In this Psalm David is referring not only to believing men of his own time, but to men in our own day. I have watched in pity, awe and shame, as godly men have turned their hands from the plough for no good reason. I am very aware of what it is like to do so, and I fear what would happen to me if I did the same. (I have come close).
When the godly man stops his work, or lapses in his godliness, his decision to do so affects many, many others, even if he does not know they are watching him! This is in my mind always. Of course, it is possible to keep doing or saying things just to maintain an aura of godliness. This will be found-out at some time, because one cannot keep up pretence over time. The Lord Himself will deal with such fakery, for He cannot allow His children to live a lie.
This Psalm was given by David to the “Chief Musician upon Sheminith”, who also led worship for Psalm six. The sheminith was an eight-stringed instrument, but in this Psalm it refers to the lowest notes - bass - sung by male voices. This was probably David’s way of using voices to denote the gravest of topics, which we find in this Psalm. (We do not find female singers in Temple choirs).
Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
David calls out to God from his heart. He is calling out to the Lord for salvation from a situation, the situation being that godly men have ceased. The ‘godly’ man, chaciyd, means the man who is holy, faithful (to God and thus to men), pious, a ‘saint of Jehovah’. Though not expressed directly, it includes the idea of being of excellent character, righteous and good. Such men existed, as they do today, but evidently they have become less than holy, living sinful lives.
The “godly man ceaseth”, gamar: he has failed, as the next phrase indicates, becoming imperfect and useless. He was once faithful and established in his faith, but has now failed. He has “(failed) from among he children of men.” That is, he has disappeared, vanished completely. This is a fearful state to be in, not just for the one who was once faithful, but also for the people. Though it ought not be that way, the majority of Christians live through the faithfulness of their pastors and ‘leaders’. So, if the pastor fails, so does the local church. Maybe not in the same way, but in general ways. Because of their reliance they have no sure foundation on which to base their faith and knowledge… the failed pastor has taken it all with him! Of course, this should prompt the people to gather their wits and begin to at last gain their own knowledge and to have faith of their own. But, as the plea from David tells us, this does not happen often; most will just collapse. This happened in David’s day, too.
Who failed in the time of David? We are not told, but the problem is obviously of some importance to David, and is widespread. Pastors of today must bear witness not only to God, but also to themselves, for fellow Christians watch them like hawks, for better or for ill. What he says and does will influence many others. When he fails, and if most others also fail, there is a domino effect; society itself falls.
As I have said elsewhere, this general failure in spiritual ‘leaders’ and pastors is the direct reason why Western countries have become so unstable and immoral, with politicians who will one day answer for their wickedness to God. So, for “the godly man ceaseth” insert the words ‘When YOU fail’. Note that when he fails, he leaves the scene and is no more. Who should have been a pillar of church and society, has shown himself to be destitute of piety and holiness. The effects can be dramatic.
Unreal Christians sometimes question my statements about failed Christians. Surely, they say, genuine pastors and others do not act this way? Yes, they do, and will sink to the lowest standards. This is explained by the barrier put there by God; he has crossed the threshhold beyond which no man should step, a taboo. When a Christian does that, he deliberately leaves God behind and joins the netherworld of wicked men, sometime becoming worse than the unsaved. Surely not!
Yes, a saved man can sink into a pit of evil, and will probably be far worse than others. This is what David is describing! And I have witnessed it many times. It only takes one action to cross a taboo set by God. This is like opening a flood-gate, letting in a massive wave of evil that the Holy Spirit once kept at bay through the man’s holiness. Do not underestimate this control by God. And do not underestimate the depths to which saved people can sink when they openly defy God through sin.
Such failed Christians soon join those they once spoke against. They speak “vanity every one with his neighbour”. That is, they tittle-tattle aimlessly – rather like all those foolish people who chatter on mobile ‘phones all day, spending good money to utter stupid remarks and useless information. They chat endlessly and aimlessly, empty, as empty as their minds, making what they do worthless. It can also include lying just for effect, or to create a misery for others. And they speak this way with everyone else, who also talk worthlessly.
