Monday, August 31, 2015

Trusting God on the Journey of Faithfulness: Learning to Pray Psalm 12

The life of faithfulness is challenging. The world that we live in is complex. The issues of the day can be daunting. This psalm explores the isolation that God’s people can experience when they forget their foundation.

Psalm 12

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
    they flatter with their lips
    but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the Lord silence all flattering lips
    and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
    “By our tongues we will prevail;
    our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“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.”
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
    like silver purified in a crucible,
    like gold[c] refined seven times.
You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
    and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
    when what is vile is honored by the human race.

Verse 1 opens with a cry for “help” directed to the LORD. This is the Hebrew word hosanna that readers may recognize from the Gospel story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Hosanna means “save.” Thus it is more than just calling for “help.” The psalmist recognizes that it is the LORD alone to whom he can turn.

What is the reason for this call? The psalmist feels as though he is utterly alone in attempting to walk faithfully with the LORD. In verses 1b–2 the psalmist exclaims his belief that all of the faithful have vanished. There is no one who remains loyally committed to the ways of God. In fact, the psalmist declares that everyone speaks deceptively and plots ill. Have you ever felt this way? How do we pray when it seems as though we are the only ones who trust the LORD and care about his mission?

Verses 3–4 add specifics to the psalmist’s plea for help. The psalmist feels oppressed. The psalmist asks the LORD to silence all who using their voices for deceitfulness and boasting about their own power. Life confronts us with choices and differing philosophies. One subtle temptation involves the myth of self-reliance. We can deny the existence of God and power of our own faith by acting as if it is our talents and strength alone that determine our destiny. The psalmist recognizes his true need for God and is overwhelmed by a society in which this truth is denied. When self-reliance is overemphasized, we find a society shaped by selfishness and injustice. We treat resources as limited and hoard them for our own use or for the use of those whom we love. This psalmist is on the short end of this type of world.

The psalmist then shares the LORD’s response. The LORD is not for the self-reliant, but for justice. The LORD rises up to protect the poor and needy against those who claim self-reliance and self-determinism as they philosophy of life.

Verses 6–8 affirm the psalmist’s trust and confidence in the LORD’s care and protection. Unlike the wicked whose words are fickle and deceptive, the words of the LORD is sure and secure. They are like the purest silver or gold. They are money in the bank. Therefore, the psalmist knows that his life is safe. Regardless of how desperate the situation appears in the moment, the LORD safeguards the those who truly recognize their need for God. This psalm reminds us that the LORD is present for those who are desperate for what only God can do. O that we would all live our lives out of this sort of dependence!

What is the problem that confronts the psalmist in Ps 12?

How does the LORD answer the psalmist?

What warning does this psalm offer to those who pray it?

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