Psalm 12:2
They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: 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). Psalm 12:2(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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