Psalms 17

A prayer of David.

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 will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing 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 35

  • 1. Psalms 30:10; Psalms 64:1; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 140:6
  • 2. Psalms 5:2; Psalms 39:12; Psalms 142:6; Psalms 143:1; Psalms 61:1
  • 3. S Psalms 5:1
  • 4. Isaiah 29:13
  • 5. Psalms 24:5; Psalms 26:1; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 50:8-9; Isaiah 54:17
  • 6. Psalms 99:4
  • 7. Psalms 139:1; Jeremiah 12:3
  • 8. S Job 7:18; Psalms 26:2; Psalms 66:10
  • 9. Job 23:10; Jeremiah 50:20
  • 10. Psalms 39:1
  • 11. Job 23:11; Psalms 44:18; Psalms 119:133
  • 12. Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 73:2; Psalms 121:3; Psalms 18:36
  • 13. Psalms 86:7
  • 14. Psalms 116:2
  • 15. S Psalms 4:1; Psalms 88:2
  • 16. Psalms 31:21; Psalms 69:13; Psalms 106:45; Psalms 107:43; Psalms 117:2
  • 17. S Psalms 10:12; Psalms 20:6
  • 18. Psalms 2:12
  • 19. S Numbers 6:24
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 32:10; Proverbs 7:2
  • 21. Psalms 27:5; Psalms 31:20; Psalms 32:7
  • 22. Ruth 2:12; Psalms 36:7; Psalms 63:7; Isaiah 34:15
  • 23. Psalms 31:20; Psalms 109:3
  • 24. Psalms 73:7; Psalms 119:70; Isaiah 6:10
  • 25. S 1 Samuel 2:3
  • 26. Psalms 37:14; Psalms 88:17
  • 27. Psalms 7:2; Psalms 10:9; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 12:8; Lamentations 3:10
  • 28. S Genesis 49:9
  • 29. S Numbers 10:35
  • 30. Psalms 7:12; Psalms 22:20; Psalms 35:8; Psalms 55:23; Psalms 73:18
  • 31. Luke 16:8
  • 32. Psalms 49:17; Luke 16:25
  • 33. Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 57:17; Psalms 73:3-7
  • 34. S Psalms 3:5
  • 35. S Numbers 12:8; Psalms 4:6-7; Psalms 16:11; S Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 17

\\<>\\. 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