For the music director, according to the sheminith style;[b] a psalm of David.
12 Deliver, Lord! For the godly[c] have disappeared;[d] people of integrity[e] have vanished.[f] 2 People lie to one another;[g] they flatter and deceive.[h] 3 May the Lord cut off[i] all flattering lips, and the tongue that boasts![j]
Psalm 12:1snPsalm 12. The psalmist asks the Lord to intervene, for society is overrun by deceitful, arrogant oppressors and godly individuals are a dying breed. When the Lord announces his intention to defend the oppressed, the psalmist affirms his confidence in the divine promise.
Psalm 12:1tn The meaning of the Hebrew term שְׁמִינִית (sheminit) is uncertain; perhaps it refers to a particular style of music. See 1 Chr 15:21.
Psalm 12:1tn The singular form is collective or representative. Note the plural form “faithful [ones]” in the following line. A “godly [one]” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 18:25; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).
Psalm 12:1tnHeb “the faithful [ones] from the sons of man.”
Psalm 12:1tn The Hebrew verb פָּסַס (pasas) occurs only here. An Akkadian cognate means “efface, blot out.”
Psalm 12:2tnHeb “falsehood they speak, a man with his neighbor.” The imperfect verb forms in v. 2 describe what is typical in the psalmist’s experience.
Psalm 12:2tnHeb “[with] a lip of smoothness, with a heart and a heart they speak.” Speaking a “smooth” word refers to deceptive flattery (cf. Ps 5:9; 55:21; Prov 2:16; 5:3; 7:5, 21; 26:28; 28:23; Isa 30:10). “Heart” here refers to their mind, from which their motives and intentions originate. The repetition of the noun indicates diversity (see GKC 396 §123.f, IBHS 116 §7.2.3c, and Deut 25:13, where the phrase “weight and a weight” refers to two different measuring weights). These people have two different types of “hearts.” Their flattering words seem to express kind motives and intentions, but this outward display does not really reflect their true motives. Their real “heart” is filled with evil thoughts and destructive intentions. The “heart” that is seemingly displayed through their words is far different from the real “heart” they keep disguised. (For the idea see Ps 28:3.) In 1 Chr 12:33 the phrase “without a heart and a heart” means “undivided loyalty.”
Psalm 12:3tn The verb form is a jussive, indicating that the statement is imprecatory (“May the Lord cut off”), not indicative (“The Lord will cut off”; see also Ps 109:15 and Mal 2:12). The psalmist appeals to God to destroy the wicked, rather than simply stating his confidence that he will. In this way he seeks to activate divine judgment by appealing to God’s just character. For an example of the power of such a curse, see Judg 9:7-57.
Psalm 12:3tnHeb “a tongue speaking great [things].”
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