SOAP Journal – 19 March 2019 (Psalm 12)

The words of the LORD are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

Psalm 12:6

This psalm begins with David asking the LORD for help, because the godly man and the faithful man were disappearing (v. 1).

David then transitions into an explanation of what he is thinking about. And he is thinking about how the sons of men are saying quite a bit. David notes that they lie and flatter (v. 2), but that the LORD [will] cut off all flattering lips (v. 3). David states that the LORD will be moved to action by the devastation of the afflicted [and] the groaning of the needy (v. 5).

It is then that David makes his statement about the words of the LORD. The metaphor used seems to indicate that God’s words are completely pure. If that is the case, then David is saying that God’s words, unlike the words of the sons of men, can be trusted.

In verse 7, David states that God will keep the faithful and preserve the godly man.

David closes with an observation that the wicked strut about on every side when vileness or worthlessness is exalted.

David might very well have been writing this psalm is 21st Century America. Even a cursory glance at social media tells the story of a society obsessed with talking a good game. It seems like every other interview with a person of note is filled with useless words.

What is worse, our congregations are filled with people who walk in and talk as if their lives were nothing but blessing and goodness, sunshine and verdant fields. Small wonder, then, that our society seems filled to bursting with wicked people strutting around. Our airwaves are saturated with lies and flattery. We, the church, are supposed to be different. And we, by and large, are not.

And I am guilty of this. I do not walk in to church with a pasted on smile and tell people that nothing is wrong, but nor do I sit with my brothers and speak of the deep things of my soul – the things that tear me apart and cause me to bite my tongue in everyday conversation. I do not tell my brothers what is making my work life difficult and seek their prayers. I do not confide in my brothers what challenges I face in purity and in being a godly man and husband and father that they might encourage and exhort me. I do not speak often, if at all, of the things that truly enrage me or the things that stoke the fires of my passions. Instead, I speak of the things floating nearest the surface of who I am. I speak in generalities of how it is difficult to be a godly man, husband, and father. I gloss over or ignore entirely the things that enrage me and jealously guard the things about which I am truly and deeply passionate. And because of this I am diminished in my ability to connect with my brothers and my God and to effect change in this world. Because I will not be open, God is limited in His ability to take out of me the things that offend and to pour into me Himself; His Holy Spirit.

God, please forgive me for living so closed and for giving the wicked cause to strut about. I am terrified less of what You will think if I open myself – for I was never hidden from You – but of what might happen with my brethren. You have said that You give me a spirit of power and love and sound mind. I will need that spirit in abundance if I am to live in openness, as You desire, and to become the godly, faithful man that You would have me be.

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The Wicked Strut (Psalm 12:8)

The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.

Psalm 12:8

David calls attention to something that often bothers believers. We have a tendency to look around and see wrong being called right and right being called wrong and people doing the wicked strut — the swaggering walk of a person who is proud of their offenses against God and His Law.

One need not look very far to see it. There are parades to “celebrate” what the wicked world terms “alternative lifestyles.” Pornography and “men’s magazines” trumpet the normalcy of unchecked adultery (any and all sexual sin) and covetousness (I want that guy’s physique). Much as I hate to say it, “action” movies glorify violence. I hate to say it because I enjoy an action flick from time to time. Horror and slasher films continue that work. Most of the merchandise I’ve seen for those movies glorifies the psychotic killer as a “hero” of some sort and the victims as cattle. And while we may not be murdering our neighbors, we’re certainly spending an inordinate amount of time in video games gunning down our fellow human beings. The examples are too numerous to list one-by-one for lack of space. How did society reach this point? David gave the answer.

Vileness or worthlessness has been exalted among men. We have held up vile and worthless practices as something to be admired. People trot out their sexual perversions in public and we applaud them for it, as if someone telling us that they can only become aroused in the presence of a robot took bravery to tell everyone and their dog and was any of our business to begin with. It’s not our business and there’s nothing brave about foisting the knowledge of your perversion on others. We have TV shows like Hannibal and Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad wherein the viewer is convinced to applaud the villain (there are no heroes in Game of Thrones, only characters who have not yet shown the viewer how villainous they are – the heroes are dead – read the books for a full explanation), as if deceit and flaunting the laws of the land and murder and deviant mental processes were somehow admirable. Our elected officials are liars and cheats and we know this and vote for them anyway. One of these elections, we should all write in Mickey Mouse – at least he’s supposed to be fake. The end result is that the wicked strut. They walk around like peacocks; preening because we, as a society, have convinced them that they can do no wrong in our eyes.

There are peacocks where I live. Those birds will walk right into traffic and expect the cars to stop for them (the city irrationally gave the bird right of way on city streets, so it’s a small wonder the birds behave as they do – let’s hear it for conditioned response). A ton or more of metal and assorted other materials versus a blue bird. I can tell you which one is going to win and it won’t take much explanation. But the same is true of humans versus God. A created thing, so small that our significance is dubious outside of God and His love for us versus the Creator of the universe. Again, the outcome is not in doubt and the explanation will be brief. Why, then, do the wicked strut and preen? Because humanity has elevated; has glorified; has exalted vileness and worthlessness. We have disposable technologies and disposable … well, everything — income, relationships, dinnerware, you name it. The ability to use something up and cast it aside have been elevated as virtues and the great idol of Convenience set up for our corporate worship. It is unsurprising that the wicked strut. It is more surprising that they don’t do it more often and more obnoxiously.

Where is the hope for the believer in all of this? It all sounds so hopeless. The hope is in the preceding verse, where David writes that God will preserve him from this generation forever. Who is him? Two thoughts. First, the verse preceding refers to God’s words or Word, so it may be a reference to preserving Christ in purity to be able to be our atonement. Possible. But the context of the psalm indicates that David has in mind the Godly man (v1). The Godly man is the one God will preserve… forever. In the midst of a world that glorifies sin and worthless behavior, God is more than able to preserve those who are Godly and those who want to become Godly He is able to sanctify to that purpose. I do not think, at this time, that being Godly means I will stop watching action movies or playing FPS (first-person shooter, for those who wondered) video games, but what I do or do not continue to do is up to God, for to be Godly is to behave in a manner similar to God.

So let the wicked strut and let the Godly walk in humility before our God. In the end, the worth of each one’s actions will show.