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Psalm 12:4

ESV those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
NIV those who say, 'By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us--who is lord over us?'
NASB Who have said, 'With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?'
CSB They say, "Through our tongues we have power; our lips are our own--who can be our master? "
NLT They say, 'We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own — who can stop us?'
KJV Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

What does Psalm 12:4 mean?

This discloses the crass attitude of the proud boasters. Both in David's era (Psalm 12:1–3) and today, arrogant "big talkers" assume they will always get away with deceptive language. Their ability to take advantage of weak or desperate people leads them to think they won't have to answer to anyone.

Modern culture, especially, overflows with those whose speech is corrupt. Technology and social media have made it easier for us to communicate, but this has also given arrogance and flattery a larger platform. The people depicted in David's complaint boast, slander others, curse, and profane God's holy name. The Commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7), means nothing to them. They have no sense of accountability to God or man.

Those who revel in abusive, lying, foul, or deceptive speech believe their tongues are key in their quest for control of others. However, the apostle James differs with that notion. He writes: "No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8). Proud, evil boasters are not using their tongues—their tongues are their masters and use them. Revelation 21:8 identifies the lake of fire as the final destination of those who live and breathe by their own lies.
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