David's integrity. (1-7) The character of his enemies. His hope of happiness. (8-15)
Verses 1-7 This psalm is a prayer. Feigned prayers are fruitless; but if our hearts lead our prayers, God will meet them with his favour. The psalmist had been used to pray, so that it was not his distress and danger that now first brought him to his duty. And he was encouraged by his faith to expect God would notice his prayers. Constant resolution and watchfulness against sins of the tongue, will be a good evidence of our integrity. Aware of man's propensity to wicked works, and of his own peculiar temptations, David had made God's word his preservative from the paths of Satan, which lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very comfortable in the reflection, when we are in trouble. Those that are, through grace, going in God's paths, should pray that their goings may be held up in those paths. David prays, Lord, still hold me up. Those who would proceed and persevere in the ways of God, must, by faith prayer, get daily fresh supplies of grace and strength from him. Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, distinguishing favours, not common mercies, but be gracious to me; do as thou usest to do to those who love thy name.
Verses 8-15 Being compassed with enemies, David prays to God to keep him in safety. This prayer is a prediction that Christ would be preserved, through all the hardships and difficulties of his humiliation, to the glories and joys of his exalted state, and is a pattern to Christians to commit the keeping of their souls to God, trusting him to preserve them to his heavenly kingdom. Those are our worst enemies, that are enemies to our souls. They are God's sword, which cannot move without him, and which he will sheathe when he has done his work with it. They are his hand, by which he chastises his people. There is no fleeing from God's hand, but by fleeing to it. It is very comfortable, when we are in fear of the power of man, to see it dependent upon, and in subjection to the power of God. Most men look on the things of this world as the best things; and they look no further, nor show any care to provide for another life. The things of this world are called treasures, they are so accounted; but to the soul, and when compared with eternal blessings, they are trash. The most afflicted Christian need not envy the most prosperous men of the world, who have their portion in this life. Clothed with Christ's righteousness, having through his grace a good heart and a good life, may we by faith behold God's face, and set him always before us. When we awake every morning, may we be satisfied with his likeness set before us in his word, and with his likeness stamped upon us by his renewing grace. Happiness in the other world is prepared only for those that are justified and sanctified: they shall be put in possession of it when the soul awakes, at death, out of its slumber in the body, and when the body awakes, at the resurrection, out of its slumber in the grave. There is no satisfaction for a soul but in God, and in his good will towards us, and his good work in us; yet that satisfaction will not be perfect till we come to heaven.
Psalms 17:1-15 . This Psalm is termed a prayer because the language of petition is predominant. With a just cause, sincerely presented, the writer prays for a just decision and help and protection. Pleading former mercies as a ground of hope, he urges his prayer in view of the malice, pride, rapacity, and selfishness of his foes, whose character is contrasted with his pious devotion and delight in God's favor.
2. sentence--acquitting judgment.
from thy presence--Thy tribunal.
things that are equal--just and right, do Thou regard.
3. proved . . . visited . . . tried--His character was most rigidly tested, at all times, and by all methods, affliction and others ( Psalms 7:10 ).
purposed that, &c.--or, my mouth does not exceed my purpose; I am sincere.
4. works of men--sinful practices.
by the word of thy lips--as a guide ( Psalms 119:9 Psalms 119:11 Psalms 119:95 ).
5. May be read as an assertion "my steps or goings have held on to Thy paths."
6. wilt hear me--that is, graciously ( Psalms 3:4 ).
7. Show--set apart as special and eminent ( Exodus 8:18 , Psalms 4:3 ).
thy right hand--for Thy power.
8. Similar figures, denoting the preciousness of God's people in His sight, in Deuteronomy 32:10 Deuteronomy 32:11 , Matthew 23:37 .
9. compass me--(compare Psalms 118:10-12 ).
10. enclosed . . . fat--are become proud in prosperity, and insolent to God ( Deuteronomy 32:15 , Psalms 73:7 ).
11. They pursue us as beasts tracking their prey.
12. The figure made more special by that of a lion lurking.
13-15. disappoint--literally, "come before," or, "encounter him." Supply "with" before "sword" ( Psalms 17:13 ), and "hand" ( Psalms 17:14 ). These denote God's power.
14. men . . . world--all men of this present time. They appear, by fulness of bread and large families, to be prosperous; but ( Psalms 17:15 ) he implies this will be transient, contrasting his better portion in a joyful union with God hereafter.