Psalm 12:2
They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
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(2) Vanity.—So in Psalm 41:6 and Job 35:13. Literally, evil. “Falsehood” would be better. This verse may have been in St Paul’s mind (Ephesians 4:25).

Flattering lips.—Literally, lips of smoothness, (Comp. Note, Psalm 5:9.)

With a double heart.—Literally, with a heart and a heart. (Comp. 1Chronicles 12:33.) “One for the Church, another for the Change; one for Sundays, another for working-days; one for the king, another for the Pope. A man without a heart is a wonder, but a man with two hearts is a monster.”—Thos. Adams, A.D. 1614.

Psalm 12:2. They speak vanity — Or, falsehood, which is a vain thing, and wants the solidity of truth. With a double heart do they speak — See the margin. They speak as if they had two hearts, the one inclining them to hate their neighbour, and form designs against him, and the other to prompt the tongue to pretend a friendship for him. “When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed. The primitive sincerity will accompany the primitive piety in her flight from the earth; and then interest will succeed conscience in the regulation of human conduct, till one man cannot trust another further than he holds him by that tie.” 12:1-8 The psalmist begs help of God, because there were none among men whom he durst trust. - This psalm furnishes good thoughts for bad times; a man may comfort himself with such meditations and prayers. Let us see what makes the times bad, and when they may be said to be so. Ask the children of this world, What makes the times bad? they will tell you, Scarcity of money, decay of trade, and the desolations of war, make the times bad: but the Scripture lays the badness of the times on causes of another nature, 2Ti 3:1, c.: perilous times shall come, for sin shall abound; and of this David complains. When piety decays times really are bad. He who made man's mouth will call him to an account for his proud, profane, dissembling, or even useless words. When the poor and needy are oppressed, then the times are very bad. God himself takes notice of the oppression of the poor, and the sighing of the needy. When wickedness abounds, and is countenanced by those in authority, then the times are very bad. See with what good things we are here furnished for such bad times; and we cannot tell what times we may be reserved for. 1. We have a God to go to, from whom we may ask and expect the redress of all our grievances. 2. God will certainly punish and restrain false and proud men. 3. God will work deliverance for his oppressed people. His help is given in the fittest time. Though men are false, God is faithful; though they are not to be trusted, God is. The preciousness of God's word is compared to silver refined to the highest degree. How many proofs have been given of its power and truth! God will secure his chosen remnant, however bad the times are. As long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men. But all God's people are put into the hands of Christ our Saviour; there they are in safety, for none can pluck them thence; being built on Him, the Rock, they are safe, notwithstanding temptation or persecution come with ever so much force upon them.They speak vanity - This is a statement of the "manner" in which the "godly" and the "faithful" fail, as stated in Psalm 12:1. One of the ways was that there was a disregard of truth; that no confidence could be placed on the statements of those who professed to be pious; that they dealt falsely with their neighbors. The word "vanity" here is equivalent to "falsehood." What they spoke was a vain and empty thing, instead of being the truth. It had no reality, and could not be depended on.

Every one with his neighbour - In his statements and promises. No reliance could be placed on his word.

With flattering lips - Hebrew, "Lips of smoothness." The verb from which the word used here is derived - חלק chālaq - means properly to divide, to distribute; then, to make things equal or smooth; then, to make smooth or to shape, as an artisan does, as with a plane; and then, "to make things smooth with the tongue," that is, "to flatter." See Psalm 5:9; Proverbs 5:3; Proverbs 26:28; Proverbs 28:23; Proverbs 29:5. The meaning is, that no confidence could be placed in the statements made. There was no certainty that they were founded on truth; none that they were not intended to deceive. Flattery is the ascribing of qualities to another which he is known not to possess - usually with some sinister or base design.

And with a double heart - Margin, as in Hebrew, "a heart and a heart;" that is, as it were, with two hearts, one that gives utterance to the words, and the other that retains a different sentiment. Thus, in Deuteronomy 25:13, the phrase in Hebrew, "a stone and a stone" means, as it is translated, "divers weights" - one stone or weight to buy with, and another to sell with. So the flatterer. He has one heart to give utterance to the words which he uses toward his neighbor, and another that conceals his real purpose or design. No confidence, therefore, could be placed in such persons. Compare the note at Job 32:22.

2. The want of it is illustrated by the prevalence of deceit and instability. Vanity; or, falsehood, which is a vain thing, and wants the solidity of truth.

With a double heart; pretending one heart, and that they speak from a kind and upright heart, when they really have another, even a cruel and deceitful heart. They speak vanity everyone with his neighbour,.... That which is false and a lie, either doctrinal or practical; what was not according to the word of God, and was vain and empty, frothy, filthy, and corrupt; and which no godly and faithful man would do. And this being done in common, by the generality of men, one with another, shows the degeneracy of the age, and supports the complaint before made. They speak even

with flattering lips; as Cain did to Abel, Joab to Amasa, the Herodians to Christ, Judas to his Master, false teachers to those that are simple, hypocrites to God himself, when they draw nigh to him only with their lips, and all formal professors to the churches of Christ, when they profess themselves to be what they are not. And this is a further proof of the justness of the above complaint;

and with a double heart do they speak: or "with an heart and an heart" (d); such are double minded men, who say one thing, and mean another; their words are not to be depended upon; there is no faithfulness in them. The Chinese (e) reckon a man of "two hearts", as they call him, a very wicked man, and none more remote from honesty.

