Ep041: Psalm 12: Words, Words, Words

Hi. I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 12 differs from the psalms before it. Here’s how: Most of the first eleven start with doubt or fear and end with hope and praise. Surprisingly, Psalm 12 ends just like it starts. The first verse says, “Help, Lord, for the godly are no more!”  And the last verse says, “The wicked strut about on every side.” Is there no movement in this psalm? Is the poet stuck? Is he unable to climb out of his pit this time?  

The heart of Psalm 12 describes what the wicked say and what God says in response. It’s a poem about how God and people  use words, about how they speak.

First, the poet describes the speech of the ungodly.
– They lie to their neighbours (v. 2)
– They flatter deceptively (v.2)
– They boast (v. 3)
– They say, “We will triumph with our tongues” (v. 4)
– They say, “We own our lips, who is our master?” (v. 4)

The speech of the wicked escalates from simple lies to a world-conquering claim, “We can say whatever we want, we have no master who can tell us ‘No!’”

But the poet has a surprise for the wicked. They did not notice that God, the master of all, is eavesdropping on their arrogant speech. He says, “I think I’d better do something. I will protect the needy from those who speak against them.”

And then the poet gives a moving description of God’s words: “The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” (v.6). The heat of the furnace shows God’s words to be beautiful, pure, valuable, and masterful. But the furnace annihilates the arrogant words of the wicked. The last word and the words that last, belong to God. These are words shape our lives.

Yes, Psalm 12 does differ from other psalms because, God’s words are the light at the centre, standing out from a dark beginning and a dark ending.

Let’s pray.

Our father, how careless and arrogant are the words our leaders use.  
– President Trump speaks disparagingly of “Crooked Hillary”, “Lyin’ Ted”, “low-energy Jeb”, “Sloppy Steve” and various “losers”.
– Prime Minister Trudeau talks about “different perceptions” — when the issue is not perception but truth.
–  Innocent people killed in drone strikes are reported as “collateral damage,” not murdered fathers and mothers and children.
George Orwell said, “Political language . . . makes lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and gives an appearance of solidity to pure wind” (“Politics and the English Language”).  

Lord, much of what we say and hear is wind. Our words are like chaff that the wind drives away (Psalm 1:4). O Lord, purify our use of words.
– Help us not to lie and flatter and gossip.
– Help us not to disparage others.
– Help us not to use words to conceal the truth
– Help us not to speak pretty pictures that cover dark motives.
– Remove anger and abuse and violence and deceit from our lips.

Instead
– teach us to think true thoughts and speak them clearly,
– teach us to feel deep love and express it generously,
– teach us to see much beauty and to share it with delight,
– teach us to see evil clearly and denounce it vigorously.

Your words, Lord, are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Refine and purify our words, so they may share the beauty of yours.

Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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