If you live in a godless society, this psalm’s for you. Wait, I guess that’s everyone.
David begins with a lament that very likely echoes Noah’s feelings before the flood:
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 (Psalm 12:1-2, ESV).
We often feel this way, too. It seems as if all the faithful have vanished. Liars and deceivers attack us like hungry wolves.
In verses 3-4, David asks God to judge such godless societies:
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?”
These proud people think their articulation skills will enable them to triumph. They put their trust in themselves and their own abilities, rejecting God’s rule.
But God sees the plundered poor and the groaning needy. He will not ignore their cries:
“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 (5-6, ESV).
The Lord will surely rescue the poor and needy. His words are purer than sterling silver, purer even than three nines fine silver.
God’s pure word is sure. His promises never fail. He will protect his people:
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 (7-8, ESV).