Bad Advice From Friends: Chapter 11
Chapter 11 is very reminiscent of what we just saw in our expositions of Job, and the conversations he had with his friends. Because here, we see David reacting to advice from his well-intentioned friends. In fact, he points out their words right from the start in verse 1:
…In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?Psalm 11:1
David spent a lot of his time on the run, before he became the King. I heard a man of God once preach about David’s time “between the sling and being king” and this is a good example of what it was like.
David was in constant danger during that time, being hunted by King Saul. And it was during this particular time that his friends encouraged him, meaning well, of course, to “flee”. But David knew better!
Spurgeon said it best when he said that David would rather have been in danger than to be found not trusting God. David knew his friends meant well… but he also knew the advice they were giving was based on pure fear, and nothing else. And that emotion could not stand in the face of the position David took before the LORD.
Friends Looking Out For You
It’s heartwarming to know we have friends looking out for us, isn’t it? But what if their advice, as that of David’s friends here, is based in fear? They even point out that the wicked already have their arrows aimed at him!
Remember when, in Job 15:17, Job’s friends basically said the same thing? You’ll see it again in Matthew chapter 16 when Peter speaks out against the idea of Jesus going to the cross. In all these cases, the “advice” was wrong.
But they wouldn’t know it for a while yet.
That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of our own selves when seeking to give advice. It could be that our motives are as good as the motives held by Job’s friends, David’s friends, and Peter himself. But sometimes, the advice we come up with is just wrong.
Don’t Fear What You Can’t See
David’s friends spoke about “shooters” that aimed at the righteous, but that did so “secretly”. When EVER we fear things that we cannot see, and that are not even currently tangible, we are giving fear the upper hand. We’re walking in it and living it out long before there’s a reason to do so.
And the fact is, there might not even BE a reason after it’s all said and done.
David’s friends went on to ask, if the foundations are destroyed, what in the world can the righteous do, after all? David may have given a few fleeting moments of thought to the fact that, at least from a logical standpoint, they might be right.
On the other hand, something inside tells him no. It tells him that fleeing is not the proper thing to do, especially for one who has made up his mind that there will BE no compromise! (I suspect this might be another reason that God considered David a man after His Own Heart).
Spurgeon spoke to this thought process as well:
When Satan cannot overthrow us by presumption, how craftily will he seek to ruin us by distrust! He will employ our dearest friends to argue us out of our confidence, and he will use such plausible logic, that unless we once for all assert our immovable trust in Jehovah, he will make us like the timid bird which flies to the mountain whenever danger presents itself.“Treasury of DavidPsalm 11.” Spurgeon.Org, 2020, archive.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps011.php.
A Faithful Answer
As David is reflecting, in answer to his friends’ advice, to where the LORD is, he’s probably thinking that if God isn’t going anywhere different, then neither should he.
There are two ways to react to any problem in which our friends might advise us towards fear. One is to think and meditate on the problem so much that we are overwhelmed with fear. The other is to spend more time with God, praying about those same problems, and allow our faith to rise up in our hearts.
The Word tells us that Satan wants to sift us like wheat. But Jesus prayed, and is praying, for us. How could we possibly be left to hopelessness?
David’s friends asked, “What can the righteous do?”
David’s answer was simple: “What CAN’T they do, as long as God is on the Throne?”
What Does God See?
God’s eyes “behold”. And that, really, is as far as that sentence needs to go to give us all the boldness we need. God sees all. David knows it. He knows God is watching out for him. And so fear has no place.
What can the righteous do? They can rest in the fact that our Father sees it all and has the end result in complete control!
The LORD “trieth the righteous”. David’s declaration that he knows God sometimes tests those who have a righteous heart is just another blow to fear. He knows that God is a loving God. And He will never push His own too far, nor will He forsake them.
What can the righteous do? They can know that the LORD God is in complete control!
Speaking to God’s hatred for the wicked, David is obviously considering that, at least in this instance, God does indeed have “favorites”. Unrighteousness never has been, nor will it ever be, given an upper hand over the righteous. David knows that he will be delivered simply because he is righteous and his enemies are not.
What can the righteous do? Wait and watch for God to show Himself mightly on behalf of the righteous!
