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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 12

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Title. - Upon Sheminith - Note on title, Psalms 6:1-10.

Psalms 12:1-8.-Complaint that the godly cease, the treacherous prevail (Psalms 12:1-2); prayer that Yahweh will cut off these men of proud and false tongue (Psalms 12:3-4); His reply, promising safety to the poor (Psalms 12:5); confidence in His words, though the wicked now walk on every side (Psalms 12:6-8).

Help, Lord - or, 'save.' The abrupt cry, without preface, implies the desperate urgency of the danger. The absence of the object (not Help me, but simply, "Help") implies that the cry is not restricted to the Psalmist, but is common to all the godly left.

For the godly man ceaseth. The ground for appealing to the Lord for help is, the little flock of righteous is in danger of being overwhelmed by the ungodly 'generation on every side' (Psalms 12:7-8). Micah had this psalm in view when he wrote Psalms 7:2.

Verse 2

They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

They speak vanity - i:e., falsehood: speech that holds out hopes doomed to disappointment: nothingness [ shaaw' (H7723)].

Every one with his neighbour - with the very one to whom he is bound to be a friend, but whom he cheats with hollow assurances of friendship. This aggravates the offence, that it is against his neighbour. Paul (Ephesians 4:25) refers to this, "Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour, because we are members one of another."

With flattering lips - literally, 'with a lip of smoothnesses.'

And with a double heart literally an heart and an heart; ie with duplicity "A double minded man" And with a double heart - literally, an heart and an heart; i:e., with duplicity. "A double-minded man" [ dipsuchos (G1374), James 1:8 ] is one who has faith on the surface, but underneath lies unbelief. So 1 Chronicles 12:33, 'Ungodly professors have two hearts, two lords, two ends, two ways' (Cocceius).

Verse 3

The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:

The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips - the expression of confident faith that the Lord will hear the prayer with which the psalm begins, "Help, Lord." For in order that our prayers may be heard, we must believe that God will grant them: as the Lord saith (Mark 11:24), "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

And the tongue that speaketh proud things - literally, big things; i:e., the tongue that boasts of its power to deceive, as in Isaiah 28:15.

Verse 4

Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

Our lips are our own - literally, are with us; i:e., are ever at hand to effect what we please.

Who is Lord over us? - who is there to prevent our doing what we please? By our lips we can do what we will.

Verse 5

For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

The Lord answers the complaint and prayer of faith.

For ... for - Because of the oppression of the poor, because of the sighing of the needy,

Now will I arise, saith the Lord - literally, from ... from [ min (H4480)]. The distress and the sighing of His people are the starting-point from which the divine action proceeds.

Now - emphatic. Heretofore I kept silence, and did not interpose, but NOW that my people sigh and cry from their affliction, I speak and act. Compare Exodus 2:23-25, where the two things which moved God, as here, were Israel's oppression, and their consequent sighing.

I will set him in safety - as IN a possession, wherein God installs His people.

(From him that) puffeth at him - in contemptuous scorn. Compare Psalms 10:5, end. The Hebrew verb is the same [ yaapiyach (H6315)]; but the following preposition is different [here, lª-: in Psalms 10:5 it is bª-]. Hengstenberg translates, 'I will set him in safety (who) sighs after it' - i:e., after safety. I prefer the English version, or else Gejer's translation, 'He (the once afflicted one being set in safety) shall puff at him' (the proud enemy). Thus, the enemy that puffed at others (Psalms 10:5) shall be paid in kind.

The believer's confidence in the Lord's promise.

Verse 6

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

The words of the Lord - His promise in Psalms 12:5. The ulterior truth designed by the Spirit is not restricted to this promise, but extends to all God's words, whether of promise or threatening. They all alike (are) "pure words" - i:e., without mixture of error; not like impure ore from which the earth and dross must be removed.

As silver tried in a furnace of earth. Hengstenberg, with Aben Ezra, translates, '(They are) purified silver of a lord of the earth;' not for common use. The Lord's words to man's word are what a prince's silver is to common silver. [ ba`ªliyl (H5948) laa'aarets (H776). The Hebrew letter beth (b) is a radical: the last syllable in baa`al is reduplicated. Instead of haa'aarets, the laa'aarets is substituted, 'of A lord of the earth.' The laa- marks indefiniteness in the preceding noun. The form 'ªliyl, from `aalal (H5953), to work, would not express a workshop or "furnace," but an adjective. Nor can laa'aarets (H776) denote the earth as the material of the furnace, because 'adªmaah (H126) would be used to express that]. The Chaldaic agrees with the English version.

Purified seven times - i:e., perfectly: seven being the perfect number. Compare Psalms 18:30.

Verse 7

Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Thou shalt keep them, O Lord - namely, thy people in safety from their persecutors. From this generation. The corruption was so universal (Psalms 12:1) that the ungodly represent the spirit of the age "from" which the Lord would "preserve" His own chosen few. Compare Galatians 1:4; 1 John 5:19.

Verse 8

The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. Hengstenberg rightly objects to this rendering, that the repetition of the complaint, without mention of the believer's hope, would be a quite unsatisfactory conclusion. The first clause implies the danger to which the godly are exposed through the wicked 'walking on every side' (Psalms 3:6). Their urgent need of help is a strong ground for their confidently expecting it. The last clause is explained by Hengstenberg as an enigmatic summary of the psalm: "The wicked walk on every side;" (but) depression (namely, that to which the righteous have sunk) is as elevation to the sons of men. Their sufferings from the wicked are a token of their coming exaltation: the righteous God will recompense them for their depression now as 'sons of men,' weak and despised (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Rather translate, as it preserves the parallelism between the first and last clauses, and requires no ellipsis of but, sad takes 'sons of men' as referring to the wicked, not to the righteous, which accords better with usage, 'Their past elevation (shall be) the depression to the sons of men'-namely, to the wicked mentioned in the first clause. They exalted themselves as gods, above all objects of worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4); they shall therefore be humbled below all things, and be viler than the clay. So Psalms 82:6-7, "Ye are gods ... but ye shall die like men" (Cocceius).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-12.html. 1871-8.
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