24 September 2016

Psalm 12

"You, O Lord, will protect us; you will guard us from this generation forever." (v. 7)


One of the things that attracts me to the psalms is the honest of the writer. Whether they are full of joy or sadness, they wear their heart on their sleeve.

And Psalm 12 is no exception. Right from the first verse we can feel the despair in the psalmist's voice - you can sense the sad sigh as you read "Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly".

Like the psalms of the previous days, even in these eight verses there is a structure or a progression. Verses 1-4 form a lament as the psalmist bemoans their plight and sets out their complaint before God. Verse 5 is a reminder and reassurance of God's presence and activity - this may have been spoken by a priest or a sanctuary prophet depending where the psalm was spoken. Then in the final three verses  there is an assertion of confidence - God will protect.

The cause for the psalmist's complaint is lies, but not just from the mouth. These lies originate deep within "a double heart", and as such they are harder to combat. The psalmist quotes the liars who say, "With our tongues we will prevail" (v. 4).

Verse 5 of worthy of note. It seems as if God is responding by saying it is not the lies in themselves that cause me to act, but the effect that they have on people. In 2013 the Joint Public Issues Team (of which the Methodist Church is a partner) produced a report: The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty. It exposed some of the most common myths told about people who are in poverty or in receipt of benefits, and highlights some of the most abused statistics. The hope was that the report would empower Christians to challenge those myths and speak the truth.

To Ponder

  • The psalms portray a wide range of human emotions before God. Do you find it easier to approach God when you are joyful, sad, angry ….? Why?
  • What is your response when you see people or institutions lying? What do/could you do?
  • Standing up for the poor or standing with the needy can bring the presence of God into a situation. How can you be an answer to prayer?

Bible notes author

Ken Kingston

Ken Kingston preaches in the High Wycombe Circuit. He has worked for the Connexional Team since 1992 in a variety of roles and has been involved in 'Called by Name' and 'Time to Talk of God' amongst others.