A World of Lies: Psalm 12

Rebellion against truth leads to a life of lies.

The Need for Revival (2)

Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. Psalm 12.1, 2

The course of rebellion
It is quite likely that, when Paul outlined the course of those who rebel against God and His truth (Rom. 1.18-32), he had this psalm in mind. God is continually revealing Himself to people everywhere. The things He has made, and the work and culture in which people engage, bear witness to God’s Deity, as well as His wisdom, goodness, and love (cf. Acts 14.17; Ps. 19.1-4; etc.). In doing this, God intends that people should acknowledge Him and seek to know more of Him, that they might be saved (cf. Acts 17.26, 27).

But, as we shall see when we consider Psalm 53, none of those who rebel against God will seek Him. Rather than seek Him, those who rebel against Him deny Him, refusing to give Him thanks, turning away from Him and His Law, and setting themselves up as the only reliable authority for their lives. They make idols of all kinds of things, and they devote themselves and all their resources and strength to realizing the promise of those idols, making up the rules of morality as they go along.

When God is rejected, godliness is rejected, and godly people become scarce (Ps. 12.1). And without the restraining example and influence of godly people, the lies of the devil lead people into all manner of deceptions, half-truths, and outright falsehoods, as they cobble together worldviews made of sand, hoping to build castles they can rule by their own authority.

Flattery, gossip, backbiting, fake news, slandering, duplicitousness, double-speak, and empty boasting become the normal means of communication among people who are caught up in the lie (vv. 2-4). The weak and powerless get the short end of the stick, as those who rely on their own autonomy make the rules, set the agendas, and direct all the advantages of life to themselves (vv. 3-5). Oppression, of one kind or another, exists alongside the exercise of power to create societies in which “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…” (Yeats).

Meanwhile, those who live in fear, oppression, need, and uncertainty cry out for relief and safety. Too often, they put their hopes in politics, thinking that the promises of those caught up in the lie might improve their situation. But this is not the safety they hope it will be, and it’s not the safety they need.

Can there be any doubt that Psalm 12 applies to our day? Those who rebel against the Lord and His Law (Ps. 2) turn to the lie and themselves, and the exercise of power however it may be secured, to get what they want out of life. That some folks get trodden underfoot or left behind with the mess is just the way things are.

The place of safety
Psalm 12.1-5 depicts a world of increasing polarities, where the powerful aggrandize themselves by every false and self-serving means, and the poor, needy, fearful, and oppressed cry out for safety. This is the world of our day, when the nations are in rebellion against God and His Law, and the godly – those who should have been holding to God’s Law and proclaiming His Word – are nowhere to be seen.

What is needed at such a time as this is for God to arise (v. 5) and to brandish His silver Sword of truth, to create a place of true safety for all who seek Him (vv. 6, 7). God’s Word is pure and tried. It is reliable and sure. What God promises, God will perform. What God proposes, nothing can oppose. When God comes wielding His Sword, none can stand against His will. The Word of God is the only true safe space for all who feel triggered by the lie in its many and varied forms. All who run to that safe space find power to take that Sword in hand against all earthly powers, for the glory and honor and praise of God, and the progress of His Kingdom on earth (Ps. 149).

God’s safe space – His Word – is no place to huddle and cower, waiting for the storms of oppression to pass. It is a place for the refurbishing and fortifying of the soul; for discerning and embracing the larger will and plan of God; for preparing each day for spiritual warfare; and for building pure lives and good works through the Good News of the King Who reigns over all.

Without this work – God arising and equipping His people to fulfill their calling to His Kingdom and glory – the wicked will continue to prowl on every side, and vileness will continue to be exalted as truth by those who rebel against the Word of God (v. 8).

Praying Psalm 12 for revival
We must therefore pray that God will show us our true safe place, and that He will arise amid the lies of these sad, deceived, and oppressive days, to bring revival to His people, renewal to His churches, and a great awakening to the falling-apart world.

As you pray Psalm 12, let verses 1-4 help you feel sadness for the lost world. Pray for people in your life who do not know the Lord. Pray for world leaders, academics, people in the media and in pop culture. Pray that they will see that they are living a lie, that they have lost their way, and that they need to discover a safe place in God.

Then pray that God will arise (vv. 5-7) by renewing in us, His people, a hunger for His Law and all His Word, that we might shelter there daily, be renewed and refortified in every aspect of our lives, and go forth, Sword of the Spirit in hand, to seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness in our own spheres of influence – our own Personal Mission Fields. Unless God arises to confront, convict, revive, empower, and transform us, we have no reason to believe that conditions in this world will ever improve.

Call on the Lord to arise in the hearts of all His people, to kindle in us a hunger for His Word, to fill us with His Spirit – which is the Spirit of His Law and of Christ and the Gospel -  and to empower us to stand up for Jesus amid these wicked and vile times, as lights in the darkness and salt in times of decay, to show and proclaim Jesus to the world.

The lies will only end when truth is brandished far and wide; and that will only come as God revives us, His people, to follow and proclaim our King and His Kingdom.

For Reflection
1. What does it mean to say that people are autonomous? Why is this a futile way of living?

2. How does God “arise” in such times as are outlined in Psalm 12?

3. Why is the Word of God our only true safe place? What should that safe place do for us?

Next Steps – Preparation: You can see how Psalm 2 and Psalm 12 go together. Try praying them together for a few days, and listen as God speaks to your own soul about what He wants from you.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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