For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
12 days in to September, here’s Psalm 12:
1 Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
2 Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.
3 May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
4 those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
5 “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.”
6 And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold[c] refined seven times.
7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
8 who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm is something that could have been written today – in an era of fake news, commitments meaning nothing, and poor being plundered. It’s a Psalm that is a cry for justice (v1-5a) but also a Psalm where God speaks (v5b) and this speech changes things (v5b-8). It is interesting that it is the poor and needy whose plight seems to rouse God from seeming inaction. This Psalm – containing some words of the Lord in the most explicit sense, as well as being God’s words – also says something about God’s speech, God’s word, in verse six. These words, flawless, are also not the end of the story – they do something, it appears, with the promise of verse seven and the contrast of verse eight.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
This is the first time that God speaks, in a Psalm, since Psalm 2. And what he says is in direct response to the pleas in various preceding Psalms for him to arise: ‘I will now arise… I will protect them from those who malign them’ (v5). So we see that God is a speaking God, as well as a God concerned with the poor and needy, and a God whose speech is contrasted with the discourse of the culture the Psalmist is protesting.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I resonate with the tone of verse 1 – there is hyperbole, or perhaps not, when talking about ‘vanishing from the human race’. One obvious takeaway is the contrast with God, who is faithful and loyal, as this Psalm demonstrates. Personally, though, I think the important contrast is between human experience and opinions – not that these don’t have some import, though nowhere near as much as they are often given, even in the church – and God’s words. Verse 6 is a jarring reaffirmation of the value of Scripture – flawless, pure, and incredibly valuable. I think Psalm 12 is a challenge to our culture of lies, a challenge to a church that doesn’t think God speaks, and an enduring affirmation of the value of God’s words. It’s a Psalm for us today, as much as it has been to God’s people throughout history.
A prayer from Psalm 12.
Lord, thank you that in this time of confusion, disloyalty and change, we can trust you. Thank you that in this world of changing ‘truths’ we have your word, and your words. Seal your words on our hearts, Lord, protect us and keep us safe – as you promise. Amen.