Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Trust Me, I'm a Liar!

Image from The Peanut Gallery
Save, O Lᴏʀᴅ, 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 Lᴏʀᴅ 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 Lᴏʀᴅ;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lᴏʀᴅ are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

You, O Lᴏʀᴅ, 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.  (Psalm 12)

Men and women are forgetful.  They forget needful tasks, important dates, and where keys or glasses are laid; but most of all, they forget their God—forgetfulness from neglect.  In this psalm, King David lamented the widespread ruin in society.  Godly character was nonexistent.  People lied to one another regularly, even boasting of their own greatness, simultaneously deceiving and being deceived, and with inconsistency and instability holding opposing feelings towards the same object.  So degraded was the condition that
two people when talking to each other have exactly the same intention of deceiving the other.  In fact, both strive to get the better of the other by smooth and duplicitous speech: it is not that one tells lies and the other speaks in a trustworthy manner, nor that one party only is involved in deception—rather, the business of deceit is found equally in both.*
The people proudly declared themselves free from any authority that might be placed on them to curb their libertine use of language for self-interests.

Does this condition sound familiar?  We consider this conduct typical among political rivals.  Whether a congressional bill, a contract, or an international treaty or trade agreement, negotiators hammer out details to the advantage of the principal party represented.  However, the situation described in the psalm is much worse: it was occurring among God’s elect.  Those who knew the Law would have understood the Lawgiver’s standard of uprightness to be practiced among His people, yet here we have described what would apparently by those in authority performing the opposite.  David calls out to the Lord to cut off the language and the prideful condition behind it, and He responds.  In contradistinction to the false words of the haughty, the words of the Righteous One are pure and true.  Those abused and bereft because of the crafty, deceptive vocabulary are reassured by sure promises and faithful sayings: comfort and safety are found in them.  The haughty found strength in their own words; the humble found strength in God’s words, because they are founded in the Eternal One.

Evil men continue to decline as they follow after their own plans and pursuits.  Rather than running to the fount of forgiveness, they choose to pursue their own path and revel in their sin while maintaining a veneer of “religiousness.”†  The wicked seek to silence the righteous either by annihilation or assimilation into a man-made unity.  The Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, entered this world by taking on human flesh.  The living, active Word walked among us for a time and allowed sinful men to kill Him, so that He might redeem the world.  The One, whom a few attempted to expunge, became the very message proclaimed to the world: He died for your sin; believe it.  The world tried to eradicate righteousness personified and continue in its sin, but by the cross Jesus reconciled the world to God and God to the world.  They forgot the Word, but He did not forget them.  What men did from wicked motives, God worked for their salvation.

*  Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on Psalms 1-81
†  Read the book of Malachi to see how this happened in Judah.

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