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Bible: What Does Psalms 12-15 Teach Us About Spiritual Depravity and Righteousness?
The Apostle Paul
Total Spiritual Inability
Do you believe in the total spiritual inability of fallen human beings to please God?
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Psalms 12-15: Spiritual Depravity/Characteristics of the Righteous Man
Lamenting the diminishing numbers of the godly, David cries out for help (v. 1).
The people are idle, double-hearted flatterers (v. 2); therefore, the psalmist desires that the LORD would sever all ties with them, for they have spoken proudly and denied Him (vv. 3-4).
God, whose words are pure, helps the poor (vv. 5, 6) by protecting them from those who openly parade their wickedness (vv. 7-8).
[Vivid contrasts—between mankind’s evil speech and the LORD's words, and between the wicked one’s works and God's good deeds—highlight this psalm].
With five poignant questions, David expresses his feelings of abandonment by God in the midst of his enemies (vv. 1-2).
He prays for understanding, so that he may avoid hearing their claims of victory over him (vv. 3-4).
Assured that God will show him mercy, the psalmist speaks of the future praise he will render to Him (vv. 5-6).
[Prayer opens your mind to knowledge of the LORD's mercy; personal belief in that mercy elicits praise because you realize that He will work on your behalf].
David asserts that the spiritual core (“heart”) of a “fool” says, “God does not exist.”
Is he one who believes in God’s existence, but denies that He works in the world (that is, a deist or practical atheist), or is he one who blatantly refuses to acknowledge that God exists?]
Here “they” (notice the change from singular to plural) appear to deny God's existence to themselves by doing evil (v. 1).
God fails to find one good man among them; every one is totally depraved (vv. 2-3; cf. Rom. 3:11-12).
Still, another group exists: my people (Israel). Ignorant of God, the evil “children of men” “eat them up.”
These “workers of iniquity” fear greatly because God will exact vengeance upon them for their deeds, but He will save “the generation of the righteous” in Israel (vv. 4-6).
David pleads for the LORD's salvation to come and for the nation to rejoice when it finally occurs (v. 7).
[The apostle Paul cites Romans 3:10-18 to show universal depravity; here David seems to refer only to the "children of men" (v. 2) as being subject to this spiritual condition, and does not appear to include Israel (my people). Cf. Psalm 5.
However, the term “sons of men”—equivalent of “children of men”—occurs in Psalm 33: 13, 14, and refers to all inhabitants of the earth.]
David inquires about the spiritual characteristics required of one who would fellowship with the LORD (v. 1). The fundamental attribute—righteousness—works itself out in relationships.
The righteous should treat his neighbor (v. 3), his friend (v. 3), a vile person (v. 4a), spiritual people (v. 4b), and clients (v. 5) in a morally upright manner.
A righteous person expresses his character via the tongue in the following ways: he speaks truth sincerely, v. 2; does not backbite, v. 3; does not reproach a friend, v. 3; keeps his word despite adverse consequences, v. 4.
In summary, the psalmist asserts the moral stability of such an individual (v. 5b).
[To walk with God, one must uphold righteous standards in word and deed].
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