Psalms 12:8 The wicked ones keep walking all around, when vileness is still promoted by the human race.
This seems a strange way to end a prayer. Maybe it is meant to encourage people to pray the prayer. It reminds us of the need for God’s intervention, because those who hypocritically exploit others are everywhere.
6 The words of Yahveh are pure words, like silver refined in a clay furnace, purified seven times. 7 You, Yahveh, will guard us; you will protect us from this generation permanently.
God’s specific promise was to provide security for those who long for it. The psalmist responds to that promise by praising God for his pure words— words that can be trusted. His words are not like the “great” words of the hypocrites.
This generation is full of pretending exploiters. But God promises to protect us from their influence, give us permanent (for the age) security.
4 They say, “Through our tongues we have power; our lips are our own — who can be our master? ” 5 “Because of the disaster of the needy and the groaning of the poor, I will now rise up,” says Yahveh. “I will provide security for the one who longs for it.”
The wicked ones think they can do what they want as long as they stay on the good side of those in power. But God hears what the politicians refuse to hear: the voices of the oppressed.
1 Help, Yahveh, because there is no faithful one left; the loyal ones have vanished from the human race. 2 They lie to one another; they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts. 3 May Yahveh cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that only says great things.
Is my tongue faithful? The psalmist is talking about those who refuse to be honest in their assessment of others. No doubt some who are like that hide behind the idea that criticism is unchristian. They refuse to say anything negative. They tell themselves that they should build others up, not tear them down.
A faithful tongue respectfully tells it like it is. The psalmist laments the loss of such friends. When you cannot trust your friends to tell you the truth, you have lost your true friends.
5 Yahveh examines the righteous, but he hates the wicked and those who love violence. 6 Let him rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked ones; let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup. 7 Because Yahveh is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.
Wind and rain can be powerful and destructive. The psalmist uses these two destructive forces to talk about God’s judgment toward the wicked ones. The combination of these two forces which wipe away things, and fire which consumes them— speaks of the ultimate fate of those who reject God.
By contrast, the righteous who seek God and want to obey him are promised God’s face. In God’s presence are all the joys we can dream of.
3 “When the foundations we depend on are destroyed, what can the righteous ones do? ” 4 Yahveh is in his holy temple; Yahveh –his throne is in the sky. His eyes are watching; his gaze is examining everyone.
We all have laws of life that we live by, and trust that things will work out alright. But what happens when those foundations are ripped out from under us? We have to stop looking down for safety and security and look up to our omnipotent God enthroned in the sky. Such redirections are always painful. But the outcome is a mature faith.
1 I have taken refuge in Yahveh. How can you say to me, “Escape to the mountains like a bird! 2 “Because notice, the wicked ones are stringing bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the ones whose hearts are upright.
The psalmist knows that there is no escape in mere flight. The only real escape is divine intervention. Perhaps we should pray less “help me escape” prayers and more God, show your power” prayers.
16 Yahveh is King forever and ever; the nations will be destroyed from his land. 17 Yahveh, you have heard what the humble are asking; you will strengthen their hearts. You will listen carefully, 18 doing justice for the fatherless and the exploited so that mere humans from the land may terrorize them no more.
The psalmist ends his prayer for God to help those being exploited by the powerful with assurance that God has heard. God will bring justice, which— in this case— will mean wiping out the oppression. He will stop the exploitation by destroying the exploiters.
Some people have such power and influence that it will take an act of God to bring them down. God acts.
14 But you yourself have been watching trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands. The helpless one is entrusting himself to you; you are a helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked, evil person, until you look for his wickedness, but find it no more.
The psalmist reflects on God as carefully monitoring the crimes committed against the poor and helpless. He calls on God to act against this powerful criminal by punishing him. The broken arm prevents further acts of violence. He asks the Lord to keep pursuing these criminals until they are all caught— until there is no one left to pursue. Rid the land of the exploitation.
11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he has hidden his face and will never see.” 12 Rise up, Yahveh God! Lift up your hand. Do not forget the miserable ones. 13 Why has the wicked person despised God? He says to himself, “You will not follow it up.”
The one who exploits the poor and weak has convinced himself that God is not watching, and will never follow up the crime with justice. That mindset is a trap. God sees every teardrop and drop of blood. He remembers it all and will not forget our actions. It is actually better for the wicked to be brought to justice in this age, rather than go their whole lives thinking that there is no accounting for sin. After death there is no repentance. Only judgment day upon the return of Christ.