Read: Psalm 12:1; 1 Samuel 23; 2 Kings 11:1 – 2
The historical context of this psalm is likely the days when David was pursued by Saul, particularly around the time when David learned that the inhabitants of Keilah, whom David had saved from the Philistines, were going to give him up to Saul, and shortly thereafter, when the Ziphites betrayed to Saul the location of David’s hiding place in the strongholds at Horesh (1 Samuel 23). David’s thought was, “Everyone deceives me and betrays me to Saul!” Based on the psalm’s title, “On the sheminit” (which can be interpreted as “the eighth”), several rabbinical commentators suggest that David was also speaking prophetically ahead to the eighth generation of his dynasty, when the whole royal line was threatened with extinction due to the murderous Athaliah (2 Kings 11:1 – 2) and was only saved because the infant Joash was hidden in the Temple.
Think About It: Have I ever been betrayed by a friend or friends? How is lying and falsehood involved in betrayal? Am I a faithful friend?
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being a faithful friend.
Read: Psalm 12:1; Judges 2:10 – 15; Isaiah 57:1; Micah 7:2; Luke 18:8
Spiritual decline can be a corporate phenomenon. Studies of churches and mission organizations have recognized a typical life cycle. Born in response to a need and driven by vision, the initial phase of the cycle is characterized by rapid growth; members are highly committed and motivated. The next phase of the cycle is one of clarification of purpose and development of goals and structure, during which growth continues through enthusiastic focus on the vision and ministry. At the peak of growth, the next phase of the cycle involves settling into predictable patterns. In this phase change becomes more difficult, and vision and ministry begin to be subordinated to maintaining the status quo. Inevitably growth slows, plateaus, and then begins to decline. As the decline continues, the organization enters survival phase. Resistance to change (and therefore to repentance and revival) increases, and the members are prone to look for scapegoats to blame for decline. Without revival, involving a rebirth of initial vision and renewed desire for ministry, the church or mission organization will die.
Think About It: According to Judges 2:10 – 15, what are some of the things that led to the spiritual decline of the people of Israel? What could have prevented that decline?
Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on the mission you have given me.
Read: Psalm 12:2 – 4; Proverbs 26:28; Jeremiah 9:8; Romans 16:18; James 1:8; 3:5
A time of spiritual decline is characterized according to the psalmist first of all by lying speech, and the source of lies is a double heart. While pretending to righteousness, the wicked have secret, selfish motivations. Flattery and boasting are the types of lies specifically named in Psalm 12:2 – 4.
Think About It: According to Psalm 12:4, what are boasters and flatterers trying to do? What motivates flattery? What makes flattery so pernicious? What makes boasting harmful and hurtful?
Prayer: Lord, help me to be transparent and truthful.
Read: Psalm 12:5; Exodus 3:7 – 8; Ecclesiastes 4;1; Isaiah 3:15; 59:13
A time of spiritual decline is characterized by the plundering and oppression of the poor.
Think About It: What arouses God to action according to the cross-references for Psalm 12:5? What implications does God’s response to the suffering of the poor have for me?
Prayer: Lord, may my heart be broken by the things that break Your heart.
Read: Psalm 12:1; 85:6; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:2
Psalm 12 contains not only a picture of a time of spiritual decline, but also a remedy. The very first word of the psalm is cry to the Lord– in Hebrew “Hosiah!” – meaning “Save! Deliver!” True spiritual revival is a work of God’s Spirit, not a fleshly enterprise, and must first of all be sought from the Lord.
Think About It: According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, what does God require of His people if they desire forgiveness and healing? Where does revival begin?
Prayer: Lord, may repentance and seeking after You characterize my walk with You.
Read: Psalm 12:6 – 7, 18:30, 19:8 – 10; Proverbs 30:5
Desperately needed for revival in a time of spiritual decline characterized by lies, flattery and boasting is the pure, refined, always true Word of God.
Think About It: How does Scripture help to bring about revival? How does Scripture help guard God’s people from spiritual decline, and from the actions of the wicked?
Prayer: O Lord, revive us again! May the truth of Your Word prevail!
Read: Psalm 12:8; Jeremiah 9:24; Isaiah 32:5; 1 Peter 5:8
In order to emphasize the importance of being guarded by God and His Word, the psalmist ends this psalm with these final characteristics of spiritual decline: the wicked prowl on every side, and vileness is exalted. There is no refuge in the world from the wicked – they are everywhere, in every walk of life. To “exalt” something is, in the sense of the Hebrew word that is translated “exalted,” simply to lift it up, to make it high, to boast about it.
Think About It: What are some actual ways that “vileness is exalted” in this present age? What should I exalt (2 Samuel 22:47)? How can I “exalt” the Lord?
Prayer: Blessed be my Rock, and exalted be God, the Rock of my salvation!