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Psalm chapter 12

New International Version

1 For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David. Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
2 Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. 3 May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue--
4 those who say, 'By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us--who is lord over us?' 5 Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,' says the LORD. 'I will protect them from those who malign them.'
6 And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. 7 You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, 8 who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.
English Standard Version

1 To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. 2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, 4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” 5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” 6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. 7 You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. 8 On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
King James Version

1 {To the chief Musician upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.} Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. 3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? 5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. 8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
New American Standard Bible

1 Help, LORD, for the godly person has come to an end, For the faithful have disappeared from the sons of mankind. 2 They speak lies to one another; They speak with flattering lips and a double heart. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; 4 Who have said, 'With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?' 5 'Because of the devastation of the poor, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,' says the LORD; 'I will put him in the safety for which he longs.' 6 The words of the LORD are pure words; Like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, filtered seven times. 7 You, LORD, will keep them; You will protect him from this generation forever. 8 The wicked strut about on every side When vileness is exalted among the sons of mankind.
New Living Translation

1 For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by an eight-stringed instrument. Help, O LORD, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! 2 Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts. 3 May the LORD cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. 4 They say, 'We will lie to our hearts' content. Our lips are our own--who can stop us?'
5 The LORD replies, 'I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.' 6 The LORD's promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. 7 Therefore, LORD, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, 8 even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Help, LORD, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race. 2 They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts. 3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that speaks boastfully.
4 They say, "Through our tongues we have power; our lips are our own--who can be our master?"
5 "Because of the devastation of the needy and the groaning of the poor, I will now rise up," says the LORD. "I will provide safety for the one who longs for it."
6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times. 7 You, LORD, will guard us; you will protect us from this generation forever. 8 The wicked prowl all around, and what is worthless is exalted by the human race.

What does Psalm chapter 12 mean?

The Bible does not shy away from recording honest human complaints. Faced with evil or persecution, believers sometimes ask, "where are you, God?" David's opening lines of this psalm resemble remarks made in other Old Testament passages (Habakkuk 1:2–4; Psalm 22:1). As usual, Scripture brings those comments into context, showing that God will always vindicate His people, eventually. David mourns over what seems to be a complete lack of good people: in a poetic sense, "everyone" has become a double-talking liar (Psalm 12:1–2).

In response, David calls on God to judge these wicked people. To "flatter" means to heap praise on someone; in contexts such as this, it implies dishonest or exaggerated compliments. These are usually given to soften someone up, lowering their guard so they can be taken advantage of. Much as he noted in other psalms (Psalm 10:6, 13), David sees arrogance in these wicked people. They think their smooth talk and deception will keep them from any consequences (Psalm 12:3–4).

Also echoing his other psalms, David connects wickedness with an abuse of the poor and weak (Psalm 9:12; 10:2–3). His earlier despair and anguish are balanced by a trust in God. He knows God will, in the end, ultimately judge evil (Psalm 12:5).

Verse 6 makes a direct contrast to the lies and insincerity of the wicked. God's words, including His written Word, are compared to ultra-refined precious metals. The refining process removes impurities and lesser metals, leaving only the pure, valuable substance. Seven is the biblical number of perfection, so this implies that God's Word is absolutely perfect in its purity (Psalm 12:6).

The end of the psalm returns to the same theme as the beginning. Humanity is saturated with corruption and evil. The Bible uses the term "generation" to refer to family trees, such as fathers and sons. It also uses the term in reference to cultures or societies. "This generation," from which the poor will be protected, are these liars and deceivers mentioned in prior verses. In the New Testament, Peter will echo the idea of evil hunting like a predator (1 Peter 5:8). The term translated "vileness" implies something cheap or worthless: instead of honoring the refined silver of God's Word, mankind tends to prefer inferior lies and deceptions (Psalm 12:7–8).