Have you ever been concerned that godly men seem to be disappearing from our landscape? Ever get discouraged because the crassness and craven words that seem to be dominating the airwaves and print media? Do you ever begin to lose heart because it seems the only ones who are getting ahead are those who use their mouths and words in such a way as to crush those who are in their path? Well, if you’ve ever felt this way – there is good news. A man who was going through the same thing wrote psalm 12.
David was discouraged. He cried out to God in the midst of his circumstances saying the following: “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; 4 Who have said, "With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
David watched as godly men were disappearing from the scene. The word he uses to describe these men has the idea of being like the Lord in his character – but it emphasizes the idea of kindness. These men were fading from the scene, as were faithful men. Where were the men of character and kindness who inspired confidence and gave stability to the society around them. They may not even have been popular for their godly, holy views and yet, the depth of their character and the way they lived stabilized things. The problem was – Saul was the leader – and he encouraged ungodliness in the people. He was only interested in his own power and was willing even to murder the priests of God if he thought for a moment that they were against him.
David also watched as leaders arose who ruled with their words. First of all they spoke falsehood and flattery. They said one thing that would flatter you publically, but privately they were weaving a deceptive web to destroy you. Saul confessed sin in chasing David and trying to kill him. He even wept when David confronted him with it. Yet within a very short time Saul was hunting David again. The literal Hebrew in David’s cry to God was that these men “spoke with a heart and another heart.” This was the habit of Saul to speak with one heart – and yet would have another heart that was completely different from his public statements. He was double-hearted, hypocritical man. The men David watched who were in power – boasted that they would prevail with their tongues. Just their speaking would produce heroic things. They thought themselves invincible with their mouths and their speeches. They would say whatever they wanted. No one would be able to take them down. If someone were foolish enough to try, they would lash him or her with their words and tongue like someone whipping a man until he was crushed and destroyed.
David’s cries for help did not fall on deaf ears. God heard David and spoke. He assured David that He was the protector of the afflicted and needy when He said this,
“Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise," says the LORD; "I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
It is a sweet thing it when God speaks and comforts our souls this way. The first comfort to us is that He has seen what is going on in the world. God speaks of the devastation of the afflicted – the words here describe a violent devastation. He not only hears our prayers – he even hears our groans under such violent oppression. David then reminds himself that God’s words are pure. In fact they are purer than anything imaginable. He speaks of silver refined seven times in a furnace. The beauty in that picture is that no smelter of silver would go through that process more than 3 or 4 times. At that point, one could not get the silver purer because the height of purity would have been reached. Yet David speaks of something smelted 7 times, the number of perfection in the Scriptures. That is because God’s Word is more pure that the purest substance on earth. There is absolutely no impurity in the promises of God – they are true and faithful to the end. This is why David praises God, knowing that when God makes a promise, He will keep His Word. Such a promise to David speaks not just to his generation – but also to all succeeding generations forever. They all can rely on God’s Word as their help in time of trouble and their hope in the most hopeless of moments.
Even as David finishes this song to God with confidence he ends it with another reality. We live in a Genesis 3 world where the fallen state of man and the devastation it brought to this earth will remain until this world passes away. Those who look merely to human rulers will be disappointed. The world around us is devolving in sin through every generation. The reason for the devolution of man and every political system by which he seeks to govern himself – sin.
There is vileness in this world that began with Adam and will not end until the last trumpet is sounded. Jesus put it in these words, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19, NASB) Evil is not static. We are reminded in Romans 1:32, “. . . although men know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Is it interesting that hundreds of years after David wrote this Psalm, Paul says pretty much the same thing in the New Testament?
There is a vileness that is exalted among the sons of men. The Hebrew word David uses is expansive in its meaning. It speaks of that which is worthless and sinful. It speaks of something contemptible to God both morally and socially, and it usually involves both shameful excesses of ungodliness as well as a complete and total worthlessness to all those around. Vile indeed expresses what God sees as godless men think they reign unrestrained with their mouths and their words. When these wicked men rule – they strut. They boast of their wickedness and say that no one rules over them. Such is the world until Christ returns. An unfortunate reality is that as the years hasten to the day He does return – the wickedness of such vile strutting leaders will increase. Right will be called wrong – evil will be embraced as good. It will pave the way for the “man of sin,” the antichrist. He will be the ultimate vile, strutting ruler – boasting in himself, and even one day taking his seat in the midst of the temple of God – boasting that he is god. But he will be the last of the vile, sin-advancing rulers of this present world. He will be overcome and devastated by the sword that comes out of the mouth of Christ. That phrase simply means that the Word of God (called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6) is what will win the day. The victory will be enjoyed by those who put their trust in a silver sword forged 7 times in the fire – free from impurity – powerful in its every statement – and more than strong enough to deal with “the” wicked ruler – and every one of his imitators down through the ages. Trust in that word, children of the King. He spoke it – and He will arise and lift you to the safety for which you long.