Preserve Words, Men, the Poor?
There has been a lot of discussion about the meaning of the verses in this psalm. Is God promising to preserve godly men, the poor, or His Words? Here is my interpretation of Psalm 12:7 in context.
- 1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
- 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
- 3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
- 4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
- 5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.
- 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
- 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
- 8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
In verse 1 the main point of this Psalm is set forth that the “godly man” ceaseth, but the “words of the Lord” do not. This psalm discusses the use of language repeatedly.
Verse 2 says godly men fall into apostasy and “speak vanity” and use “flattering lips” and “speak” with a hypocritical “double heart.” This is expanded upon in Isaiah where it says they draw nigh to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
In verse 3 the Lord promises to cut off the flattering lips of apostate godly men who speak proud things.
In verse 4 it says that apostate godly men are their own authority. With their own “tongue” they will prevail, and with their “lips” they can speak what they want, there is not an authority greater than their own “tongue.”
Why a Solution is Required
In verse 5 God is setting up why He is going to promise something later in the psalm. God says, for the sake of the “poor” and “needy,” He will rise to the occasion and protect them from these apostate godly men who are proud and speak with a “double heart,” whose own “lips” are their final authority. Now did you catch that? God is talking about protecting the poor and needy babes from the godly men whose tongue is their final authority.
Verse 6 continues the setup of His point by saying what is said all over this Bible, that God’s words are the only things that are pure, and by obvious contrast, godly men are not pure. God then says something very prophetic; He mentions seven fold purification. I know that on the surface it seems only to be a reference to the purity of the words of God. However, there are some that interpret this in reference to the reformation English Bibles.
In verse 7, God says, that He shall preserve them (His words from the preceding verse) from this generation for ever. In my mind He clearly is promising to preserve his pure words for all generations because the godly man ceaseth, and He will do this to help the poor and needy. So in a sense, God is promising to preserve Himself a people (a remnant if you will), but only through the preservation of His holy words. The Lord’s word is a light to your path, how else shall a young man cleanse his way? God is saying that godly men fall away and pervert the living words of the living God, and only through the preservation of His words can the poor and needy find safety.
God closes with verse 8 with the wickedness that will be rampant when the godly man ceaseth. This will be a time when the vilest men are exalted, and this wickedness is only rebuffed by God’s holy preserved words, the sword of the Lord. I believe this psalm is for the day we currently live in more than any other, and its distortion in the modern versions is very telling about the “godly men” who were their translators.