Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbour;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor 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 forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
when what is vile is honoured by the human race.
– Psalm 12
‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ as the French say, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’
At times, it is easy to forget that these Psalms were written 3000 years ago. I’m sure there are times when we feel that verses 1 and 2 could be describing the world we live in today.
We can easily be discouraged, if not downright depressed, by events we hear about in the news and saddened by scandals that hit the church although none of those things should surprise us and actually we need to be careful that we’re not judging others whilst excusing ourselves (Matthew 7:3–5). David’s track record when it came to being faithful and truthful was not exactly unblemished!
However what David is expressing in verses 3 and 4 is the understandable desire that God will act against the powerful and the puffed up, the arrogant who don’t just mock God by their boastful words (vv. 3–4) but also by their actions (vv. 5–6), seen particularly in their exploitation of the poor and their disregard of those in need.
It is easy to get down, disheartened and dispirited by the state of the world but like David a better strategy is take it to the Lord in prayer and to remind ourselves of his great promises. Don’t just listen to the news or read the paper but pray about what you read and what you hear. In verse 5, for the first time in the Book of Psalms, there is a direct address from God spoken in response to the David’s groaning and God says, ‘I’ve had enough; I’m on my way / To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched.’ (The Message)
It’s easy for the cynical to dismiss this as wishful thinking but for those who are followers of Christ these are not empty words but backed up by the truth of an empty cross and tomb.