Up and Vanished – Psalm 12

Many of us spend hours gathering clues, watching for evidence, and hearing interviews from our favorite true crime podcasts and documentaries. What draws people to listen to this content that continues to grow in popularity?

Mysteries grab our attention, and we all have a desire to solve puzzles. It is thrilling to dive into a great escape and try to track down a criminal.

Nancy Drew mysteries drew me into sleuthing at an early age. She was fierce and fearless and willing to do almost anything to crack the case. Years later, I graduated to suspense mysteries from Sue Grafton and Di’Ann Mills. Those books can be hard to put down.

Psalm 12 begins with a mystery and a desperate cry for help.

1 Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. (Psalm 12:1 ESV)


The word grabs the reader and catches in the throat. It conjures up the idea of someone being here one minute and gone the next. What is it like to live in a world where all the godly have disappeared?  

They must have been there at one time. Now the landscape is bleak and dark, and the psalmist feels abandoned.

2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:2 ESV)

Lies pop up everywhere.  

When God feels far away can we expect anyone to tell the truth?

Do people owe us the truth?

Is there more deception now than before?

In our current age, the rise of fake news and the conflict it has led to has created trauma for so many. Deception puts us all on edge. In reality, false information has been spread since the dawn of time.

Thousands of years ago, when Jesus rose from the dead, their superiors instructed the Roman soldiers to carry out a fake news campaign to discredit this report.

Here the psalmist calls attention to some particularities about the lies surrounding him.

Lies between neighbors, who should watch out for each other.

Lies from lips that seek to deceive and flatter.

Lies from the “double-hearted,” are those who say one thing and do another.

A lie from a stranger is complex, but deception caused by those who share a community feels particularly painful. Someone who seeks to manipulate us with kind words intended to build us up loses all our trust when the truth is revealed. To deal with someone who tells you directly one thing, and then does the opposite, leaves you doubting yourself.

Did I misunderstand?

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (Psalm 12:3-4 ESV)

The psalmist calls out to God for justice.

Words have power. Threatening words, boastful claims, and media campaigns prove to be a force that brings destruction, risks, and danger.

Tongues may appear to prevail, but God will act.  

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” (Psalm 12:5 ESV)

God responds to injustice with a promise. He will place his people in the safety that they long for. Is that safety in a physical location? Sometimes God calls us into His protective presence where He will refresh us to endure. Sometimes He chooses to relocate us into a better place.

6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.
7 You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. (Psalm 12:6-7 ESV)

His word, pure and refined, strikes a contrast to the deceptive terms of the world. Spending time in God’s word gives us refuge.

8 On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. (Psalm 12:8 ESV)

This final verse of Palm 12 reveals the cyclical nature of sin. It does come back around and around. When society as a whole permits evil to grow, it will. It is much like a weed in our garden reappearing even after it has been rooted out.  

Someday God will prevail completely, and Jesus will rule over the Kingdom. We will inhabit a new heaven and new earth. Until then, we must reside in a mystery that won’t be solved. God calls us to trust Him, even when we feel abandoned. Because you promised, and “you will guard us from this generation forever.” Today I choose to stand by that promise.

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