I am known as one who only speaks occasionally, if I have something to say. I like joking sometimes, but even then I restrict what I say, preferring to listen… when I pick up many nuances and facts! Other than that I never approach people just to chatter, nor do I use a mobile ‘phone for anything other than vital messages, which are very few. I just think empty talk is useless, without value, and is not a godly activity. I know people, including Christians, who can talk seamlessly for hours about everything and nothing! These I tend to avoid.
David says everyone is doing the same thing. Christians are not free to join the throng just because everyone is doing it. We must be selective about who we speak to and what we say, always presenting truth and holiness. Yes, we sometimes fail to do so, but this should be momentary, not habitual.
When a person gets into this constant chatter mode, it often develops into flattery…saying things you do not mean, but saying it anyway to gain advantage and to make others feel special without reason. Politicians do this, as do people in public life who need everyone’s approval.
Many pastors talk this way, avoiding anything controversial, so that ‘their’ churches do not get rid of them. As Christians we should always be truthful. But, we should not always ‘call a spade a spade’… because this can be taken as rudeness or an attempt to destroy another with bluntness that leaves no room for the other person to come away with a degree of wholeness. We must be straight-talking when necessary; otherwise we should take care not to crush.
Do not flatter, then – be open and honest. Those who flatter also have a ‘double heart’. In other words, they never speak truthfully but always have an ‘agenda’. No man can trust someone with a double heart! Christians must always speak honestly. This does not mean always telling people everything… because that can cause trouble or problems. We must be honest and yet be careful. ‘Wearing your heart on your sleeve’ is not recommended, because it can make you a target by ruthless people, who will use your emotional state against you. The double-hearted man says one thing but thinks another, always hiding the truth from you. This is never good because it is hypocritical.
The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:
Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?
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.
Remember, David is talking here about believers failing, not about the general unsaved population. God will judge us, even before our life’s end. He will show us up when we think we have got away with it. He will “cut off all flattering lips”; He will stop what we are doing. It can also mean to cut a covenant. In the Jewish sense, those who once believed and acted piously, would be cast out of Israel as unbelievers. Christians are never cast out from Heaven, but God will and does cut them off on this earth, if they refuse admonition, rebuke and counsel.
Once we reach that stage, there is no turning back and we will live in perpetual misery or denial. This is why so many failed Christians work day and night, or fill their time with activities… it stops them thinking deeply, or about the miserable existence they have given themselves by rejecting God’s ways. So, stop flattery, and stop using your tongue to the detriment of others; “proud things”, haughty. God WILL stop those who defy Him and turn away from faith!
Of course, the same pride that takes a man away from God will also cause him to think he is safe. After all, he says, God has done nothing to me so far – I can say and do what I like. Not so! Remember that the most heinous condition on earth is to be without the presence of God. So, even if God does not strike you down dead, or with an affliction, He will just remove Himself from you, and you will be alone. Even in the midst of many friends and family, wife and children, you will always be alone, fearful, anxious, devoid of all things godly. “Who is lord over us?” God is! Even when we fail and turn back to our own vomit.
The man who has failed in faith will turn to all manner of sin, if only in his head. He will oppress the poor and ignore those in need. That is when God says “Now will I arise”. He will not just deal with the one who is oppressive, but will set the one being oppressed in a place of safety, “(from him that) puffeth at him.” It does not necessarily mean the oppressed one will be untouched (though it can mean that), but that no matter what the sinful one says or does, it will not harm him.
We have every reason to ask God to stop the evils of others against us. We can pray for that person to be cut-down and removed. For some peculiar reason some Christians (usually those who have never known attacks, or misery at the hands of others) think it is ‘unchristian’ to call on God in this way. What is so ‘Christian’ about being attacked mercilessly, or ruined, or threatened, or crushed?
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.
