Friday, January 13, 2012

Psalm 12

Psalm 12
A psalm contrasting words, faithful and faithless.

"To the Chief Musician. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David. Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!  For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men." (verse 1)

        This is a psalm written by David, the king of Israel about three thousand years ago. "Israel" began four thousand years ago as one man who believed in God's words. Of his descendants,  those who likewise believed in God's words were given charge of a written account of them. They in turn continued to pass down these inspired writings for generations, through years of wandering, slavery, conquering, and settling. After almost 1,000 years as God's chosen people in possession of God's holy Word, they asked for a king to rule them. God gave them one, but soon after chose David instead, a man after His own heart. David was a man of the Word. The kings of Israel were required to write out a full copy of the Torah (the first five books) for their own personal use, thus David would have been very familiar with the scriptures, and was said to have meditated upon them daily. Here David, a musician, writes an new song for temple worship, with directions to the Master of Levitical music to have this psalm played on an eight-stringed harp, an instrument known as a "sheminith."  Himself a harpist, this was a piece David probably composed on his own harp in his own chambers.
        It begins with an almost startling cry for help, David's motivation for writing this particular psalm declared in the first verse. Grieved by the lack of men whose hearts are after God (the godly) and whose faith is in God's Word (the faithful), he sings this lament...

"They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things, who have said, 'With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?'" (verses 2-4)

        "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34) David describes the conversation of the unfaithful, citing vanity, flattery, hypocracy, and boastfulness as charactaristic of their speech. No doubt there were specific unnamed men that David was thinking about when he composed these words, and actual events that were the backdrop upon which he wrote these lyrics. As the king, he probably dealt regularly with flatterers who sought his favour for personal gain,  gossipers and slanderers who spread hearsay and lies around the kingdom, and two-faced "friends," who secretly desired to overthrow his rule. But now, the situation at hand is so serious that David pours out his heart before the LORD with a plea for God's help in the matter. David cries, in essence, "Please stop them God! They are undermining my authority and defaming my character!" The underlying spirit of these ungodly men is that of deceit. They use their tongues as weapons, their words as sharp swords, cleverly cutting away at the king's credibility. David feared that such might be the path to national rebellion!
           There is a parallel, strikingly similar, that exists today in Churchianity.  There are those, strategically positioned in places of authority in the church, who through subtle insinuations and occasional assertions, have been cutting away at the credibility of the Bible and thus likewise, Biblical Christianity for several decades. An emphasis on "fresh" interpretation of fundamental beliefs and interpreting the Bible through it's "cultural context" are really just heresies in disguise as post-modern thought. Smoothly spoken words professing deep ancient wisdom are nothing more than the "great swelling words of emptiness" spoken of by Peter in 2 Peter 2:18. Or as Jude put it, "These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage." (Jude 16) These apostates have infiltrated every denomination of Christianity through their deceitful doctrines, seeding discontent and spreading cunningly repackaged ancient lies.  Peter wrote, "There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them,...and many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed." (2 Peter 2:1-2) 
           I'm not talking about the external trappings of a church service, such as candles and couches in a circle versus recessed lighting with chairs and a pulpit. Rather, there is a wide spread departing from the historic Biblical faith as countless pastors, churches, authors, and individuals embrace a "re-created" Christianity for our era that rejects such foundational truths such as the inerrancy of the Bible, the diety of Christ, the virgin birth, the need for salvation, the efficacy of Jesus' blood to justify us from our sins, heaven and hell as actual places, and Christ as the only way to God. "Dialogue" replaces doctrinal teaching, religious rituals and all-inclusive spiritual experiences replace prayer and worship, and personal expression replaces personal relationship. It is a Christianity without forgiveness of sins, hope of heaven, or the Word of God. As Peter put it, "These are wells without water..." (2 Peter 2:17) There are many who would cry out today with David, "Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men...."

"'For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,' says the LORD; 'I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.' The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever." (verses 5-7)

           In all these troubling thoughts, David returns to his anchor: the LORD. Writing under the inspiration of God, he quotes God's own words. God sees those who are in poverty, lacking necessary provisions, and whose very lives are in peril. Whether they are in this state of need by reason of these faithless men is not clear, but what is clear is that, in direct contrast to those who use others for their own gain, God personally cares for those who are helpless... like how David perhaps felt right then. David voices his confidence in a good, loving, and just God whose Words are ALWAYS true, whose actions are always loving, whose heart is for those who are in need. He said He would deliver the poor and needy, and He will do it. David believed what God said. He trusted in his Word. God's Words will never fail and never pass away. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33) and Isaiah said, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."(Isaiah 40:8) When silver is heated in a furnace, the dross, or the waste, rises to the top to be skimmed off. In ancient times, after seven purgings, the precious metal was considered pure. Seven is also used in the Bible to refer to "completeness." David is saying that God's Word has been tried and found true, again and again (verse 6). It is completely pure and without error. Furthermore, God Himself is the Keeper of His own words, ensuring their existence and accuracy for generations to come.
           Like the needy man of Psalm 12, God cares about the man who is living in spiritual poverty, and starving for truth.  He invites the lost sheep to be found in Christ, and guides the believer who is hungry for the pure Word of God to safe pastures. He will deliver, and He will provide, for He is faithful. His Words are faithful. God's Word has never changed, nor will it ever in the future. It is eternal. It is true. We can bank our very lives upon it and expect it's promises with complete certainty. We need not fear the future, nor those men who speak false things, for we have a certain hope, and a definite promise from the Word of God. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is Wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen" (Jude 24-25) He will keep us, as surely as He keeps His very Word. Count on it!

"The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of  men." (verse 8)

           "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20) When good is called evil and evil is called good, it is a sign of a mass departure from the Truth. Right now, it is not popular to be a fundamental, Bible believing Christian, even in the church! But truth remains truth, no matter what comes or goes. And the Truth is found in God's Word. Jesus said in His last hours before the cross, "Father, sanctify (set apart) them by Your truth. Your Word is truth." (John 17:17)  In a time when the deceptions are many and false teachings prolific, hold fast to the Word of God.  God will hold fast to you, and no one can snatch you out of His hand. (John 10:28) Just as Abraham believed God's Words and it was accredited to him as righteousness, so too, we are counted among the faithful of the ages when we take God at His Word and believe Him. Nothing has changed. Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul...they all believed in God's divinely inspired Word and banked their lives upon it. Be encouraged. His Word is perfect and remains relevant to us today. His Word shall never pass away. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matthew 24:35) -Jesus

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