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Meditation Psalm 17

A prayer of David.
Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer –
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right.

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.
Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.

They close up their callous hearts,
and their mouths speak with arrogance.
They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion hungry for prey,
like a fierce lion crouching in cover.

Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
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.

As for me, I shall be vindicated and shall see your face;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

(Ps. 17:1-15 NIV)

The extent of the number of laments in the early part of the Psalms indicates the constant sense of spiritual warfare that the Psalmist experiences. The Psalm reflects the thoughts of an innocent person who has been placed under extreme pressure by those who have accused him. The Psalmist prays for the Lord to vindicate him with respect to the false accusations that have been made about him. These are not the pleas of a self-righteous person asserting their absolute innocence, but he is looking to the Lord to deal with these unjust charges and attacks. As the Lord knows his heart, the Psalmist says that his prayer does not arrive from deceitful lips. The Lord has probed and examined his heart. There was no plan to do evil and he has not transgressed by what he has said. Note how the examination moves from the heart, to the mouth, to outward actions. The Psalmist has kept himself from evil by paying heed to the Word of God (through what your lips have commanded v4).

The path of the Lord is the way of righteousness outlined in Psalm 1. The Psalmist turns again to petition the Lord and he uses the language of covenant. The Psalmist is confident that the Lord will answer him. This confidence is based on the relationship that the Psalmist has with the Lord. The Psalmist wants his heart to be fortified by a realisation of the wonders of God’s great (Hesed, covenant love) love. We are saved by God stretching out His arm of salvation. We take shelter with God as our refuge, shelter from all foes. The enemy intends evil, but God shelters us in love. The people of God are His treasured possession, He keeps us as the apple of His eye. Covenant shelter is found as we are hidden under the shadows of God’s wings. The wicked are intent at the destruction of the Psalmist. He is surrounded like a city under siege. The enemy close up their callous hearts and they speak arrogantly. The Psalmist piles on the metaphors to describe how it feels to be pursued so relentlessly. When you are attacked in this way, there is no action that you can take to appease the accusers because they have a callous heart. The beastlike nature finds expression in their callous hearts. The outward expression of the wicked is consistent with their inner being. The picture of the lion portrays the idea of brute strength and a ferocious appetite.

The reward for those who do evil belongs to this world, and does not go with them after death. The righteous will not be left hungry and their children will be cared for. The righteous will enjoy the presence of God and will see the face of God. The Lord has probed and examined his heart during the night v3, but in the morning when he awakes, he will be satisfied with seeing the face of God. The Psalmist’s satisfaction and confidence resides in the presence of God.

Prayer
Lord with circumstances changing and the church of Christ being so opposed from within and without, our safest place is under the shelter of your wing. Help us to mediate on the wonders of your covenant love. Let us be satisfied with your presence. Hear our prayer in Christ’s name. Amen