High River United Church of High River, Alberta

A Message to Connect - May 12

Grace & Peace to you, 

David’s Reflections on Psalm 12

When we listen to others speak, what do our ears hear?  How does their speech influence us, touch us, traumatize us, amuse us, or harm us?  Is their speech kindly or, is it aggressive?  Is it wise, or deceitful? Are the words truthful or do they tell a pack of lies?


Psalm 12 wrestles with wicked speech in the absence of the faithful.  Interestingly, I was reading that the word “wicked” is rooted in the Old English “wick” (which makes sense) noting that a candle wick bends and twists.  In the translation from the Hebrew, the Old English renders wicked as that which is flexible like twigs and stems with no real adherence to or permanence in their relationship with God’s covenant.  The wicked bend and twist around their relationship with God with no intention of faithfulness and, in fact, are more likely to bend and flex the Torah to suit their needs, not those of their neighbour or the vulnerable.  “With our tongues we will prevail; our lips are our own—who is our master? (vs.4).  In other words, the wicked are the masters of their own lips—they believe they control speech.  This is a serious social issue for the psalmist and of course is no less serious for our own time as we, like those in Biblical times, witness language and speech used to slither around truth in order to manipulate and control.  This is a good reason for the faithful, those living in covenant with God, to claim back Divine speech.


So, consider for a moment God’s speech.  In Genesis, God speaks life into existence and calls creation good.  In the Gospel of John, we read that, “In the beginning was the Word.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1)  Divine speech utters light, life and love.  Psalm 12 decries social speech that is clearly not Divine.  Such wicked speech is in love with itself and its own merit, its own agenda, its own self importance.  It is uttered in the absence of light, life, and love. It proclaims self- interest at the expense of the poor.  God’s speech does not.  It offers safety and protection, especially for those who are most vulnerable.


Psalm 12 invites us to pay attention to the language we are hearing and more significantly, the language we are uttering.  Do we speak like we own our tongue, as if we have no master?  Or do we speak with Divine intent?  Words matter.  Speech is powerful. 


At the conclusion to this Psalm, we can anticipate a shift—always toward the Divine.  It does not disappoint.  The poor will be placed in safety.  The promises of God are like silver purified in a furnace and refined 7 times! (vs.6)  Even when those who bend and twist their speech into wickedness against those living in covenant with God, Psalm 12 promises God’s protection.  I imagine a silver shield forged from God’s light, life, and love that serves to protect those who live in covenant with God.


This is the good news of Psalm 12.  It invites us to take stock of what we hear and what we say.  While no human being can ever really control their tongue, we can practice good speech which fosters truth, and proclaims love for everyone including the most vulnerable.  This speech is plain and at times, exceptionally pointed.  It will not be twisted or bent out of shape by the wicked.  Divine speech will be on guard and always speak life, light and love into being.


With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.”  A. Heschel






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