Psalm 12: Lessons From David on How to Respond When Others Gossip About You

Introduction: Because of God’s anointing in David’s life, Satan frequently attacked him. When Satan could not attack David with armies, he used lies and gossip to try to bring David down. Most believers will never face a pursuing army as David did. But they will face attacks in the form of lies and gossip. Through David’s example, God reveals seven lessons on how to respond when you face attacks in the form of gossip or lies. These include: (1) prayer, (2) laments, (3) dependence, (4) trust, (5) God’s Word, (6) hope, and (7) fearing God by hating evil.

First, David cried out to God for help when others gossiped against him. When others gossip against you, God also wants you to pray for His deliverance. Second, David cried out when his enemies spoke lies against him. When others gossip about you, God also wants you to pour out the laments of your heart to Him. Third, because David could not control what others said about him, he turned to God to stop his enemies from continuing to gossip against him. When others gossip, God also wants you to depend upon Him to protect you. Fourth, David saw himself as weak. Thus, he trusted in God to intervene and stop his attackers. When others gossip against you, God also wants you to trust Him to avenge you or right the wrongs committed against you. Fifth, while David found only torment in the face of worldly gossip, he found comfort in God’s Word. When others gossip against you and you feel a loss of peace, God also wants you to find refuge in His Word. Sixth, in the face of attacks that he could not control, David placed his hope in God. When others gossip against you, God also wants you to place your hope in Him. Finally, David lamented that evil people around him rejected the truth of God’s Word. Instead, they embraced evil. When others embrace evil, God wants you to respond by fearing Him. In the Bible, fearing God is defined as hating evil. In this case, that includes any form of gossip.

1. Prayer: When Others Gossip Against You, Pray For God’s Deliverance. Ps. 12:1.

  • David cried out for God’s deliverance when others gossiped against him. Instead of attacking others who gossiped against him, David turned to God for deliverance: “God, a Helper against the Treacherous. For the music director; upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David.  1 Help, Lord, for the godly person has come to an end, for the faithful have disappeared from the sons of mankind.” (Ps. 12:1). David never mentioned the exact context of the attacks against him. People most likely gossiped and spread rumors against him from the moment of his anointing until his death. What mattered most was how he responded to gossip. He did not use his might to seek out vengeance. Nor did he respond with his own gossip. Instead, he cried out to God for deliverance.

  • David cried out to God and then credited God with his victory. David frequently cried out to God for his deliverance: “Arise, Lord; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). “Return, LORD, rescue my soul; save me because of Your mercy.” (Ps. 6:4). “Arise, LORD, confront him, make him bow down; save my soul from the wicked with Your sword,” (Ps. 17:13). “God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; break out the fangs of the young lions, LORD.” (Ps. 58:6). David then gave all the credit back to God when he was victorious: “I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, who gives salvation to kings, who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.” (Ps. 144:9-10). “He rescues me from my enemies; You indeed lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from a violent man . . . He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:48, 50; 2 Sam. 22:51). “O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.” (Ps. 140:7). “The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.” (Ps. 22:8). When you face attacks, do you turn to God through prayer for deliverance?

Whenever his enemies attacked him, David turned to God for deliverance1

  • Cry out to God when you need deliverance. When others spread gossip about you, your flesh will feel the desire to fight back. This may include getting angry with the person spreading gossip about you. Yet, like David, God wants you to give Him your burdens when others gossip about you. When others gossip about you, give God your burdens.

2. Laments: When Others Gossip Against You, Pour Out Your Heart to God. Ps. 12:2.

  • David poured out his burdens to God when others spread lies about him. Instead of challenging his enemies for spreading lies, David poured out his burdens to God: “They speak lies to one another; they speak with flattering lips and a double heart.” (Ps. 12:2). As a man of God, David was revolted at the sight of lies and flattery. Yet, because he was a sinner as well, he did not confront his enemies over their lies. Instead, he cried out to God to comfort him the way a child would cry out to a parent.

David also knew that he could pour out his sorrows to God2

  • Satan is the father of lies and the master of deceit. David lamented the lies that his enemies said about him as part of their gossip (Ps. 12:2). Jesus called Satan the “father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden with lies (Gen. 3:4; 2 Cor. 11:3). Lies are one of Satan’s most common tools for discouraging God’s people: “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, o worker of deceit.” (Ps. 52:2). “There is nothing reliable in what they say; their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” (Ps. 5:9). “Behold, he travails with wickedness, and he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.” (Ps. 7:14). “No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.” (Is. 59:4). If you encounter lies when you serve Jesus, pray for Jesus’ protection and pour out your heart to Him.

