Today’s passage: Psalm 12
Today’s chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans
New chocolate today, chocolate people! That little slab up there in the photo is Endangered Species’ 72% cacao dark chocolate with espresso beans. It’s fair trade, of course. It’s also gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, and vegan, for those of you who are into such things. And it’s a tasty way to get your morning going with sugar and caffeine, though some of you may prefer to receive your sugar and caffeine via a hot liquid. That’s cool, I can respect that. Anyway, on to Psalm 12.
If you ever feel like you’re surrounded by liars, today’s psalm is for you. When David looks around, he sees faithful men turning their tongues to prevarication. I’ll be honest: when I first read the opening line, “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be” (1), I immediately thought of Monty Python’s “This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be!” I thought the liars and schemers of the psalm were killing off the righteous men with their deception. But upon further reflection, I think the “godly man” here is ceasing to be because he’s abandoning his godliness for a liar’s tongue.
David characterizes the liars by their lips and tongues. “With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” (2), he writes. The liars use false compliments to achieve their aims, and their words hide their true intentions. They boast to each other: “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” (4). They don’t respect or acknowledge God’s authority. They think their unscrupulousness gives them free rein, and they count on their tongues as tools to get whatever they want.
David says all of this to set up a contrast with God. He describes God’s promises as follows: “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times” (6). God can be counted on to answer the cry for help with which David opened this psalm; he hears and preserves those whom the liars afflict.
Unusually, this psalm doesn’t offer comeuppance or punishment for the unrighteous men that it describes. It even comes back to them at the end: “The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (8). At least in this psalm, in the short-term, David has no expectation that God will wipe out the liars, or even strip them of the tools of their trade (3). All he counts on is that, even in the face of rampant deception, God will ensure the safety of those who rely on him.