When Everyone Lies
(H) For the director of the choir, upon an eight-stringed lyre, a psalm of David. (1) Save, Yahweh, for the godly are no more, for the faithful have vanished from among the sons of men. (2) Everyone lies to his neighbor. With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (3) May Yahweh cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks arrogance, (4) those who have said, “With our tongues we will prevail. Our lips belong to us. Who is lord over us?” (5) “Because of the oppression of the poor and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says Yahweh. “I will place him in the safety for which he pants.” (6) The words of Yahweh are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen crucible seven times. (7) You, Yahweh, will protect them. You will guard them from this (evil) generation forever. (8) The wicked swagger back and forth on every side when what is vile is honored among the sons of men.
The psalm opens with David’s cry for deliverance from the ungodly that surround him (vs. 1) and closes with his description of a world in which the wicked are free to act as they choose and where evil flourishes (vs. 8). The psalmist throughout uses a figure of speech called “hyperbole” in which he exaggerates or overstates for effect. In the opening, he makes it sound as if there are no righteous people left: “the godly are no more” and “the faithful have vanished.” If this were literally true, he would not have been present to pen the psalm and no one would have been present to read and appreciate it. In the last verse, he emphasizes how prevalent evil has become in our fallen world.
Between the opening and closing, the psalmist zeroes in on two kinds of communication we find in such a world, each diametrically opposed to the other. On the one hand, there are those who specialize in lies, deceptions, flatteries, hypocrisies, and arrogant boastings (vss. 2-4). At the opposite extreme are those who love God’s Word and rejoice in the pure, unadulterated truths the Scriptures contain (vss. 5-7). If we were to focus only on the negative, we would end up in despair. However, if we learn to counter the ugliness of the world's messages with the loveliness of God’s revealed truth, we can endure with hope, knowing that Yahweh has promised to protect those who trust in him.
I. The ugly nature of the world in which we live (1 & 8)
II. The message we choose to believe (2-7)
- Either falsehood leading to despair (2-4)
- Or God's truth giving us hope (5-7)
By putting our hope in the truths of God’s Word we resist the arrogant boastings of the wicked that otherwise would unsettle us.
Before going to the cross, Jesus spent an entire evening with his disciples, preparing them for his departure and for the ministry he had planned for his church after his resurrection and ascension. John devoted five chapters of his Gospel to the Upper Room Discourse, recording for posterity what was on Jesus’ heart (Jn. 13-17). Before offering his high priestly prayer (Jn. 17), Jesus concluded his discourse with this summary statement: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
A few years ago a friend gave me a framed picture with this caption: “No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace.” This, in a nutshell, captures the message of Psalm 12. As those who dwell in a fallen world, we have a clear choice. We can either succumb to the diet of lies the enemies of God constantly feed us and end up in despair or we can resolutely place our hope in the truths found in God’s Word. As we, by faith, cling to Jesus and to his promises, we will find ourselves equipped to live triumphantly amidst the negativity and the falsehoods that surround us.