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Psalm 12:2

ESV Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
NIV Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.
NASB They speak lies to one another; They speak with flattering lips and a double heart.
CSB They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts.
NLT Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
KJV They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

What does Psalm 12:2 mean?

Scripture does not specify exactly what situation David was facing when he wrote this song. His lament that the entire world seems to have turned to evil (Psalm 12:1) resembles other expressions of frustration found in the Old Testament (Habakkuk 1:2–4; Psalm 22:1). This psalm grieves over a culture replete with deceptive smooth talk, dishonesty, and fraud. This was so rampant that David indicts "everyone" as practicing it; he uses the same exaggeration for effect a modern speaker might employ by saying "no one cares about the poor, today."

Fraud and dishonest flattery were sins employed often by David's enemies. David's son Absalom used flattery to steal the hearts of the people. Second Samuel 15:5–6 says, "And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him [Absalom], he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel."

False teachers appeared in the first century church and used dishonest compliments to gain a following (Galatians 4:17). Paul, for his part, refused to fawn over other people to gain their approval. He tells the Thessalonian believers: "For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness" (1 Thessalonians 2:5).
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