Daily Family Worship

Psalm 12: Good Thoughts in Bad Times

by | Apr 7, 2024

psalm 12

One of the most precious thoughts that we can take away from this Psalm is found in its first two words: “Help, Lord!” This prayer is very remarkable – for it is indeed short; but in its meaning, it is both suggestive and seasonable. David mourned the fewness of faithful people in the age of general apostacy in which he lived; and therefore, he lifted up his heart in supplication. When the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried out for help; but at the same time, he intended to honestly exert himself on behalf of the cause of truth, for the word help is inapplicable if we ourselves do nothing. There is very much directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words – much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain persons who profess (and only profess) to be a follower of the Lord Jesus. See how the Psalmist runs straightforward to his God with a well-considered prayer! He knows what he is seeking, and he knows where to seek it. May the Lord teach us to pray in this same blessed manner!

The various occasions for the use of this prayer are very frequent. In Providential afflictions, how suitable it is for sorrowful believers who find all helpers failing them! Students of the Word, in all doctrinal difficulties, may always obtain wisdom by lifting up this cry – “Help, Lord!” – to the Holy Spirit, the Great Teacher. Spiritual warriors, in all their inward conflicts, may send a message to the throne of grace for reinforcements; and David’s prayer will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labor may also use this petition to obtain grace in their times of need. Seeking sinners, in their doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication. In fact, in all of these cases and places, this prayer – “Help, Lord!” – will serve every need of every needy soul. “Help, Lord!” Those words will bring down upon us everything that we need – whether in life or death, in suffering or laboring, and in rejoicing or sorrowing. In Jesus, our help is found; let us not be slack to cry out to Him for that help which He is so willing to bestow! Let us not forget, either, that the answer to this prayer is certain if it is sincerely offered through Jesus’ name. The Lord’s character assures us that He will not leave His people. His relationship to us as our Father and our Husband guarantees us His aid. His Gift of Jesus is a pledge and a promise to us of every other good thing. His sure promise stands firm: “Fear not, I will help thee!”

In addition to the sense in which this Psalm prays for help in dealing with all those wicked persons whose noxious fumes of evil pollute society in general, we may also discern here a heavy complaint against those who introduce human doctrines in the place of the Word of God. By various new teachings that they have devised from their own brains, they disturb the Church; they fill all things with a whitewash-show of religion, and with the outward daubing of Pharisaism and hypocrisy. Hence it comes to pass that wicked men and hypocrites reign on every side, as the last verse complains. For when human doctrines have once invaded the Church, they go on to rage far and wide – and it is no small wonder, then, that society runs headlong into all manner of depravity, wickedness, and immorality; for instead of the Church having a purifying influence upon society, the corruption that starts within her walls spreads out in all directions like a cancer. Alas! To the human observer, there seems to be no end to these crooked and destructive influences; they seemingly take possession of all things, making it appear as if the number of the true saints who fear God is few and small indeed. “Help, Lord,” in such a time as this!

But we are also consoled and comforted under all these afflictions by the consideration that God always raises up His salvation in His Church. Whenever and wherever His faithful ministers preach His Word and His Gospel, and boldly and plainly teach against all heresy, they detect and bring to light false doctrines, and overturn all false worship. Wherever the salvation of God – that is, the saving Word of Jesus and His Gospel – is brought and preached, it burns up and consumes all the chaff and straw of human traditions, like a suddenly kindled fire. It delivers and enlightens oppressed consciences. This, however, never takes place without afflictions and the cross, in various forms. But just as gold and silver are purified and refined by the fire; so also, the true knowledge and purity of the Word are not preserved in the Church, except by the means of the truly spiritual and Godly – who, for the Word’s sake – are exercised without and within by various afflictions. These persons, like gold, are proved and purified in the fire; and thus they grow daily and flourish in the knowledge of the Gospel, and in the great things of the Lord.

Thank You, Lord, that at times when Your people groan, and when matters seem to be most discouraging – then we are assured that our Jesus is near at hand, and that deliverance is at the very door! Amen.

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