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First the request and then the problem and then the theology. That’s the basic structure of Psalm 12 (after the jump). Let’s look at the 2d and then the 1st and then the third.

I’ve often observed, and observe here again, how much complaining about enemies goes on in the prayers of David. How much whining there is. I wonder if many pastors under the heat of opponents find the psalms of David to be comfort or at least a companion to give words to the journey?
The problem: David’s enemies are many; the faithful are so few; the enemies use their words for deception and manipulation and to wound and to cut into pieces. All in vv. 1-4. Their arrogance completes v. 4: “Who is our master?”
The request of David is simple: “Deliver!” (v. 1). How YHWH will deliver is found in vv 3, 5: YHWH will arise, take his stand to deliver, and cut them up to counter their cutting speech.
The theology of this psalm is profound: unlike the foul-speaking and manipulative and wounding words of the enemies …

The Lord‘s words are absolutely reliable.

They are as untainted as silver purified in a furnace on the ground,

where it is thoroughly refined.

Because YHWH’s words are reliable because they’ve been tested to the limit. As our companion [John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)] describes it, they’ve been tried in the divine council and now come forth with utter truthfulness.


YHWH’s words are true, so he will cut into the falsehoods of David’s enemies.

For the music director; according to the sheminith style; a psalm of David.

12:1 Deliver, Lord!

For the godly have disappeared;

people of integrity have vanished.

12:2 People lie to one another;

they flatter and deceive.

12:3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,

and the tongue that boasts!

12:4 They say, “We speak persuasively;

we know how to flatter and boast.

Who is our master?”

12:5 “Because of the violence done to the oppressed,

because of the painful cries of the needy,

I will spring into action,” says the Lord.

“I will provide the safety they so desperately desire.”

12:6 The Lord‘s words are absolutely reliable.

They are as untainted as silver purified in a furnace on the ground,

where it is thoroughly refined.

12:7 You, Lord, will protect them;

you will continually shelter each one from these evil people,

12:8 for the wicked seem to be everywhere,

when people promote evil.

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