Psalm 12 – Good Thoughts in Bad Times

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Psalm 12 is a prayer for God’s help when wickedness is dominating society. The main complaint in the Psalm is about how language is hurting the very fabric of culture.

Jesus made it clear that our words express our character. He said, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. (Matthew 15.18).

In this Psalm we will see that the arrogant put their trust in speech as the instrument of their power. Their deceptive and self-confident speech advertises their conduct and character that ignores God and subjects people to their self-centered plans.

Prayer is the surest weapon in the face of the arrogant, hurtful and worthless speech of others.

Help, O Lord

The use of harmful words is the cheapest and most frequently used form of abuse. Praise God that we can always call out to him when confronted with hurtful speech.

Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
(Psalm 12.1-2)

The nature of those who harm others with their speech is illuminated with the words, “lies,” “flattering lips” and “double heart.”

Charles Spurgeon had this to say about flattery: “A flatterer is the most dangerous enemy we can have. A flatterer is a dog that bites you while smiling.”

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6.24).

A liar attempts to serve two masters. With their words they pledge faithfulness to one person or idea today. Tomorrow, they speak of their loyalty to another.

When confronted with this kind of speech, we can and should resort to prayer. We can appeal to the Lord for help and trust his assistance.

Help with the Boastful

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
our lips are our own—who is our master?”
(Psalm 12.3-4)

When Moses called on Pharaoh to let God’s people go from slavery, Pharaoh responded, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go” (Exodus 5.2).

Pharaoh is typical of arrogant people, who disregard God. The arrogant may profess belief in God, but their language reveals that they are unwilling to have anyone other than “self” to be their master.

Speech is often used by the adversary as a weapon. They believe that they can win victories through their harmful and dishonest speech.

This prayer recognizes the great harm that hurtful speech does and prays for God to eliminate it.

God Answers

In response to the cry of the oppressed, it is as though God says, “I hear the cry of the victim. I can’t help it.”

“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.”
(Psalm 12.5)

In my studies, I discovered what I believe to be a profound statement. The author wrote, “To oppress anyone is a sin, but to oppress the oppressed is the height of sin.”

God makes it clear that he is on the side of the helpless, the vulnerable, and the oppressed. The Book of Proverbs says it well.

Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
or crush the afflicted at the gate;
for the Lord pleads their cause
and despoils of life those who despoil them.
(Proverbs 22.23-23)

When we survey the way that words, both spoken and written, are used to control, to oppress, and to harm others, we can be assured that God is acting on behalf of those in need.

What a Contrast!

The Psalm reminds us of the immense contrast between God’s promises and the lying words of the proud.

The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
(Psalm 12.6)

The words of the arrogant are characterized by flattery, lying, a double heart, and self-centered striving. The words of God are like pure silver that has been purified seven times over.

What God’s words are, the words of his children should be.

Rise Above

It should be our daily prayer to rise above the age of this generation. We can ask God to protect us from all manner of harmful speech. We also should ask him to protect us from engaging in negative speech.

You, O Lord, will protect us;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among humankind.
(Psalm 12.7-8)

Isaiah said this about the kind of speech that has self-interest at its core.

Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
(Isaiah 59.14)

Once again, I will repeat. It should be our daily prayer to rise above the age of this generation.

How to Pray

As you put this prayer into your own words, consider the emphasis of the following verses.

Verse 1 — Help, O Lord.

Verse 3 — Eliminate arrogant speech that denies God’s rule.

Verse 5 — Agree with God that he will rise up and change the situation.

Verse 6 — Praise God for the way he speaks and ask him to make your speech like his.

Verse 7 — Ask God to protect and guard us all.

We are Honored to Pray for You

Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team. We are honored to bring your prayer needt to God. Please email me at or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and share your request with the team.


  1. I typically read the passage of the day in the NIV and NLT. This Psalm is so succinct in the NIV when it starts “Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore, those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.” Watching recent political debates, I’d say that is as true today as when David looked around in his day and felt controlled and manipulated by people.

    Manipulation is evident in every newscast, in staff meetings, in social media posts….just daily dealing with people. And as always, Bob, I appreciate how you turn the spotlight on ourselves and our own words. How often do we use our words to try to control and manipulate people, situations, God Himself? And how foolish!! God knows our hearts already – He isn’t going to fall for our shenanigans.

    I am reminded of a couple of thoughts – one, Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:37 – “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.” and the adage “Talk less, say more.” This is an opportunity to ask for discernment from the Holy Spirit – to discern my own speech, motives and efforts at manipulation, as well as to know when I am being oppressed and lied to.

    David always turns back to trust in the Lord, as the world fails us every time and Psalm 12 is no exception – again I like the way the NIV stated verses 7-8 “You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.”

    May I talk less and say more. May I listen more to God’s voice and allow His discernment to guide me. Let the wicked strut about…as for me, I put my trust in God.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise. I feel that God has directed this study of the Psalms for the times in which we live. I use the Psalms for intercession, but I also have to use them for introspection, too. As always, your comments are valued.


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