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Psalm 17



David implores the succor of God against his enemies; and professes his integrity and determination to live to God's glory, Psalm 17:1. He prays for support, and expresses strong confidence in God, Psalm 17:5-9; describes the malice and cruelty of his enemies, and prays against them, Psalm 17:10-14; receives a strong persuasion of support and final victory, Psalm 17:15.


After numerous attempts on his life by Saul, David finally fled from his presence and went into hiding.  Over the next four years Saul actively pursued David to kill him because of an evil spirit that filled Saul with a rage induced jealousy.  Some scholars believe it was during the height of this pursuit that David penned this Psalm.  See 1 Samuel 27:1-12: The Arabic calls it "A prayer of a perfect man, of Christ himself, or of any one redeemed by him." Dr. Delaney, in his life of David, supposes that this poem was written just after parting with Jonathan, when David went into exile. The title is: Prayer With Confidence in Final Salvation; in which there is nothing that requires explanation.


David knew confidently where his salvation lay, he found it in the Lord God.  Therefore, he could pray with confidence and trust that he was under the protection of His creator. 


As he pens this particular psalm, he starts out like an accused man acting as his own lawyer.  He comes to God in prayer beseeching to be heard and yet we can see his faith in God as he cries out to Him.


1.  Hear a just cause, O Lord, attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. 2. Let my vindication come from Your presence; let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.  3.  You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have proposed that my mouth shall not transgress.


David is coming to God in earnestness, as he utters his prayer, and declares that he is not speaking with deceitful lips.  This suggests that he is speaking his prayer out loud, even if he is in private while doing so.  David was a man who was no stranger to prayer, he prayed often to God, but like any other man he had been led astray by taking the bait of Satan.  Because we live in a fallen world steeped in sin, none of us are perfect, not even those who walk closely with God.  Yet, David was able to recognize that he had made  sinful choices in his life just like any other man.  He was encouraged by his faith to expect God would notice his prayer.


4.  Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.  5.  Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip. 


We have all made bad choices in life, many are made because it’s what people of the world would do.  When we choose to seek God first in all our decisions (something that worldly people don’t do nor understand) God’s direction will not lead us astray.  David walked in God's ways; but, without Divine assistance, he could not walk steadily, even in them. The words of God's lips had shown him the steps he was to take, and he implores the strength of God's grace to enable him to walk in those steps. He had been kept from the paths of the destroyer; but this was not sufficient; he must walk in God's paths - must spend his life in obedience to the Divine will.  Negative holiness can save no man. "Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."   As David prayed, he points out that when he abides by God’s word he is kept from the path of the destroyer (Satan).  And as he leans into God his steps will be kept on His paths, and they will not slip.  Like David we too can claim this victory in our lives, even when we mess up and sin like David we can have the confidence and faith that we can come right back into God’s presence and seek forgiveness and grace, (Psalm 119:9-11.  How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.  With my whole heart I have sought You;  Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.)  This does not mean that we take advantage of God’s grace and go out and purposefully live a life practicing sin (Romans 6:1-2  What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer it it?)  The more we spend time hiding God’s word in our heart by reading and meditating on it, like David, the easier it is to recognize when we stray off His intended path for us.   


6.  I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.  7.  Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You from those who rise up against them.

As David we too can come to God in confidence that we will be heard when we call upon Him.  But not only heard, but that God would also answer our prayer.  We that have made a practice of growing closer to God, abiding in Him, searching Him out grow in our relationship with Him and have consistently experienced what David is writing about here in this psalm (Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.  Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.)  In John 11:41 Jesus is standing at the tomb of Lazarus, He looks up and gives thanks to His Father for hearing His prayer, even before He call Lazarus from the tomb.  Those who live a life of trusting in the Lord when they call out to Him will experience the same things David has written about and what Jesus gave thanks for.  When God protects, delivers, and answers our prayers it is truly a marvelous act of His loving kindness to us.  God is not offended by our requests to ask special favor upon us when we are pressed down with the burdens of the world.  Chesed is the Hebrew word for lovingingkindness, David appealed to this as well as God’s compassion and covenant faithfulness for deliverance.   It is a characteristic of God to save by His own power those who have decided to put their trust in Him, and to deliver them from anybody or anything that has come against them. 


8. Keep me as the apple of You eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, 9. From the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. 10. They have closed up their fat hearts; with their mouths they speak proudly.  11. They have surrounded us in our steps; they have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth.  12. As a lion is eager to tear his prey, and like a young lion lurking in secret places.


There are two images of protection mentioned here, the apple of ones eye and the shadow of ones wings.  To keep one as the apple of the eye, is to preserve, guard, and to defend as one defends that which is most precious and valuable.  The phrase concerning the eye is drawn from Deuteronomy 32:10 and refers to sight, which is greatly cherished and diligently protected.  When the Father created us, He placed our eyes in the best place that afforded them the most protection.   Therefore the prayer of the psalmist here is, that God would guard him, as one guards his sight—an object so dear and valuable to him.  “Hide my under the shadow of Your wings” is the other image of protection.  This is a metaphor taken from the hen and her chickens. See it explained at large in the note on Matthew 23:37 (“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing”).  Now, as we take our mining pick and dig deeper into these verses, we can see a picture of the life of Christ as He was constantly under attack from the ones that He came to save.  The interesting parallel here between David and Jesus was that their own people, who were jealous of them, and felt that they threatened their positions, sought both to kill them.  As David reflected on how Saul and his men pursued him, he was also writing prophetically about our Lord Jesus, and those that would pursue Him.  Jesus certainly was the Apple of His Father’s eye!  Also, what do you think our Heavenly Father is more concerned with, the tent that our soul resides in, or the soul that resides within the tent?  It was our soul that created in the image of God, not the body that it resides in.  As followers of Christ we have been guaranteed that protection from Jesus Himself through the gift of the Holy Spirit given by the Father, that seals us unto the day of redemption!

13.  Arise, O Lord, confront him, cast him down; deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword.  14. With Your hand from men, O Lord, from men of the world who have their portion in this life and whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.  They are satisfied with children, and leave the rest of their possession for their babes.  15. As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. 


This final portion of the psalm is the conclusion of David’s prayer of confidence in regards to his final salvation.  It is also a prophecy on how Christ would be preserved, through all the hardships and difficulties of His humiliation, to the glories and joys of His exalted state.  This is something that we as believers (Christians) should pattern our lives to in committing the keeping or our souls to God, as we trust Him to preserve them to His heavenly kingdom.  God uses people of this world, who are our enemies and enemies of our soul, as His sword to chastise us when needed to flee to Him for protection.  People of the world believe that they are seeking all that is good to satisfy the lustful urge to acquire things; not realizing that which they seek after is not good and already rotten.  This is why worldly things only bring temporary satisfaction.


For if I were to acquire all the wealth the world had to offer,


Without Christ I would have nothing of value