Psalm 12:7
You shall keep them, O LORD, you shall preserve them from this generation for ever.
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Psalm 12:7. Thou shalt keep them — Thy words or promises last mentioned. Hebrew, תשׁמרם, tishmerem, thou wilt observe them; and what thou hast promised shall surely be performed, since with thee is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Thou wilt preserve them — Hebrew, תצרני, titzrennu thou wilt keep him, that is, thy poor and lowly servant, (spoken of Psalm 12:5,) from the craft and malice of this crooked and perverse generation of men, so that he shall neither be circumvented by treachery, nor crushed by power; and thou wilt keep him undefiled amid a corrupt age; and all that trust in and cleave to thee from generation to generation.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."Thou shalt keep them That is, the persons referred to in Psalm 12:5 - the poor and the needy who were suffering from the wrongs inflicted on them. The idea is, that God would guard and defend them. They were safe in his hands. Compare Psalm 37:3-7.

From this generation - This generation, or this race of detractors, flatterers, and oppressors. The idea is, that that entire generation was eminently wicked, and that none but God could deliver the poor and the needy from their designs.

Forever - That is, "constantly," or as long as they would need the divine protection. God would not interpose and save them from the "present" trouble, and then leave them to the designs of their enemies, but he would "always" interpose as often as there was any need of his help. That is, they were now, and would be at all times, entirely safe. They had nothing to fear, for God was their refuge and their help.

7. them—(Margin.) Thou shalt keep them; either,

1. The poor and needy, Psalm 12:5, from the crafts and malice of this crooked and perverse generation of men, and for ever. Or,

2. Thy words or promises last mentioned, Psalm 12:6. These thou wilt observe and keep (as these two verbs commonly signify) both now, and

from this generation for ever, i.e. Thou wilt not only keep thy promise to me in preserving me, and advancing me to the throne, but also to my posterity from generation to generation. Thou shall keep them, O Lord,.... Not the words before mentioned, as Aben Ezra explains it, for the affix is masculine and not feminine; not but God has wonderfully kept and preserved the sacred writings; and he keeps every word of promise which he has made; and the doctrines of the Gospel will always continue from one generation to another; but the sense is, that God will keep the poor and needy, and such as he sets in safety, as Kimchi rightly observes: they are not their own keepers, but God is the keeper of them; he keeps them by his power, and in his Son, in whose hands they are, and who is able to keep them from falling; they are kept by him from a total and final falling away; from the dominion and damning power of sin, and from being devoured by Satan, and from the evil of the world: and this the psalmist had good reason to believe, because of the love of God to them, his covenant with them, and the promises of safety and salvation he has made unto them;

thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever; or "thou shalt preserve him" (p); that is, everyone of the poor and needy, from the wicked generation of men in which they live, from being corrupted or intimidated by them; and who are described in the beginning of the psalm. Some take these words to be a prayer, "keep thou them, O Lord, and preserve them", &c. (q); and so the following words may be thought to be a reason or argument enforcing the request.

(p) "custodies eum", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth. (q) "Custodi eum", Tigurine version, Vatablus, "custodito eorum quemque", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Thou shalt keep {f} them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

(f) That is, yours though was only one man.

7. More exactly:

Thou, O Jehovah, wilt preserve them (as Psalm 16:1);

Thou wilt guard him &c.

The first Thou is emphatic: them refers to the poor and needy of Psalm 12:5 : him in the second line singles out each one of the victims of persecution as the object of divine care. Comp. the similar change from plur. (poor and needy) to sing. in Psalm 12:5. But possibly we should follow the LXX and read us, instead of them and him, or at any rate in place of him.

this generation] As the men of one age are commonly distinguished by special characteristics, generation acquires an ethical significance, and denotes kind, class, in good or bad sense. Comp. Psalm 14:5; Proverbs 30:11-14; Matthew 17:17.

7, 8. Concluding expression of confidence in Jehovah’s protection, which is sorely needed when wickedness prevails unchecked.Verse 7. - Thou shalt keep them, O Lord. God having promised to set the righteous, who are oppressed, in a place of safety (ver. 5), the psalmist is sure that he will keep them and preserve them from the wicked "generation," which has possession of the earth, and bears rule in it, always. It is, no doubt, for the greater consolation and encouragement of these unfortunates that he dwells on the subject, and adds his own assurances to the Divine promise which he has recorded. Man's faith is so weak that, unless promises and assurances are reiterated, they make little impression. Thou shalt preserve them (Hebrew, him) from this generation for ever. The "generation" is that of the worldly men in power at the time, of whom we have heard in Psalm 3:1, 2, 6, 7; Psalm 4:2; Psalm 5:4-6, 9, 10; Psalm 6:8; Psalm 7:1, 2, 9, 13-16; Psalm 10:2-11, 15; Psalm 11:2, 3, 6. "For ever" means "so long as they live." The substitution of "him' for "them" in this clause is an instance of that generalization by which a whole class is summed up in a single individual - " all men" in "man," "all good men" in "the righteous" (צַדִּיק), and the like. (Heb.: 12:2-3) The sigh of supplication, הושׁיעה, has its object within itself: work deliverance, give help; and the motive is expressed by the complaint which follows. The verb גּמר to complete, means here, as in Psalm 7:10, to have an end; and the ἁπ. λεγ. פּסס is equivalent to אפס in Psalm 77:9, to come to the extremity, to cease. It is at once clear from the predicate being placed first in the plur., that אמוּנים in this passage is not an abstractum, as e.g., in Proverbs 13:17; moreover the parallelism is against it, just as in Proverbs 31:24. חסיד is the pious man, as one who practises חסד towards God and man. אמוּן, primary form אמוּן (plur. אמונים; whereas from אמוּן we should expect אמוּנים), - used as an adjective (cf. on the contrary Deuteronomy 32:20) here just as in Proverbs 31:24, 2 Samuel 20:19, - is the reliable, faithful, conscientious man, literally one who is firm, i.e., whose word and meaning is firm, so that one can rely upon it and be certain in relation to it.

(Note: The Aryan root man to remain, abide (Neo-Persic mânden), also takes a similar course, signifying usually "to continue in any course, wait, hope." So the old Persic man, Zend upaman, cf. μένειν with its derivatives which are applied in several ways in the New Testament to characterise πίστις.)

We find similar complaints of the universal prevalence of wickedness in Micah 7:2; Isaiah 57:1; Jeremiah 7:28, and elsewhere. They contain their own limitation. For although those who complain thus without pharisaic self-righteousness would convict themselves of being affected by the prevailing corruption, they are still, in their penitence, in their sufferings for righteousness' sake, and in their cry for help, a standing proof that humanity has not yet, without exception, become a massa perdita. That which the writer especially laments, is the prevailing untruthfulness. Men speak שׁוא ( equals שׁוא from שׁוא), desolation and emptiness under a disguise that conceals its true nature, falsehood (Psalm 41:7), and hypocrisy (Job 35:13), ἕκαστος πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτοῦ (lxx, cf. Ephesians 4:25, where the greatness of the sin finds its confirmation according to the teaching of the New Testament: ὅτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη). They speak lips of smoothnesses (חלקות, plural from חלקה, laevitates, or from חלק, laevia), i.e., the smoothest, most deceitful language (accusative of the object as in Isaiah 19:18) with a double heart, inasmuch, namely, as the meaning they deceitfully express to others, and even to themselves, differs from the purpose they actually cherish, or even (cf. 1 Chronicles 12:33 בלא לב ולב, and James 1:8 δίψυχος, wavering) inasmuch as the purpose they now so flatteringly put forth quickly changes to the very opposite.

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