1 Help, O LORD, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
2 They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own — who is our master?”
5 “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
I will now rise up,” says the LORD;
“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
6 The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O LORD, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
The above is the famous opening of A Tale of Two Cities. The underlined portion reminds Dickens' readers that times have not changed all that much, from the time of events leading up to the French Revolution to the time when this story is heard seventy years later.
So it is the case with Psalm 12. What David describes is not so unlike other times, including our own. It's a time when loyalty is sacrificed, a time when faithfulness and truth are exchanged for selfishness and self centeredness. Such shifts damage society, the shift toward disloyalty, lies, and deception.
In verses 1-2, David asks for God's help in the midst of this kind of societal breakdown.
The currency of the day is flattery, boasting, and self-sufficiency (vv. 3-4).
Against this, God promises to rise up for the sake of the poor and needy (v. 5).
David acknowledges that the promises of God are like refined silver and gold -- fully trustworthy and pure (v. 6).
David turns to God for the help and protection that he and his people need (v. 7).
Where's the ultimate hope to be found in society? Despite the powerful influence of structural powers and of the culture that animates a society, it is God who is ultimate. Ultimate in authority and ultimate in judgment and ultimate in mercy.
May the people of God turn to God in worship and intercession for the sake our society and for the sake of the nations.
Let's pray: O Lord God, we turn to you knowing that you are sovereign. We acknowledge that you are not absent. We see that you are restoring your rule as you bring about healing and forgiveness and reconciliation. It is true that the spiritual battle is on, not just in the sphere of individuals' combat against demons, but in the larger sphere of politics and international affairs. Is there hope? We declare there is. We hope in you, O God. In Jesus' name, amen.