  • Flattery may also cause pride and sin to spread in your life. David also lamented that his enemies spoke with “flattering lips.” (Ps. 12:2). Many may not see flattery as a sin. But Satan uses flattery to puff people up with pride. When you accept flattery, sin can quickly spread in your life like yeast in bread. When you flatter others instead of giving the credit to God, you can also cause sin to spread amongst others: “A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Prov. 26:28). “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.” (Prov. 29:5). “You sons of man, how long will my honor be treated as an insult? How long will you love what is worthless and strive for a lie? Selah.” (Ps. 4:2). “For it flatters him in his own eyes concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.” (Ps. 36:2). “The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps. 10:4). “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). “For such people are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Ro. 16:18). “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11). Are you accepting the flattery of others when you do your job well? Are you misleading others by flattering them when they accomplish great things instead of crediting God?

  • Being double minded may also pull your heart from God. David further lamented that his enemies spoke with “a double heart.” (Ps. 12:2). This meant that they at times followed after God. The psalmist at one point even confessed his “hate” for such persons: “I hate those who are double-minded, but I love Your Law.” (Ps. 119:113). At other times, they followed after their own lusts of the flesh. In the New Testament, James warns that these persons are double-minded” and “unstable” (Jam. 1:8). In Greek, the term for “double-minded” or “dipsuchos” literally means “a person with two minds or souls.” If you live a different life inside of church and your regular life, you are double minded. When you do this, you also give Satan an opening to slowly gain control over your life.

  • In the end times, people will also be blinded by their vanity and pride. Just as in David’s time, people during the end times will become arrogant and vain: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21). In the end times, evil leaders will also use false flattery to seduce others to follow evil paths: “And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will be strong and take action.” (Dan. 11:32). Ask God to show you where you are vain or self-absorbed. Also ask Him to show you when others use these tools to deceive you.

  • Pour out your laments to God. God does not expect you to be a robot when you are attacked. It is normal to feel pain, anger, and disgust when you are the victim of gossip. When you are the victim of such attacks, pour out your heart and your burdens to God.

3. Dependence: When Others Gossip, Depend Upon God to Protect You. Ps. 12:3-4.

  • David turned to God for protection. Because David could not control what others said about him, he depended upon God to stop his enemies from their ongoing false gossip: “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things; who have said, ‘With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’” (Ps. 12:3-4). David asked God to stop what he could not control: “David felt somewhat helpless against these destructive chatterers; he found his refuge in the LORD . . . Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘Since I cannot govern my own tongue, though within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?’ David felt this same frustration with the idle and destructive tongues of others.” (David Guzik on Ps. 12).3

  • Faith puts your trust in God for protection. Although the lies that others spread against him may have threatened his reign, David did not fear his enemies: “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). “Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; this I know, that God is for me.” (Ps. 56:9). If you place your trust in Jesus, you also do not need to fear what your enemies may do to you.

  • Stay steadfast in your faith when the enemy tries to distract you. The Bible calls upon believers to “stand firm” in their faith when the enemy attacks you: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:31; 1 Cor. 15:1; Gal. 5:1). When you depend upon God, He will give you the strength to stand firm in the face of Satan’s attacks: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). When you are attacked, turn to God. If you simply give up, Satan will win.

  • Let Jesus control your tongue. David professed: “our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’” (Ps. 12:4). Jesus paid a terrible price to redeem you. Thus, you should give Him control over what you say: “For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:20). Is Jesus Lord over what you say?

4. Trusting God: When Others Gossip Against You, Trust God to Avenge You. Ps. 12:5.

  • David trusted God to avenge any wrong against him. Because he was confident in his faith, David knew that God would rise upon and intervene against his enemies: “‘Because of the devastation of the poor, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will put him in the safety for which he longs.’” (Ps. 12:5). Although David was a mighty man, he saw himself as poor and in need. Thus, he did not act upon his own strength to seek his own vengeance. Instead, he trusted God.

  • Faith puts your trust in God to avenge you when you are wronged. Like David, God also wants you to let Him avenge the wrongs against you: “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” (Prov. 20:22). “Let all their wickedness come before You; and deal with them as You have dealt with me for all my transgressions; for my groans are many and my heart is faint.” (Lam. 1:22). “How long, O God, will the adversary revile, and the enemy spurn Your name forever? . . . “And return to our neighbors sevenfold into their bosom the reproach with which they have reproached You, O Lord.” (Ps. 79:10, 12). When others attack you while you are serving, trust Jesus to avenge you. Or, do you retaliate against your attackers?

