Updated: Aug 9, 2022
"The Faithful Have Vanished." Another translation says, "the godly man ceases [to exist]." That's the headline for Psalm 12, right out of The Book. An alternative headline might be, "The church is full of hypocrites." Ouch! Once again, the psalms are ever pointedly ageless and relevant. David’s heartfelt, candid appeal to God is full of passion and conviction.
I just don't know how anyone can doubt the supernatural, timeless truth of the Bible.
David laments that the true faithful have vanished and everyone's full of deceit. These folks, David says, talk nice, flatter freely, boast vocally, but they're double-hearted, greedy, poor-folk-oppressing cheats.
David prophetically invokes God's judgment upon the high-talking, two-faced faithful who talk the talk, even as they don't walk the walk, especially in caring for the poor.
Scholars don't know for sure, but Psalm 12 is believed to have been written during Saul's reign when, "there was a general decay of honesty and piety both in court and country (1)." David would have experienced this first-hand, both as an observer of his chronically wayward people and also as an eventual object of Saul's cuckoo jealousy and jockeying.
It's important to clarify the nature of the hypocrisy David calls out. Growth-seeking Christians are going to live a certain amount of "hypocrisy," in that we aspire to be better than we are as a matter of devotion or obedience to God. For example, we'll treat people we don't like with kindness or humbly submit to authorities we don't respect. The problem is our heart or motives.
If the disconnect is due to our sincere, if flawed but faithful, desire to do right out of love and reverence for God (if not people), OK--That's being human. Is our heart in a humble posture or one that's bent on haughty defiance?
What David is condemning here is the "double-hearted" (v.2). whose hearts are "boastful," "wicked," and "vile." Those who "plunder the poor" and cause the "needy to groan." All told, there's a lot of that going around. Sadly, this is quite true in the church--whether actual buildings or the body of Christ...and that's you and me.
No doubt, this is a timeless theme and Scripture and one of Jesus’ pet peeves. Jude also covers variations on the theme in the strongest possible terms centuries later in the book of the same name.
Yes, some of us God-loving Christians find our hearts and motives aren't 100 percent either (wink).
Sometimes, like the apostle Paul, I’m positively baffled by the disconnect; the way my own heart betrays me.
The very good news is that, in Christ, we have the very handy tool of repentance and confession. We can know we're messed up and ask Jesus to forgive us and remove our failings, trusting that He's transforming us from glory to glory. Meanwhile, He stands in the giant gap of who we are and perfection. Whew.
David concludes Psalm 12 reminding us that the words of the Lord are pure. We can count on it. David declares God's eternal protection for His people as the abject nastiness "is exalted" on earth.
Amen and thank you.
During days like these, that is Good News.
Grace and peace,
Prayer: Lord, forgive the ways in which my heart and actions don't align. Cleanse my heart, Oh God! Thank you for loving me. Amen.
Takeway Tool: Bless someone poor today, whether they're poor in spirit or financially.
1.) The Preacher’s Commentary, Ogilvie; Commentary on Psalms 12 by Matthew Henry (blueletterbible.org)