Weds 17 February - Psalm 17
1 Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer –
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
2 Let my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right.
3 Though you probe my heart,
though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.
4 Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what your lips have commanded.
5 My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.
6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
9 from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
10 They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.
11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord,
from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
may their children gorge themselves on it,
and may there be leftovers for their little ones.
15 As for me, I shall be vindicated and shall see your face;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
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Meditation on Psalm 17
David is in a tough situation but his confidence is in God in spite of all he is going through.
There are three prayers.
- Verses 1-2 “Hear me; Listen to me; Hear me.”
- Verses 6-8 “I call on you; Show me; Keep me.”
- Verses 13-14 “Rise up; rescue me; save me.”
In between each of these prayers David lays out his case like a defence lawyer in the courtroom.
The background to this Psalm is probably in 1 Samuel 24-26. David is on the run from King Saul between his being anointed by Samuel (1 Samuel 16) and crowned (2 Samuel 5).
In his first prayer, David is laying out his plea for justice. He seems rather presumptuous in his claims as if he is perfect but he is not saying that. Come back to 1 Samuel 24 where David has the opportunity to take King Saul’s life but he doesn’t. Read 1 Samuel 24: 9-10 to see how David responds to Saul.
Again, in 1 Samuel 26:8-25 when David came across Saul again, he could have killed him but, again, he saved his life. Thus his plea in this first prayer is not that of a self-righteous person. Rather, his plea is based on his refusal to act wickedly towards the anointed king. He appeals on the basis that Saul misunderstands him and has listened to those who say he is in danger from David. David longs for the LORD’s vindication, even if his fellow human beings won’t vindicate him.
In verses 3-6 David is emphasising his relationship with the LORD who examines him – “you will find…” says David. He refers to his own thoughts, his words, his ways, his walk. Here is a reminder of his prayer recorded in Psalm 139: 23-24. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In his second prayer, David reminds us of the LORD’s work in our lives – His listening ear; His great love; His salvation; His protection; His delight.
‘The apple of your eye’ is a term used in Moses’ prayer (Deuteronomy 32:10). This refers to the pupil of the eye, a delicate part of the eye which is essential for vision. It must be protected from all harm and danger – hence the protection of the eyelid. Today this phrase refers to someone who is very special – how beautiful that we could also use it of how the LORD sees us.
‘The shadow of your wing’ is another reference to protection. It is a Hebrew metaphor which is speaks of protection against oppression.
Between the second and third prayer David is laying out the charges against those who oppress him (verses 9-12). They are ‘wicked; out for destroying me; surround me; callous; arrogant; hunters (they track me down); dangerous (like a lion).’
In his third prayer David seems to be rather vindictive. He prays, “confront them; bring them down; strike them with your sword; fill them with their own punishments.”
But remember how his enemies were pursuing him and chasing him. His prayer is that LORD will bring them to account in His own way and according to His justice.
What confidence in the LORD he ends with – he looks forward, with the assurance that he will still know the presence of the LORD with him and all persecution and oppression will have ended
In this context, we can remember our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.
Thursday 18 February - Psalm 18
Friday 19 February - Psalm 19
Saturday 20 February - Psalm 20
Sunday 21 February - Psalm 21
Monday 22 February - Psalm 22
Tuesday 23 February - Psalm 23