Yesterday on Facebook I posted the last verse from Psalm 12. It reads, “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted” (Psalm 12:8).
How many of you thought of the presidential elections, the candidates, the office of the presidency or the over-all state of the union when you read that verse? That’s what first came to my mind. After all, during this particular presidential election cycle character and morals have been made the central issue.
It was unfair for me to post only the final verse of Psalm 12. To adequately highlight our current political condition I should have posted the entire Psalm. This time I have.
Psalm 12 is a good commentary on today’s political landscape. It is also a good commentary on kingdoms and governments of past and future. The Psalm is believed to have been written by David during the reign of Saul. A tempestuous time period to say the least. Some, like theologian Matthew Henry suggest that David foresaw future kingdoms, rulers and the turmoil they would create.
“It is supposed that David penned this psalm in Saul’s reign, when there was a general decay of honesty and piety both in court and country, which he here complains of to God….perhaps David, in spirit foresaw that some of his successors would bring things to as bad a pass as is here described, and treasured up this psalm for the use of the church then. “O tempora, O mores!–Oh the times! Oh the manners!” (Matthew Henry 1662-1714)
Below is all of Psalm 12. It is only 8 verses long. Part of it is a mirror of our times. Oh the times! Oh the manners! Now if only our belief and reliance on God could reflect that of David’s!
(King James Version)
1) Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
2) They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
3) The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
4) Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
5) For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
6) The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7) Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
8) The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted
“That “vileness is set on high among the sons of men” is the description of a world turned upside down. Beggars are on horseback, and princes walking. The despicable is honoured, and corruption is a recommendation to high position. There have been such epochs of moral dissolution; and there is always a drift in that direction, which is only checked by the influence of the “faithful.” If “vileness is set on high among the sons of men,” it is because the sons of men prefer it to the stern purity of goodness. A corrupt people will crown corrupt men and put them aloft. The average goodness of the community is generally fairly represented by its heroes, rulers, and persons to whom influence is given; and when such topsy-turvydom as the rule of the worst is in fashion, “the wicked walk on every side.” Commentary from the Expositor’s Bible, created by Alexander MacLaren and Sir William Robertson Nicoll.
The Psalm begins with, “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth”. It ends with the “wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted”. The composers of the Expositors Bible rightfully highlight the fact that there will always be a drift in the direction of evil. Like flowing river waters evil drifts us away from our Lord.
But more importantly these wicked and vile men are to be kept in check by the influences of the faithful. The influence will come in one of two ways. First, overtly. Jesus Christ gave us the great commandment to teach and baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Secondly we influence people in a less overt and more subtle fashion. We do this by our very being, of honestly and openly being a Christian. D.L. Moody said, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian”.
Our greatest influence over evil is our Christian character, our way of life, the display of our loving, Christian heart. Actually, when you stop and think about it-Love, Christianity and heart are all synonymous with each other. John in his 4th epistle tells us twice that “God is love”. Christian was a term first used in Antioch to describe true believers and followers of Jesus Christ. The heart is used throughout the Bible as a metaphor for the spirit and soul of man.
David through Psalm 12 demonstrates that wicked and vile people will always be present, always be influential and will always have a circle of wicked cohorts surrounding them. David also highlights the power and purity of our Lord. God shall “keep” us. He will preserve us from this generation for ever”.
Don’t worry. God is in control.