Psalms 17

Listen to Psalms 17
1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; 1attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
2 From your presence 2let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!
3 You have 3tried my heart, you have 4visited me by 5night, you have 6tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
4 With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5 My steps have 7held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
6 I 8call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; 9incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7 10Wondrously show[a] your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from 11their adversaries at your right hand.
8 Keep me as 12the apple of your eye; hide me in 13the shadow of your wings,
9 from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who 14surround me.
10 15They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they 16speak arrogantly.
11 They have now surrounded our 17steps; they set their eyes to 18cast us to the ground.
12 He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion 19lurking in ambush.
13 Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14 from men by your hand, O LORD, from 20men of the world whose 21portion is in this life.[b] You fill their womb with treasure;[c] they are satisfied with 22children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
15 As for me, I shall 23behold your face in righteousness; when I 24awake, I shall be 25satisfied with your likeness.

Psalms 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

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.

Cross References 25

  • 1. Psalms 142:6; [Psalms 61:1; Jeremiah 7:16]
  • 2. [Psalms 26:1]
  • 3. See Job 23:10
  • 4. Job 31:14
  • 5. Psalms 16:7; [Job 33:15]
  • 6. Judges 7:4; Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:7; [Psalms 139:1; Malachi 3:2, 3]
  • 7. Job 23:11; [Psalms 44:18]
  • 8. Psalms 86:6, 7; Psalms 116:1, 2
  • 9. See Psalms 31:2
  • 10. Psalms 31:21
  • 11. Psalms 44:5; Psalms 59:1; Psalms 139:21
  • 12. Deuteronomy 32:10; Zechariah 2:8
  • 13. Psalms 36:7; Psalms 57:1; Psalms 63:7; Psalms 91:4; [Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34]; See Ruth 2:12
  • 14. [1 Samuel 23:26]
  • 15. [Psalms 119:70]
  • 16. Psalms 31:18; 1 Samuel 2:3
  • 17. [Psalms 89:51]
  • 18. Psalms 62:4
  • 19. [Psalms 10:8, 9]
  • 20. [Psalms 10:18; Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34]
  • 21. Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; Luke 16:25
  • 22. [Job 21:11]
  • 23. Job 33:26; 1 John 3:2; [Psalms 11:7]
  • 24. Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2
  • 25. [Psalms 16:11]

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or Distinguish me by
  • [b]. Or from men whose portion in life is of the world
  • [c]. Or As for your treasured ones, you fill their womb

Chapter Summary


\\<>\\. This prayer was put up by David either in his own person, on his own account, praying to God for the vindication of his cause, and for salvation and deliverance from his enemies; or in the person of the Messiah, whose type he was, and of the whole church, so Jerom of old interpreted it; and the title of it in the Arabic version is, ``a prayer in the person of a perfect man, and of Christ himself, and of everyone that is redeemed by him;'' in which preservation and protection are prayed for, and hope of eternal life is expressed. It was written, according to Theodoret, when David suffered persecution from Saul.

Psalms 17 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.