(d) "in corde & corde", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus. (e) Martin. Sinic. Hist. p. 144. a heart having , a double meaning, as Pittacus says, Laert. in Vit. Pittac. l. 1. p. 53.

They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with {b} flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

(b) He means the flatters of the court which hurt him more with their tongues than with their weapons.

2. Hypocrisy and duplicity are universal. Men’s words are vanity, or falsehood, hollow and unreal. Their flatteries come from ‘a double heart,’ lit. a heart and a heart, which thinks one thing and utters another, and has no constancy or consistency, but thinks one thing today and another thing tomorrow. Cp. Proverbs 26:24 ff. For the opposite see 1 Chronicles 12:33; 1 Chronicles 12:38.Verse 2. - They speak vanity every one with his neighbour; rather, they speak falsehood (Kay, Cheyne). Contrast the injunction of the apostle (Ephesians 4:25). With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak; literally, with lips of smoothness, and with a heart and a heart do they speak. The Authorized Version gives the true meaning (comp. 1 Chronicles 12:33). David rejects the advice of his friends to save his life by flight. Hidden in Jahve (Psalm 16:1; Psalm 36:8) he needs no other refuge. However well-meant and well-grounded the advice, he considers it too full of fear and is himself too confident in God, to follow it. David also introduces his friends as speaking in other passages in the Psalms belonging to the period of the Absolom persecution, Psalm 3:3; Psalm 4:7. Their want of courage, which he afterwards had to reprove and endeavour to restore, showed itself even before the storm had burst, as we see here. With the words "how can you say" he rejects their proposal as unreasonable, and turns it as a reproach against them. If the Chethb, נוּדוּ, is adopted, then those who are well-disposed, say to David, including with him his nearest subjects who are faithful to him: retreat to your mountain, (ye) birds (צפּור collective as in Psalm 8:9; Psalm 148:10); or, since this address sounds too derisive to be appropriate to the lips of those who are supposed to be speaking here: like birds (comparatio decurtata as in Psalm 22:14; Psalm 58:9; Psalm 24:5; Psalm 21:8). הרכס which seems more natural in connection with the vocative rendering of צפור (cf. Isaiah 18:6 with Ezekiel 39:4) may also be explained, with the comparative rendering, without any need for the conjecture הר כמו צפור (cf. Deuteronomy 33:19), as a retrospective glance at the time of the persecution under Saul: to the mountains, which formerly so effectually protected you (cf. 1 Samuel 26:20; 1 Samuel 23:14). But the Ker, which is followed by the ancient versions, exchanges נודו for גוּדי, cf שׁחי Isaiah 51:23. Even reading it thus we should not take צפור, which certainly is epicoene, as vocative: flee to your mountain, O bird (Hitz.); and for this reason, that this form of address is not appropriate to the idea of those who profer their counsel. But we should take it as an equation instead of a comparison: fly to your mountain (which gave you shelter formerly), a bird, i.e., after the manner of a bird that flies away to its mountain home when it is chased in the plain. But this Ker appears to be a needless correction, which removes the difficulty of נודו coming after לנפשׁי, by putting another in the place of this synallage numeri.

(Note: According to the above rendering: "Flee ye to your mountain, a bird" it would require to be accented נודו הרכם צפוז (as a transformation from נודו הרכם צפור vid., Baer's Accentssystem XVIII. 2). The interpunction as we have it, נודו הרכם צפור, harmonises with the interpretation of Varenius as of Lb Spira (Pentateuch-Comm. 1815): Fugite (o socii Davidis), mons vester (h. e. praesidium vestrum, Psalm 30:8, cui innitimini) est avis errans.)

In Psalm 11:2 the faint-hearted ones give as the ground of their advice, the fearful peril which threatens from the side of crafty and malicious foes. As הנּה implies, this danger is imminent. The perfect overrides the future: they are not only already in the act of bending the bow, they have made ready their arrow, i.e., their deadly weapon, upon the string (יתר equals מיתר, Psalm 21:13, Arab. watar, from יתר, wata ra, to stretch tight, extend, so that the thing is continued in one straight line) and even taken aim, in order to discharge it (ירה with ל of the aim, as in Psalm 54:5, with acc. of the object) in the dark (i.e., secretly, like an assassin) at the upright (those who by their character are opposed to them). In Psalm 11:3 the faint-hearted still further support their advice from the present total subversion of justice. השּׁתות are either the highest ranks, who support the edifice of the state, according to Isaiah 19:10, or, according to Psalm 82:5, Ezekiel 30:4, the foundations of the state, upon whom the existence and well-being of the land depends. We prefer the latter, since the king and those who are loyal to him, who are associated in thought with צדּיק, are compared to the שׁתות. The construction of the clause beginning with כּי is like Job 38:41. The fut. has a present signification. The perf. in the principal clause, as it frequently does elsewhere (e.g., Psalm 39:8; Psalm 60:11; Genesis 21:7; Numbers 23:10; Job 12:9; 2 Kings 20:9) in interrogative sentences, corresponds to the Latin conjunctive (here quid fecerit), and is to be expressed in English by the auxiliary verbs: when the bases of the state are shattered, what can the righteous do? he can do nothing. And all counter-effort is so useless that it is well to be as far from danger as possible.

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