Provocative Devotion: Psalm 12

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“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.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

You, O Lord, will keep them;
    you will guard us[ from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
    as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

There is much hand wringing going on in America these days because fewer people are going to church. The concern is that the godly are disappearing, to use David’s phrase. But David didn’t use attendance at the Temple as the indicator of godliness or lack there of. He mentions two things. People are not being honest and the poor are being exploited. To be sure this is not a justification for abandoning the gathering of the saints together. Scripture affirms the necessity of that practice and people who say they can follow God without other people are sadly mistaken. But more to the point of this Psalm, we live in a time when both these things are true, people are quick to speak lies and to exploit others for their own advantage.

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. He is the way, the truth, and the life. God cares deeply about the words we speak because He cares deeply about truth. As a follower of Christ I must speak truth. Often people think being loving trumps being truthful. Under the guise of not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings we hide the truth. But most often I have found that the real reason we do this is because we don’t want to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position. Failing to speak the truth is not loving, it is dishonest and not godly. Ephesians tells us to speak the truth in love, they go together.

The exploitation of the poor is more than taking advantage of them. When the Bible forbids something, like exploiting the poor, it also by implication affirms the opposite, the protection and empowering of the poor. I may not be taking advantage of the poor, but am I respecting and loving them as people made in the image of God? Fortunately the Lord has watch over the poor and in spite of my lack of concern at times, Jesus is always their advocate. As one who is spiritually poor, even bankrupt, I am indebted to Jesus for His watching over me and paying the price for my salvation. How much more should I be concerned for those poor of every description that Jesus also loves?

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