Psalm 12 Sermon From September 2012 Prayer Service
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / September 5th 2012: Season of Pentecost, Psalm 12 "The Proud Versus The Pure"
Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the LORD;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
You, O LORD, will keep them;
You will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.
Let us pray:May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all are hearts be acceptable in your sight O, Lord. Amen.
Grace, peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Good Christian Friends. Psalm 12 is the proud versus the pure. The proud words of men versus the pure word of God. King David calls out in the midst of trouble, the trouble isn’t one of sword and shield; the trouble is one of lies and falsehoods. David doesn’t turn to his sword to fell the deceitful men and women teaching falsehood as truth, no David turns to God in prayer, asking for His help, trusting in the promised salvation which is to come from God, and placing his trust in the Word God gave, knowing that it is true.
From time to time the children of Israel had to contend with teachers, and priests, who taught falsely either by word and/or by deed; David would have heard of men like Hophni and Phinehas (Who did not know the LORD), they were the sons of Eli the Judge who took Hanna’s firstborn son Samuel under his roof as a boy. King David knew Samuel, Samuel who was the last Judge of Isreal before king Saul; it was Samuel who came to David’s father Jessie’s house and anointed David king over Israel. This same Samuel as a young boy saw that Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were worthless men and that they had been proud and evil men, who only appeared honourable because they were priests, Samuel knew that they were in fact evil liars who stole sacrifices from God to fill their bellies and who had adulterous relations with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. From the sacrifices Hophni and Phinehas took the best parts for themselves in a way that was not right.They treated the burnt offerings as their own personal BBQ and they treated the whole people of Israel as their own chattel to do with as they pleased, they plundered the poor, they made the needy groan. And God did not approve. A man of God came to their father, Eli the Judge, and spoke a word from the Lord that Eli’s household and his sons likewise were to be removed from their place of service because of all these evil things and because of their disregard for the Word of God, and that it would be a sign to Eli that this had happened when his two sons Hophni and Phinehas died on the same day. This is exactly what happened in the battle at Ebenezer, when the Philistiens made off with the Ark of the Covenant. When word came back to Eli, Phinehas’ wife heavy with child went into labour and she named Phinehas’ infant son Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed from Israel!” Eli at the news, that his two sons had died and that the ark was stolen by the Philistines, fell from his chair and broke his neck and died.
David is praying to God that in David’s own time God would again show displeasure towards the ones who “[speak with] flattering lips and a double heart” the ones who act as if their desires and opinions mattered more than the pure word of God found in Holy Scripture! That God would take action against those who plundered the poor, and made the needy groan! David feels the wicked prowling around on every side, he sees vileness exalted among the children of man, and he calls for salvation, salvation from those who believe that they will prevail by the false prideful words of their lips; salvation from the ones who think that they can just keep talking till everything goes their way: salvation from the ones who ask “who is master over us?” believing that the answer is ‘no one!’
Are you set upon by a seemingly prevailing ungodliness in the world! Are you troubled by smooth tempting lies in the world around you? Falsehoods paraded as truths! Wickedness dressed in light? “Smooth lies include every false teaching which is hidden in [devout, yet] deceptive words. Today, disrespect for the word of God is masked with pious platitudes about honouring Christ as the Word of God. As if one could honour one without the other! [Unfaithful] Theologians call the story of Adam and Eve true, but they mean [in their opinion that the story] is as true as Aesop’s fables. Rare indeed is the false teacher who says, “I am a false teacher, and I would like to help you go to hell.”” Even scoundrels from the history of the Israelites like Hophni and Phinehas would have believed that they were doing as was acceptable, and would on some level look ‘holy’ to the casual observer.
In 2nd Corinthians, Saint Paul warns of “false apostles, [and] deceitful workmen, [who disguise] themselves as apostles of Christ.” Paul continues to say that it’s “no wonder [that they disguise themselves], for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” In Psalm 12 king David prays that this would come to pass! Because David is concerned just as St Paul was when Saint Paul likewise wrote to young Pastor Timothy warning that “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,”
Both Saint Paul and King David are concerned with words.
You may remember the nursery rhyme that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones; But words will never hurt me” Psalm 12 is very concerned with words, very concerned with the proud words of men verse the pure word of God. If evil words, if proud and arrogant words, if false words don’t hurt, don’t harm, don’t cause trouble then the Good words of Jesus’ Good News, the Good Word of the Gospel would work no healing or comfort or salvation. It is precisely because evil words cut down and harm that God uses His Word to heal and show mercy! God’s Word brings mercy to the brokenhearted and wounded, and it brings justice and judgment to the wicked. The Book of Hebrews says, that, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It can do what King David is asking for! The Pure Word of God will keep the poor and the needy, The Pure Word of God will keep the faithful in times of trouble; The Word of the Lord will guard us from this wicked prideful generation, forever!
But how? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” It is “the Word [that] became flesh and dwelt among us, and [Saint John and the disciples attest to the fact that they] have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This Word of the Lord is Christ Jesus, and He is the one who saves, He saves just as David asks! Jesus abhors lies, Jesus cuts off all flattering lips, [He stops them up], Jesus takes the tongues that makes great boasts, and He makes them silent for fear of being exposed in their wickedness! He makes their ground into sinking sand; He exposed their foundation for what it is, while He (The very Word of God) becomes the true and sure foundation, the salvation of the poor and needy, of the sinful and of the lost.
We in our day, likewise have teachers, pastors, priests and others who like Hophni and Phinehas live life as though God didn’t exist, who preach and teach as if Jesus had never been raised from the dead, who abstain from laying bear the evils of sin in the life of people. Nothing would have pleased God more than if Hophni and Phinehas would have, after having been shown the errors of their ways, returned to God seeking forgiveness; just as it is Christ’s desire to have all teachers, pastors, and priests live lives of repentance, where they regularly turn to God’s Word and His Sacraments for forgiveness and comfort; In the Old Testament book of Joel we are promised that God loves us and that we are to “Return to the LORD [our] God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.” King David likewise prays for this in Psalm 12 and it is our prayer today! All the things that David asks for he puts it into God’s Almighty Hands: Do likewise when you pray, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
If you have been one of the ones with the proud words of men in your mouth, if you have spoken falsehoods or lies, keep in mind that the pure Words of the Gospel are for you: and keep in mind that, “through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,” you likewise have had forgiveness won for you, because it was Jesus, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” Jesus will forgive you, Jesus will guard your heart and mind with His word; Even when all looks lost, and the enemy is near! Trust in Him: He is the Pure Word of God. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.”
1 Samuel 2:12
1 Samuel 2:22
1 Samuel 2:12-17
1 Samuel 2:31-34
1 Samuel 4:1-11
1 Samuel 4:12-22
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
1 Timothy 6:3-4
 Cuples, George (1872). Tappy's Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature, p.78. Strahan & Co.
2 Timothy 1:10