“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.
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.
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.”
This comes at a great time for me, personally, as my best and closest friend is gone for quite a while so I find myself seeking the comfort of God even more. In the last chapter, David expressed sorrow for the ones who were telling him to flee from the wicked around him- most likely these were people near him, maybe friends, offering advice based on what they saw. Now we see David feeling a lack of ‘quality’ comfort from friends so instead seeking God. Perhaps he has learned that the comfort of friends, while pleasant to have someone physically present to hear his woes and troubles, don’t offer the comfort he actually needs. God certainly is good to provide us with close friends who can listen and offer solid advice, and if you have such a friend in your life you know they are very dear and spiritually gifted people, but God also calls us to draw near to Him. It is good to learn when God wants you nearer to Him, and when He wants you to tap into that friends’ gift He put in your life.
As always, David doesn’t beat around the bush. He begins with the obvious plea to God, “Help, Lord”. It’s not clear if David had a friend he watched fall away from the Lord, perhaps someone who was part of his regular time of fellowship, even, whom others would have known too and were unable to help. Maybe he felt the advice he’d received from friends he had perceived as spiritual turned out to not be what he expected. We also learn that David battled gossip, too, so maybe someone he had trusted with something deep had turned on him and raised strife among his friends. Whatever the case, it is clear that David had been hurt and his immediate reaction was to turn to God.
Have you ever been there? Maybe you told someone something you were battling with, and they went to tell someone else, maybe not even in a malicious way but to seek advice from someone they trusted, but it only resulted in unwanted gossip and the breaking up of friendships. It hurts, when you trust someone with something and it comes back to bite you. I have a problem with just being too blunt, but I think it has saved me from gossip many times. I also go straight to the source when someone tries to tell me something about someone. Yet, in my school days, I certainly was part of a lot of gossip within my friendship circle and it resulted in me running to God a lot. You feel hurt by the ones you thought loved you, and suddenly you’re not sure who you can trust. It is tough to realize how small the circle of people is that you can really trust, but it is a beautiful thing when God builds you up in trust in Him. Your best Friend is always beside you and knows exactly what you are feeling, not just because He created you, but because He loves you deeply and desires a deep relationship with you. I have been most blessed by those who I seek advice from who tell me something like, “I don’t know the answer, I will pray about it, and the best thing I think you can do is to seek God in the matter for now.” This brings me some of the greatest relief from my troubles, and often helps me problem-solve in a godly way as I reflect on what the Biblical response would be to my situation.
“They speak vanity…”. We’re not sure what David was going through, but let’s look at this gossip thing. ‘Vanity’ here is translated to mean ’emptiness, nothingness, falsehood, or worthlessness.’ I think we can agree it doesn’t bear fruit. It is such a hurtful thing to be involved in, especially within the body of Christ. If a brother or sister in Christ brings up something personal to you in seeking your advice, what reason do you have to doubt that God hasn’t equipped you to help that friend? This is where the enemy comes in to weave lies and cause trouble among believers. Instead of feeling confident that we could seek God’s help, perhaps we turn to another friend in fear that we can’t help and engage in gossip. Gossip doesn’t always begin as an intentional attack on another like it is shown in movies- it can be as simple as me saying ‘Oh, that person struggles with _________”, and perhaps I know that person well enough that it is something I have accepted and love about them, but the person I have told hardly knows them and they begin to treat that other person differently. And eventually that friend I spoke about learns what happened and they are hurt by it because the enemy was working something I couldn’t see. Understanding what exactly is gossip is tough. I’ve tried reviewing my words and asking myself “is this gossip?” and can hardly ever tell. So my new rule is to instead ask myself “Is this something empty that won’t bear fruit or help my friend in the long run?” This has served me much better, and now if I hear others complain of someone, I always point them to something positive about that person instead.
“with flattering lips…”. This doesn’t mean they go around complimenting every person they met. This is a big problem today, even in the church among leaders. These are the people who say what you want to hear. Within the church, these may be the leaders who only speak things that are good morals that you can agree with, but never speak the truth. There is one thing we know about speaking the truth, and that is that it will bring division among families and groups. Jesus told his disciples “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” Is the person giving you advice just saying what you want to hear? Do they give you Biblical advice, or just nice sounding advice that could be generalized to any problem? Does it sound like it came from a fortune cookie or from a wisdom given by God?
David always prays for a solution; an end to the acts of the wicked. “Flattering lips” are a huge problem in ‘consumer churches’. Has your faith been challenged recently? I don’t mean that you’ve hit a hard time and had to learn to trust God more. I mean has your church leader spoken some truth from the Bible that you hadn’t come across yet on your own and it made you question your faith. Has your belief system been tried? Have you reached that place the disciples got to where they questioned if they really wanted to follow a man whose path lead to death on a cross? If you haven’t felt challenged recently, and mostly find yourself just nodding in agreement to the ‘good morals’ or doctrine your leader teaches, it may be time to hop to a different church. If you don’t think your leader is serious about getting the truth into the lives of the people he has agreed to shepherd, I recommend leaving. Your faith IS life or death, it isn’t just an agreement to not commit adultery and to obey your parents, it is about a living belief that God created the earth, and you and me, and Jesus died for our sins, and that everyone deserves to know the truth. Sit in your pew and nod all you want, the enemy nods too. David could see that this would be a problem, that people could easily enter a persons life and speak flattery to a broken world, and he prayed it would end. He desired that people care enough about the people around them that this sort of thing wouldn’t go on. Do you believe you are worth it? Worth the truth? Are the people around you worth it? Does your church teach from a healthy dose of the fear of God?
Without the fear of God, those who don’t speak truth feel free to say whatever they please. But David recalls that God will rise up against these people- those who speak hurtful words. And He will offer safety to the poor and needy. David contrasts the empty, worthless spoken words of man to the true words of God. His words have been tried and stood the test. Throughout the times and ages, God’s word has stood firm. And His words will put an end to those who speak falsely. David was confident in God, and he knew that though he would still encounter the wicked, they would never have victory over His Word. Do you feel this assurance when you seek God for comfort? That was a trick question, I set you up for that- faith isn’t a feeling, is it? David speaks from a knowledge and understanding of who God is and what God desires for him, not a feeling that he had one day while praying. His comfort was probably ‘felt’, but more than that, he trusted and believed that God would take care of him and that He desired relief for him in the things he was going through.
Thank you for reading! Have a blessed week, brothers and sisters!