Though there is no need to do so, David compares the words of men with the words of God. They are like silver tried and tried again many times: each time the result is more pure. Of course, these are words for mankind; God’s word is eternally pure and cannot ever be purer. His words do not build in power or holiness – they are always the best. We cannot really understand this kind of holiness, because we usually fail to reach the mark (the meaning of ‘sin’).
God’s words are pure. The ‘words’ are His ‘imrah, His utterances; whatever He says. Thus, everything in scripture is His ‘imrah; none of it is worthless or without meaning. This is why I assert without doubt that all of scripture is doctrine – the division between doctrine and ‘other’ suggested by modern academics is false. All of it is pure: clean, without flaw. That is why no word of God, from front cover to back, can be removed or added to, and none of it may be altered or treated with disrespect.
Today, many try to get rid of the word of God. They think it is only encapsulated in the Bible. Yes, the Bible is the word of God, but firstly it is in His ‘mind’, so is eternal and untouchable by human hands and sinful hearts. Thus, David says to God: ‘YOU will keep your words safe, O Lord; You will protect them from this evil people eternally’. Nothing mankind can do will ever rid the world, or Heaven, of God’s word, which will always be, and will always be the rule of life.
Many think that removing the Bible and making its proclamation illegal, will starve us of God. They think He is just a figment of an emotional people… starve them of the food and the idea itself will die. No! God’s word will live, no matter what evil people do or say. They are fools-extraordinary! They cannot cause God to be removed! He is watching them and will strike them down, whether in this life or the next, they are counted by Him to be useless and worthy of eternal hell. Whatever they do is like filth put against pure gold. There is no comparison, only stupidity and deception of soul. No-one can rid us of God or His word.
“The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” I have been castigated many times by humanly-pious men, who complain that I should never call human beings ‘vile’. Yet, this is what God calls them! To let them get away with their evils is to side with what they do, and helps to exalt them. The wicked, those who hate God and are unsaved, are everywhere. They try to impose their sinfulness on others, so that they can walk unimpeded by law, morality or social probity.
This is going on right now in our world, where the most vile of men do what they like. More than that, they force everyone else to do the same. They know what they do is evil, and that they can only get away with it by using law. This is a mark of their evil, a sign that what they do has no moral right behind it. No matter what ‘rights’ these people claim, they have none! Nothing sinful has a ‘right’ to exist. Yet, they win the approval of the people.
In reality it is not approval but laxity or deception. If the people were in possession of the actual facts, they may not be so easy to please. It is a truism that laws are not passed by the people, but by one or two individuals who serve their own interests; the masses could not care, so long as it does not affect their pockets or pleasure. It is a very sad fact that most Christians are like this concerning spiritual matters, too.
They do not really care how doctrine is presented, or what it contains, so long as their social outing, their day at their local church, is not marred by truth or anything that disturbs their earthly sojourn. They do not want change, and certainly do not want truth. What they want is the appearance of good, so they can sleep at night as saved men and women. Nothing else matters to them. For this reason God has judged the West, and will continue to do so, unleashing the king of the north against His sinful people, so they will know His wrath. Even when they see it, as we do now, they go on sleeping, though fitfully.
Only when the enemy is banging on their door do they become alert and try to ‘do something’! This folly will not help. They ignored the watchman on the walls for years; they ignored the need for personal purity and constant changes to their minds and hearts to remain holy. Now, suddenly, but only because it directly affects their own lives, they try to make a stand.
They panic. They form committees. They send letters. But, to no avail because the enemy has already won. He has won because God has sent him to punish His people. Now, the only answer is repentance and truth, with purity of living. And while they contemplate (and usually reject) this only answer, the wicked walk on every side and the vilest of men are put on a pedestal.
By ‘vilest’, zulluwth, is meant people who are worthless, vile; to God they are zalal – insignificant and useless, without value. This is why we must refer to them as vile! If we do not, they will convince themselves they are good, and black becomes white. Think carefully and quickly on these things, for they affect YOU, today.
© December 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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