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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 12



Verse 1

Psalms 12:1. Help, Lord — Hebrew, הושׁיעה, hoshigna, save, Jehovah; namely, me and other good men, from the subtlety and rage of wicked men; for the godly man ceaseth — חסיד, chasid, the kind, or, merciful man, as the word properly means. The faithful fail, &c. — Men have lost, not only serious piety, that even truth and honesty in their conversation and dealings with men. “The universal depravity of Jew and Gentile caused the church of old to pray earnestly for the first advent of Christ; and a like depravity among those who call themselves Christians may induce her to pray no less earnestly for this appearance the second time unto salvation.” — Horne.

Verse 2

Psalms 12:2. They speak vanity — Or, falsehood, which is a vain thing, and wants the solidity of truth. With a double heart do they speak — See the margin. They speak as if they had two hearts, the one inclining them to hate their neighbour, and form designs against him, and the other to prompt the tongue to pretend a friendship for him. “When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed. The primitive sincerity will accompany the primitive piety in her flight from the earth; and then interest will succeed conscience in the regulation of human conduct, till one man cannot trust another further than he holds him by that tie.”

Verse 3

Psalms 12:3. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips — All such as speak kind things to any one, at the same time that they mean quite the contrary in their hearts; and the tongue that speaketh proud things — Hebrew, גדלות, gedoleth, great things, or, great words, boasting what they have done, or declaring, or threatening what they will do, and what great things they will effect, namely, with their tongues, as they themselves explain it in the next words.

Verse 4

Psalms 12:4. With our tongues will we prevail — By raising and spreading evil reports concerning him. We will have the better of all that oppose us; and our tongues are the instruments whereby we will get the victory. Our lips are our own — At our own disposal to speak what we please. Who is lord over us? — Who can, or has any right to control us; or to call us to an account?

Verse 5

Psalms 12:5. For the oppression of the poor — Because the poor that put their trust in me, and send up their prayers to me for help, are thus oppressed; now will I arise, saith the Lord — Speedily, sooner than they imagine or expect. I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him — That despises him, and hopes to destroy him with a puff of breath. “The beauty and energy of this fine prosopopœia,” says Dr. Dodd, “must be felt by every reader.” When oppressors are in the height of their pride and insolence; when they say, Who is lord over us? then is God’s time to let them know, to their cost, that he is above them. And when the oppressed are in the depth of their distress and despondency; when they are sighing like Israel in Egypt, by reason of the cruel bondage, then is God’s time to appear for them, as he did for Israel when they were dejected, and Pharaoh was most elevated and determined to carry things with a high hand.

Verse 6

Psalms 12:6. The words of the Lord are pure — Without the least mixture of falsehood, and therefore shall be infallibly fulfilled. Men often speak rashly, and promise what they cannot perform, and deceitfully, what they never intend to perform. But God’s words are different; they are pure from all manner of dross; from all folly, or fraud, or uncertainty. “Often have they been put to the test, in the trials of the faithful, like silver committed to the furnace in an earthen crucible; but, like silver in its most refined and exalted purity, found to contain no dross. The words of Jehovah are holy in his precepts, just in his laws, gracious in his promises, significant in his institutions, true in his narrations, and infallible in his predictions. What are thousands of gold and silver, compared to the treasures of the sacred page?” — Horne.

Verse 7

Psalms 12:7. Thou shalt keep them — Thy words or promises last mentioned. Hebrew, תשׁמרם, tishmerem, thou wilt observe them; and what thou hast promised shall surely be performed, since with thee is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Thou wilt preserve them — Hebrew, תצרני, titzrennu thou wilt keep him, that is, thy poor and lowly servant, (spoken of Psalms 12:5,) from the craft and malice of this crooked and perverse generation of men, so that he shall neither be circumvented by treachery, nor crushed by power; and thou wilt keep him undefiled amid a corrupt age; and all that trust in and cleave to thee from generation to generation.

Verse 8

Psalms 12:8. The wicked walk on every side — They fill all places, and go about boldly and securely, seeking to deceive, corrupt, and destroy others, being neither afraid nor ashamed to discover themselves; when the vilest of men are exalted — To places of trust and power, who, instead of putting the laws in execution against vice and injustice, and punishing the wicked according to their deserts, patronize and protect them, or give them countenance and support by their own example. The Hebrew, כרם זלות, cherum zulloth, is literally, when vilenesses are exalted, when all manner of wickedness, lying, slandering, profaneness, oppression, cruelty, and the like, instead of being punished and suppressed, are countenanced and encouraged by magistrates and persons of power and influence. Both these interpretations come to one. For when vile persons are exalted, so also are vile practices. Both these, it appears, were advanced and encouraged under Saul’s government, which caused David to complain that the foundations were destroyed, Psalms 11:3 .


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 12:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

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