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.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaks proud things,
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own;
Who is Lord over us?”
“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the Lord ;
“I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O Lord ,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
The wicked prowl on every side,
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
Psalm 12 NKJV
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Have you ever heard this childhood comeback? Ever said it? Someone says something negative, someone mocks you in some way, someone calls you a not nice name–and you retort with the above.
Although I disagree that words cannot hurt, for words can go far deeper than any physical blow ever could, I thought about the above adage while reading Psalm 12. Yet instead of considering it as a comeback to a bully, I considered it as a promise. A promise that the words of man will never prevail against the Word of God.
In the above Psalm, David laments that the faithful have vanished while the boastful declare themselves invincible; the proud believe their words will prevail over all–including God. Yet David knew the error in their ways. David knew no man’s words are more powerful than the Lord’s. No man’s lips are his own. Nothing and no one could ever harm the Word of God.
Man uses many words–words inconsistent and untamed. Sometimes with our words we build up; yet other times we tear down. At times we speak truth; at times we utter lies. Our words are often as idle and as fickle as we are. But God. God’s words are pure, undefiled, and eternal. When He speaks, things happen. When He promises, it comes to pass. When God said He would arise and provide safety, then no amount of human pride and boasting could ever prevent His Word from becoming reality.
In essence, David’s psalm contrasts man’s sinful speech with God’s pure voice. David highlights the difference between the flattering lips of the unrighteous and God’s perfect, pure words of life and truth. Unrighteous speech is replete with pride and flattery; it dishonors God. And it will not prevail. Yet God’s Word is righteous, perfect, and forever.
I believe the most compelling line of the psalm occurs in verse 7:
“You shall keep them, O Lord
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.”
Depending on your translation, the “them” is written as you see above or as “us.” I personally love both versions. As “us” David is reminding us that regardless the state of the world, God will keep His children; there will always be a remnant to continue His work. God will be victorious; no human words or actions could overpower God’s hand. “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but God preserves His children.”
As “them” David reminds us God’s Word will always remain. Amidst destruction and vileness and sin, God’s words are pure and preserved. No amount of impurity could taint what God has spoken. Even this generation could not undue the goodness of God’s words. He who promised is indeed faithful. In other words, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but God’s Word will last forever.”
So remember today that no matter what man may say or think or do, God is and always will be God. Our lips are not our own. Our lives are not our own. Our future is in His hands. Yes, we have free will on earth, and yes, vileness and sin are rampant in today’s society, but no human boast could ever transcend God and His Word. God will be preserved. His children will be preserved. His Word will be preserved. Forever.
“All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:6-8 ESV