Recently as I was reading Psalm 12, I wrote in the margin, “Protection against propaganda.” Here expressed in a prayer, we can find the sentiments of believers as they encounter the worldview of the dominant media in our day; what we come to call “fake news.” The ESV Study Bible notes, “This is a community lament, suited to occasions when the people of God are dominated by liars in positions of authority. It is not clear whether these liars are unfaithful Israelites or Gentile oppressors; the psalm works for either situation.” How true this is for our day. Much of what I hear is like propaganda, presented as made up truth to be accepted as fact.
In this short corporate lament (eight verses) the Psalmist asks God to deal with the liars (1-4). “Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception” (v 1). They say, ‘We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips – who is our master?” (v 3). The Message says, “I’m tried of hearing, ‘We can talk anyone into anything! Our lips manage the world.'” The question for us today becomes, “Whose narrative is dominating the news cycle?” and whether it is truthful or not.
But then in verse 5 God responds, “I will now arise….I will protect them from those who malign them.” The Message says, “I’ve had enough; I’m on my way to heal the ache in the hearts of the wretched.” Men, our prayer needs to be that of the Psalmist, when he prayed in Ps 9:19, “Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.” When you struggle to make sense of contemporary life pray, “Let God arise.”
In contrast to the unreliability of the wicked, the Psalmist reminds us of God’s Word being absolutely flawless or trustworthy. “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (v. 5). The Message says, “God’s words are pure words.” Never forget that God has given us a reliable map to guide our journey in our present surroundings.
The Psalmist conclude his lament by expressing confidence that God will protect the faithful community from the wicked who surround them (vs. 7-8). “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men” (v. 8). The Message expresses it well: “God, keep us safe from their lies, from the wicked who stalk us with lies, from the wicked who collect honors from their wonderful lies.” Pray prayers of protection continually for yourself, your family, your church and your community.
I can take in only so much news at a time. I have to turn away at times and simply focus on the Lord and his flawless words. Even when I am trying to make sense out of world news, I continually pray for discernment in seeing the kingdom of God at work in the midst of the chaos of our day. I pray that God will protect me from the propaganda of so much of the dominant culture.