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Jottings

Though we do not know the time of David's life nor the circumstances in which he was at the time of the writing of Psalm 12, it would seem that he was in

considerable distress when he wrote,

"Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth;

For the faithful fail from among the children of men" (verse 1).

The word "godly" here is from the Hebrew word Chaciyad, which is frequently rendered "saints." It is vain to conjecture as to the time when it was written.

It might be thought to have been during the time of his rejection, when backsliding Saul ruled in Israel. But when it was, then or at some other time, it is evident that the godly and the faithful were not numerous. This was often the case in Israel, and such men are not a large number in our time. The word "ceaseth" (Hebrew Gamar, to end, fail, cease) must have filled David's heart with depressing thoughts, for he had the well-being of God's people at heart. How could they survive if the godly people amongst them ceased? One godly, pious man is worth many whose conduct is far from pious. The faithful fail, which means to disperse, disappear. Alas, when the faithful disperse and disappear! This would be something like the faithful followers of the Lord who followed Him to the shadows of the garden of Gethsemane, when the full moon was casting dark shadows across their path, and when at His arrest they all forsook Him and fled. They disappeared and left Him alone in the hands of His enemies.

In his rejection David had some faithful men amongst his followers. Some were valiant men, such as Joab, but he was far from being a godly man. He was simply a great and ruthless warrior, vindictive and jealous of any man who got into his way. But there were others, such as Uriah the Hittite, who cared nothing for his own pleasure or comfort so long as the interests of David and of Israel were served by him to the best of hi" ability There was the faithful Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite, who defended the plot of lentils against the Philistines alone for the people fled from the Philistines (2 Samuel 23. 11, 12) The Philistines formed a foraging party to carry away the lentils which were vital food for God s people and this valiant man defended the lentils against the thieving Philistines. Then there was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who stood with David at Pas-dammim and defended the plot of barley against the Philistines (1 Chronicles 11.12, 13). They ventured their lives on the high places of the earth to save food for God's people. Such are the men who at a time of great crisis turn the ebb tide of defeat and discouragement into victory and prosperity.

Are the godly and the faithful ceasing and failing in our time? then it behoves us to stand, and having done all to stand. Our defence is the word of God put into practice with all prayer. We are defeated if we turn and flee, for there is no armour for the back, and the arrows of the enemy would soon find their mark. Our lives and those of others are at stake and we must not falter in our task.

What was David's trouble as described in Psalm 12? His trouble was with men with flattering lips, and a double heart, who had tongues that spoke great things. They were saying, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?" The LORD will in His own time and way deal with such men. He will put the poor and needy into safety. His word and promises cannot fail, for His words are pure without alloy, as silver purified in a furnace seven times. Such as regard their words as having more value than God's shall not know the preciousness and power of His words, for He will preserve His words from such a generation. It is well for us if we follow the course of the writer of Psalm 119, who said,

"Remember the ward unto Thy servant,

Because Thou hast made me to hope" (verse 49).

They that fear Thee shall see me and be glad;

Because I have hoped in Thy word" (verse 74).

"My soul fainteth for Thy salvation:

But I hope in Thy Lord" (verse 81).

The word "saint" in the Old Testament has not the identical meaning of

saint" in the New. Saint in the Old Testament (Chaciyad) means to be kind, merciful, and toward God to be pious, godly. In the New Testament, saint means one that is sacred, holy, sanctified, or set apart, and consequently pure.

There is a sweet promise in the statement of David,

"But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly (Chaciyad) for Himself" (Psalm 4.3).

No doubt David has himself in view in these words. This we would gather from the context in which they are found. The word in the Hebrew of which the words set apart" are a translation is Palah, which means to distinguish, put a difference, separate, set apart. This word Palah is used by Moses when he pleaded with the LORD to go wit" His people and not simply to send an angel before them to bring them to the land of Canaan. He said,

"For wherein now shall it be known that I have found grace in Thy sight, I and Thy people? is it not in that Thou goest with us, so that were separated (Palah), I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth ? " (Exodus 33.16).

Here was the distinguishing mark between Israel and all other nations, even the presence of the LORD with them. It will be the distinguishing mark in the millennium between Israel (whose centre will be the city of God, Jerusalem) and other nations, The LORD is there" (Jehovah-shammah). How sadly Israel failed to maintain their saintly character and the consequence was that Israel, instead of being a tower of strength and testimony, and the head of the nations, became weak through becoming like the nations around them, adopting oftentimes their gods and their practices, and they became the tail instead of the head, and the name of God was blasphemed among the nations because of them.

Let us, who are often reminded in ministry of the fall of Israel and their consequent sorrow, learn from them to avoid the cause of their fall, and maintain that saintliness of character which is demanded by the presence of God. We have much ministry about the house of God, but do we understand by experience that the God of the house is there, and His presence with His people is that which puts a difference between them and others. Let us ponder deeply the words of Moses, Is it not in that Thou goest with us, so that we be separated?" As with Israel, God's people, so was it with the godly ones (saints) of the nation, the LORD set apart (Palah), distinguished, put a difference, between those and others of His people who were not godly (Chaciyad). For though Israel was to be a separated people to God and from the heathen and their ways and practices, that people were not all godly people, as we learn from the psalms and other parts of the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

It is said in Isaiah 6.13, that the holy seed is the stock thereof," that is of Israel who are shown in desperate plight in the former verses of the chapter, a people with eyes that saw not, and ears that heard not, and with a heart that did not understand. What could save such a people from destruction and disaster and bear the name of Israel through the night of apostasy to a fair morn beyond the darkness ? Only the holy seed indicated here. Such a seed is called the stock, or substance (A.V.) of the nation. The word stock means something stationary, such as a statue, pillar or monument, or the trunk or stock of a tree. When men were departing from God and His ways and were being eventually swept away by divine judgement, the holy seed remained as the stock of a tree which had been felled, a seed to sprout again into life when the waters of divine judgement had swept many away (Isaiah 28. 17-22). Such were those who found a sure foundation in the tried, foundation Stone, a precious Stone of sure foundation (which is even now laid in the heavenly Zion for us in this dispensation), which would in time be laid in Zion for Israel in the land of Immanuel, and then, as now, he that believeth shall not make haste" (Isaiah 28.16).

God is wanting godly men to set them apart for Himself, and godly young men and women distinguished for their godliness, which had, and has, and ever will have, a power. Let us not be adopting a form of godliness, but denying the

power thereof (2 Timothy 3.5).