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When the Wicked Surround You
by J Patrick Bowman
8/11/2019 / Bible Studies
Have you ever felt that you were surrounded by people who wanted to take you down and make a mockery of you? In light of Psalm 12, we can assume that this was not only a feeling but a reality at one point in King David’s life. Let’s look at what David had to say:
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
2 They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
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 afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
You will preserve him from this generation forever.
8 The wicked strut about on every side
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
(Psalm 12 NASB)
David cries out to God for help because there has been a removing of the kind, gracious, and pious men from the society he lived. The steadfast have disappeared as by an abrupt, permanent termination. David finds himself as an island in a sea of those whose character is out to harm him and others without remorse or conscience. The very fiber of decency has evaporated in them like the dew in the morning heat. Scholars are uncertain of the exact time that David wrote this psalm; speculating from David’s time in Saul’s court to after he ascended the throne. Looking at David’s story, there were many times when this feeling of despair could have overtaken him like a dark cloud. Micah the prophet echoes this same thought some 200 years later: “The godly person has perished from the land, And there is no upright person among men. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; Each of them hunts the other with a net” (Micah 7:2).
The emptiness, vanity, and lies which they spoke, the flattering of one another arising from their divided hearts, causes David to seek God’s vengeance upon them. “Cut off, destroy their lying lips and haughty tongues!” he cries to God. David can’t bear the arrogance with which they claim, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” These are men who have rejected authority and contend that their empty words are enough to gather support and turn the tide of popular opinion in their favor. No one can stop them, they say, because they are above reproach and control. Asaph wrote of his struggle with the wicked in Psalm 73:
1 Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! 2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot. 8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth.
Asaph ends his Psalm in victory because, while in the presence of the Lord, he sees the destruction of the wicked. David, too, hears from God concerning the wicked around him. Just as the arrogance is dripping from their lips, the Lord has something to say. He is not regarding them or listening to their lies. The Lord hears the cry of those who have been hurt because of how the wicked have seemed to silence the righteous and brought society to its knees before them. “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” The righteous ones long for salvation, freedom, prosperity, welfare, and deliverance. This is the safety the Lord promises to them. As David wrote in Psalm 9:7-10,
7 But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, 8 And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. 9 The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Despite the feelings of oppression David felt, in his heart of hearts he knew the faithfulness of the Lord was something he could count on for all those who seek Him.
We now see that David finds hope and faith in the true words of the Lord: “The words of the Lord are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them;
You will preserve him from this generation forever.” Proverbs 30:5 tells us, “Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” And David speaks again in Psalm 37:28: “For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His godly ones; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.”
Even though the haughty will run around and act prideful in their reliance upon themselves, God will preserve the righteous. Even when “The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men,” God will prevail. As Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 32:5, “No longer will the fool be called noble, Or the rogue be spoken of as generous.” No matter how the wicked parade around us with pride in their hearts, there is a woe that will follow them: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! “ (Isaiah 5:20).
Rev. J. Patrick Bowman is an ordained Christian minister, author, and educator. He lives and ministers from The Dalles, OR in the midst of the scenic Columbia River Gorge. He is "Papa Pat" to his grandkids and to whoever the Lord may send his way. Learn more at revjpbowman.com or www.gorgefaith.org
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