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Psalms 12:2-3

Context

12:2 People lie to one another; 1 

they flatter and deceive. 2 

12:3 May the Lord cut off 3  all flattering lips,

and the tongue that boasts! 4 

1 tn Heb “falsehood they speak, a man with his neighbor.” The imperfect verb forms in v. 2 describe what is typical in the psalmist’s experience.

2 tn Heb “[with] a lip of smoothness, with a heart and a heart they speak.” Speaking a “smooth” word refers to deceptive flattery (cf. Ps 5:9; 55:21; Prov 2:16; 5:3; 7:5, 21; 26:28; 28:23; Isa 30:10). “Heart” here refers to their mind, from which their motives and intentions originate. The repetition of the noun indicates diversity (see GKC 396 §123.f, IBHS 116 §7.2.3c, and Deut 25:13, where the phrase “weight and a weight” refers to two different measuring weights). These people have two different types of “hearts.” Their flattering words seem to express kind motives and intentions, but this outward display does not really reflect their true motives. Their real “heart” is filled with evil thoughts and destructive intentions. The “heart” that is seemingly displayed through their words is far different from the real “heart” they keep disguised. (For the idea see Ps 28:3.) In 1 Chr 12:33 the phrase “without a heart and a heart” means “undivided loyalty.”

3 tn The verb form is a jussive, indicating that the statement is imprecatory (“May the Lord cut off”), not indicative (“The Lord will cut off”; see also Ps 109:15 and Mal 2:12). The psalmist appeals to God to destroy the wicked, rather than simply stating his confidence that he will. In this way he seeks to activate divine judgment by appealing to God’s just character. For an example of the power of such a curse, see Judg 9:7-57.

4 tn Heb “a tongue speaking great [things].”



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