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
    I will now arise,’ says the Lord.
    ‘I will protect them from those who malign them.’
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
    like silver purified in a crucible,
    like gold refined seven times.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us for ever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
    when what is vile is honoured by the human race.

- - -

Meditation on Psalm 12

It’s vital.

It’s small.
It’s hidden for most of the time.

It can bring good.
It can bring trouble.

Any ideas what ‘it’ is?


Perhaps this will help.
‘When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes a world of evil among the parts of body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed by mankind but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.’

(James 3:3-10)


And our psalm highlights the difference between words that are false and words that are true.

Note how the psalmist describes these words.

  • everyone lies
  • flattering lips – e.g. smooth talk
  • deception in their hearts – i.e. double talk
  • boastful tongues – those who think that their tongues will help them to win and their lips will guarantee them a good defence.


Note, too, the effect that this is having.

Verse 1


  • ‘no-one is faithful anymore’
  • ‘those who are loyal have vanished’


Verse 5a:

  • ‘the poor are plundered,
  • ‘the needy groan’


False words are having a devastating effect.

We have already seen this in earlier psalms where the psalmist is speaking of his enemies.

For example:

Psalm 5: ‘not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.’


And this is having an effect on the very foundations. Psalm 11:3 ‘When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’


Michael Wilcock comments: ‘None of this talk, unfortunately, is hot air. It can have considerable effects…destructive gossip, undemocratic legislation, language devalued by political correctness, the media’s drowning of quality in quantity, are all examples.’

And when the psalmist says that ‘no one is faithful anymore and those who are loyal (the faithful) have vanished’, takes us back to other Old Testament examples.

1 Kings 19:10,14 where Elijah appeals to the LORD, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty,

…I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Isaiah 57:1 ‘the righteous perish and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.’

Micah 7: 2 ‘the faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains.’


How does the psalmist react?
He prays… 

Verse 1 “Help LORD…”

Verse 5 “May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue.”


How does the LORD react?

He speaks.

He sees the devastating effect that the loose tongue is having on the poor and needy.

  • “I will now arise”
  • “I will protect”


And the psalmist has the assurance that this is guaranteed because of the authority of the Word of the LORD.

‘the words of the LORD are flawless.’

What can be more valuable, in worldly terms, than silver and gold that have been purified in the fire.

How is silver refined in a crucible?

The silver, with its greater density and lower melting point, liquefies first, hissing and bubbling as oxygen is released. The still-solid impurities rise to the top of the molten metal. This is the dross, and the refiner skims it off. Now he adds bits of charcoal inside the crucible. This will bring out the shine of the refined silver.


In the physical gold-refining process, after the mined ore is crushed and pounded into powder, it then must go through frequent washings and cleansings. During these washings, the unwanted, non-metallic elements are, to a large extent, eliminated; only the metallic elements are left behind.
And this process happens seven times – it couldn’t get much purer.


Spurgeon comments: what a contrast between the vain words of man and the pure words of Jehovah. Man’s words are yea and nay but the Lord’s promises are yea and amen.’


He further comments: ‘The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt and scientific discovery and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat.’


Voltaire, the French philosopher, who died in 1778, once said, ‘A hundred years from my death the Bible will be a museum piece.’

One hundred years after his death the French Bible society opened its headquarters in Voltaire’s old home in Paris!


What a treasure we have – this is the Word of the Lord.

The confidence we can all have.


Verse 7: 

There is safety in the Lord.
There is protection in the Lord.


In summary:

The psalm begins and ends with what seems like two sad comments comparing the faithful with the wicked:

Verse 1: ‘The faithful, the loyal have vanished from the human race’

Verse 8: ‘the wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honoured by the human race.’


But there are two other comparisons which should encourage us:

Verse 4: The wicked are saying ‘we will triumph’

Verse 5: The Lord says, “I will arise…I will protect.’

Our confidence is in the Lord and His Word is our foundation for living. 

Thanks be to God.


(Roger Purdom) 


New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photo by Cristofer Maximilian on Unsplash