This Psalm is titled “To the Choirmaster; according to the Sheminith. A Psalm of David.” Once again this Psalm is intended to be set to music but it is unclear of what type. Given its dramatic nature, we could imagine it as an operatic lament as our hero David wonders where all the godly have gone.
Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
(Psalm 12:1-2 ESV)
It is unclear exactly what period of David’s life this Psalm was intended to refer to but we know that David suffered many persecutions so it could be a psalm generally applicable to many times of trial. As discussed by C.H. Spurgeon, this lament of the righteous man, that he is alone in the world and in his righteousness, is not unique to David. We find Elijah making a similar cry even though the Lord had saved a remnant of the righteous in addition to him (id). For many of us we can at certain times or in certain environments feel that we are on an island and the only faithful ones left. However, just because we can spot no other lands around us does not mean they do not exist, rather they are simply out of the range of our vision. But seeing with spiritual eyes (those of faith) we know that the Lord has promised to save a remnant so even if we do not see them, yet not seeing we still believe (Romans 11:5).
What is the sign of the disappearance of the godly? Lying, flattery and double dealing. When there are no godly men or women to show forth the light of truth, integrity and good conduct then the darkness of deceit flourishes as if it were a mold.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
(Psalm 12:3-4 ESV)
Speaking boldly and without fear of repercussion or flattering without shame can be a precursor to greater evil, a seed planted in fertile soil ready to bear much wicked fruit. This is why such plants must be torn out quickly from the land before they can take firm root.
“Because the poor are plundered, because
the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
(Psalm 12:5-6 ESV)
The Lord hears our cries (Psalm 6:8) and will take up our cause. His promises are tried and tested. Was he not faithful to give Abraham a son? To give Isaac a wife and heir? To bless and prosper Jacob? To give the land of Canaan to Israel? His hand is not short and he will do what he says because he is steadfast and true. Trust in him.
You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
(Psalm 12:7-8 ESV)
Though the world may love and promote wickedness and we may feel surrounded by it know that the Lord is with us as our protector, and not only our protector but the protector of all of the faithful from this time until the second coming. He is our refuge and our rock.
Lord you are our rock and our redeemer, you have preserved your inheritance and will watch over us and protect us from all of the schemes of the Adversary. Amen.
*ESV=English Standard Version