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Psalm 12:8

ESV On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
NIV who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.
NASB The wicked strut about on every side When vileness is exalted among the sons of mankind.
CSB The wicked prowl all around, and what is worthless is exalted by the human race.
NLT even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.
KJV The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

What does Psalm 12:8 mean?

This lament circles back to the first words of this psalm (Psalm 12:1). From David's viewpoint, wicked people are everywhere. Like predators, they stalk the poor and helpless from all angles (Psalm 12:2–5). This is much like Satan, who hunts like a lion, looking for spiritual prey (1 Peter 5:8).

As a result of this pervasive evil, "vileness" is praised throughout the land. The word translated "vileness" in the ESV is used only here in the Old Testament. The term implies something cheap, low-quality, or inferior. In this context, David is using the word in direct contrast to the Word of God, which is as precious as seven-times-refined silver (Psalm 12:6). Since God's words are good and holy (Psalm 18:30), the opposite of this would be something disgusting, or "vile."

As in David's time, modern culture puts a high value on what is actually worthless or cheap. It exalts such things as immorality, the love of money, alcoholism, lewdness, disregard for law and order, egotism, vandalism, and spiritual arrogance. What God condemns in the Ten Commandments, wicked people not only embrace but also recommend to others (Romans 1:32). Paul describes such people as bound for destruction. He writes that "Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things" (Philippians 3:19).
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