  • God will judge those who twist His Word and mislead people. There were many times when Satan used evil people to deceive God’s people. God’s prophets were angry to see this. When this happened, they first rebuked the false prophets: “Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.”’ (Jer. 28:15). The prophets then warned the people not to trust in their false claims: “Send to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite, ‘Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, although I did not send him, and he has made you trust in a lie,’”’ (Jer. 29:31). When the false prophets did not repent, God’s prophets prayed for God to avenge the people by judging the false prophets: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name . . . by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end!”’ (Jer. 14:14-15). “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration . . . Prophesy against them.” (Ezek. 13:2, 17). “Your prophets have seen for you false and foolish visions; and they have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity, but they have seen for you false and misleading oracles.” (Lam. 2:14). If you are speaking God’s Word, be careful not to misrepresent it or apply your own interpretation. Are you using God’s Word to encourage others to serve as you are called to do? (1 Thess. 5:11).

5. God’s Word: When Others Gossip Against You, Find Refuge in God’s Word. Ps. 12:6.

  • David turned to God’s Word for refuge and peace. Faced with gossip that was filled with lies, David found comfort by turning to God’s Word, which is both pure and true: “The words of the Lord are pure words; like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, filtered seven times.” (Ps. 12:6). David found the comfort in God’s Word greater than any treasure. Although his treasures on Earth will disappear, God’s Word will not.

During any trial, you can always place your trust in God’s Word4

  • God’s wisdom is worth more than any earthly honor or treasure. As a young king, God tested Solomon to determine his greatest desire. Solomon passed God’s test. Instead of asking for riches or power, Solomon asked for God’s wisdom to rule His people (2 Chr. 1:7-10; 1 Kgs. 3:4-9). Yet, after later turning to a life of covetousness, Solomon lamented that God’s wisdom was greater than any of the wealth that he had accumulated: “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Prov. 16:16). “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her.” (Prov. 3:13-15). “Accept my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her . . . My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver.” (Prov. 8:10-11, 19). “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” (Prov 23:23). Many believers put their wealth before God. Do you desire the riches of God’s wisdom over your wealth?

  • Vigilantly guard God’s Word in your heart. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of Heaven, which includes God’s wisdom, is like a hidden treasure in a field that a wise person will do everything possible to acquire and protect: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field.” (Matt. 13:44). This includes memorizing God’s Word: “I have treasured Your word in my heart, So that I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:11). If you fail to guard God’s Word as a hidden treasure, Satan will seek to draw you away from it (Lk. 8:5). To protect yourself, are you treating God’s wisdom as a hidden treasure by memorizing it and meditating on it?

  • God wants you to continually seek out His wisdom as your greatest treasure. Because you will face ongoing attacks, God wants you to continually seek out His wisdom as your greatest treasure: “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” (1 Chr. 16:11). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “Seek the LORD so that you may live, . . .” (Amos 5:6a). Are you seeking out His wisdom each day?

6. Hope: When Others Gossip Against You, Place Your Hope in God. Ps. 12:7.

  • David also placed his hope in God. In the face of uncertainty and whether his enemy’s gossip would impact him, David placed his hope in God for his protection: “You, Lord, will keep them; You will protect him from this generation forever.” (Ps. 12:7). David knew that God’s promises last forever. In contrast, gossip is quickly forgotten.

David had a heart for God and always placed his hope in Him5

  • Place your hope in God when others gossip against you. As our example, David rejoiced that he could take refuge in God in the face of any attack: “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, LORD, have not abandoned those who seek You.” (Ps. 9:10). “For the LORD loves justice and does not abandon His godly ones; they are protected forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be eliminated.” (Ps. 37:28). When others gossip about you and you can find no peace, do you put your hope in Jesus?

7. Fearing God: When Others Embrace Evil, Fear God by Hating Evil. Ps. 12:8.

  • David lamented that mankind loved evil. Although David found refuge in God’s Word, he lamented that wicked were without shame in embracing evil: “The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of mankind.” (Ps. 12:8). David was careful not to respond with his own gossip and embrace evil as they did.

  • Gossip is an evil that you should hate and avoid at all costs. The psalms proclaim that believers should show their love for God by hating evil: “Hate evil, you who love the LORD, who watches over the souls of His godly ones; He saves them from the hand of the wicked.” (Ps. 97:10). “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Dt. 10:12). “Detest what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Ro. 12:9b). Do you abhor gossip? Or, do you enjoy the attention that comes from spreading your own gossip?

  • God’s wisdom begins by fearing Him. The psalmist proclaimed that the fear of God was the beginning of wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who follow His commandments have a good understanding; His praise endures forever.” (Ps. 111:10; Ps. 34:11). In a pre-incarnate appearance, Jesus also commended Abraham because he also feared God (Gen 22:12). Job also stated that true wisdom comes from fearing God by hating evil: “And to mankind He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28).

  • The fear of the Lord is also defined as hating evil. Solomon defined fearing God as “hating” evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13). “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” (Prov. 3:7). “A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Prov. 14:16). Thus, fearing God comes from avoiding evil. This includes any form of gossip or lies. God wants you to be His salt in the wound of sin. When others gossip around you, they should feel convicted.