Read Psalm 12.
This may date me, but I miss holding an actual CD in my hands. Streaming music, while insanely convenient, just isn’t the same. When it’s an album that means a lot to me, I like having something tangible to hold onto.
Not too long ago, I tried to stream an album by one of my favorite artists, only to discover my streaming service of choice did not have that particular record in its library. It was as if it had been erased, like it never existed. I may or may not have pulled my car over to the side of the road and immediately ordered a copy of the CD off ebay.
Among things I miss most about CDs—or tapes or records—are the liner notes. On those pages are the lyrics, who wrote each song, who performed on each track, and the artist’s thank-yous. The best liner notes tell you about the heart behind the songs or the situation from which they were born. That little booklet tucked inside the CD case is a connection point, a way of going deeper with an artist and his music. Many, many times, a song that fell flat to my ears on the first listen came alive after reading the liner notes.
Words matter. They have the power to change our hearts and our minds. They can lead us into a beautiful new experience or down the path of trouble. Words change the world, for better or worse, whether it’s Mein Kampf, the Emancipation Proclamation, Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, or the book of Romans. But not all words get such press.
Most of the words changing our world happen without wide circulation or airtime. They’re the words we speak to each other. In Psalm 12, David laments that “no one is faithful anymore” (v. 1). He elaborates by saying, “Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts” (v. 2). The damage is widespread, but it still spreads from door to door.
Reading David’s description, I couldn’t help but think of social media. Most people (I hope) don’t lie outright on their Instagram and Facebook feeds, but it’s very tempting to only post the perfectly timed vacation photos, the proud-parent moments, and the “brave” statements of support for trending social causes, the ones sure to generate likes and shares. In this temptation, we also tempt our neighbors to do likewise, or to covet what it looks like we have. Once again, the damage is widespread, but it still spreads from door to door.
But there is One whose word can always be trusted. “The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times” (v. 6). Though it’s not a perfect analogy, in a sense Scripture gives us God’s liner notes, a behind-the-scenes look at His heart. And because God’s words are trustworthy and true, they can become our guide for all other conversations.
Like David, we too are living in a time “when what is vile is honored by the human race” (v. 8). It seems that now more than ever before, we need the Bible and the Spirit of God at work within us to help us sort out the truth from the lies.