The Words of God and Man: Chapter 12
As we begin to read the first portion of chapter 12, we might think (if a more modern language were used) that someone was speaking about our own day and age:
…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.Psalm 12:1-2
As a battle-worn soldier, fierce with an iron, David had had his share of battles. But here, it’s obvious his battle was against the sword of the tongue. Idle words, backbiting, gossip, and lies seemed to abound and there appeared to be no reasonable defense.
So David did what we should all do in cases like these.
He took his concerns to God.
We can’t be sure exactly which time frame is being spoken of here. But with all the talk of vain flattery and a double heart, it could have been written when he was in King Saul’s court while the king was crazy with envy.
But what are “flattering lips”? I believe that to speak with flattering lips is to speak to a person and tell them exactly what they want to know. This means, if you’re speaking with flattering lips, you might speak to five different people and tell them all five different things.
Flattery might, as the old saying goes, get you everywhere. But according to the Word, it’s best to leave it be. Even Daniel speaks about flattery, in Daniel chapter 11. He says it will be one of the tools used on the last day by the wicked rule that will lead the world (verse 32).
Judgment Against Flattery
In the flesh, David felt a little helpless against all the flattery flying around. So he used this time to hide in the shelter of the Almighty. He prayed that God would cut off the tongues that speak proudly. I’m sure he didn’t mean to actually cut them off, but the analogy is worthy.
David also saw the pride that accompanied the bragging and flattery. He hated it. Today, if we have been converted, the question, “Who is Lord over us?” should certainly mean something! We belong solely to God, who paid a great price in His death on the cross so that we could be free. Furthermore, because of this, it is our obligation to glorify Him with our bodies, our lips, and our tongue (1 Corinthians 6:20).
The Words of the LORD
There is a massive chasm between the words of God, and the words of man. God’s words are holy, just, gracious, true, and infallible. Because of this, He is completely and wholly trustworthy.
The Bible itself, throughout a very rocky history, as withstood amazing persecution. To have been criticized, doubted, measured against science, and reasoned throughout courtrooms, councils, and catastrophes, it has stood the test of time and no amount of “heat” could burn up not one jot or tittle. The doctrines and promises are as sure and plain as they were when commissioned in 33 A.D.
Keep and Preserve the Word
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.Psalm 12:6-7
We can read this in a way that would mean God will preserve both His people AND His Word. But most certainly His Word. In fact, a well-known French atheist call Voltaire, who lived from 1694 to 1778, said at one time that “in twenty years” there would be no such thing as Christianity. He wrote about it as well, saying that ” in fifty years time” no one would even remember what Christianity was.
But in that same year, while one of his own pieces of writing was selling for a mere eight cents, a Bible manuscript in the possession of the Russian government was sold to a British Museum for half a million dollars.
The End of a Psalm
The last bit of chapter 12 seems a bit depressing at first sight, but it’s a great place to consider that David is, in fact, a realist. While the optimist sees the glass as half full, and the pessimist sees it as half-empty, David is just thankful there’s water in it at all!
He realized that, yes, there was wickedness in the world, and yes, they would be there on every side sometimes. But the idea that they would have the final victory is never a thought that crosses his mind.
In reality, it’s a bit like a challenge. Knowing what we know about him, David is simply saying that, as long as there is wickedness, that wickedness would be esteemed among the sons of men.
What will you do with the truth YOU know?
Do you see any similarities between these two chapters and some of our readings throughout the book of Job? How did David answer his friends in comparison with the way Job answered his? What other similarities or differences do you see?
When it comes to fear, do you think your faith is, or could be, on the same level as David? He refused to be pushed into believing the fear his friends pushed on him, simply because of who God was. We could all take a lesson here!
Oh Lord Jesus, please arrest our thoughts and hearts and minds when we even come close to allowing ourselves to focus on fear! Whether it comes as an indirect push from the enemy, through well-meaning friends, or whether we allow our own thoughts to sabotage us, Lord, lift us up from that pit quickly! Cause us to be overtaken with the Word that we’ve hidden in our hearts! And if we haven’t hidden enough of Your Word to sustain us through fearful and doubtful time, then Lord, draw us ever closer. Cause us to DESIRE to read and pray and learn the Truth of Your Word. We ask it now in Jesus’ Name, AMEN!