February 4, 2015.
Daily Reading: Psalm 12-14.
Background: Psalm 9-11.
Concepts and Connections.
A smooth tongue: It is very true that a smooth tongue can get a person into a lot of trouble. James calls the tongue a fire, a world of unrighteousness that no man can tame (see James 3:2-12). In this psalm, David cites a world of unrighteousness where men utter lies to their neighbor with a flattering tongue. It is amazing how great masses of people can be lead by one who has a smooth tongue, no matter what their message. If you put a charismatic leader in front of people, there will be a number who follow. This has been shown time and again throughout history, not the least of which Hitler would serve as an example, leading Nazi Germany to genocide. The tongue has been used to manipulate and coerce mankind since the fall, as the deceiver first caused Eve to fall by use of a clever lie. Proverbs 26:28 says that a flattering mouth works ruin. Paul warns of those who use smooth talk and words of flattery to cause division and teach false doctrine (see Romans 16:17-19). We can see how deadly this small member of our body can be. We must always be on guard to bridle our tongue to keep from using words of flattery to teach false doctrine or to manipulate. Neither are of God.
Bold questions: One of the great things about the psalms is they often give us a window into the prayer life of many godly men, painting what is probably a much different picture of what our prayers look like. David here uses very bold language with God, asking Him where He has been and why bad things were happening to him. David sends up some bold questions to God, not unlike the questions that Job asks God when he is in the bitterness of his affliction (see Job 7, specifically verse 19). Anyone who has been in a situation that they feel like God has forgotten about them can relate to the psalmist here. Sometimes we go through trials and tribulations and start to question God as David and Job did, and that’s okay. It’s okay to say a bold prayer, it’s okay to ask bold questions. Actually, it is probably much more relevant to say a candid prayer than to say a guarded prayer where we are not actually being real with God. If we are to have a relationship with the Lord, then we need to pursue a real relationship with Him. David understood that, and this understanding can be seen in many of His psalms. Other characters in the Old Testament had very real conversations with God, such as Abraham bargaining with God over the destruction of Sodom and Moses pleading with the Lord over the destruction of His people (see Genesis 18:22-33 and Exodus 32:1-14). It is okay to ask some bold questions to God, but we need to be ready for His answer. Job got a strong answer from the Lord (see Job 38-42). David ends this psalm in praise. If we ask God bold questions, we need to remember who He is and that He hasn’t actually left us, and then be prepared for a bold answer.
There is none who does good, no not one: “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God.'” This psalm highlights the wickedness of mankind and some of it is cited by Paul in Romans 3 when he addresses this same issue in more detail. What is being conveyed is that there is no human on earth that has lived a holy and blameless life before God. All have sinned, all have fallen short. When the Lord looks for one, He finds none. This is what makes Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross so significant; He was the only one to live a perfect life. He was the only one who didn’t deserve to die in this fallen world. He is the one who was righteous. But He chose to die in our stead, that though we are unrighteous, we might be washed in His blood that was shed on the cross and be cleansed from our unrighteousness (see Hebrews 9:11-14). The psalmist here is specifically referencing the wickedness he sees in the world around him and calls for God to establish His righteousness in the place of the wicked. He calls for salvation out of Zion, which would ultimately come through the sacrifice of the Christ.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Job 9-10.
Say a bold prayer.