‘Truth for Truckers’*February 17, 2014* Psalm 17 “Requests for Vital Living”
This Psalm, entitled ‘Requests for Vital Living’ involves communion with the LORD and warfare in the physical and spiritual realm. In (v.1, 2, 5, 8, 13) David is Demanding the Attention of God. And, by the responses that are intermingled in the remaining verses, God gave him his desires. When we are down and almost counted out in our own thinking, we must turn to the LORD and appeal to Him in order for the situation to be remedied.
In (v.1, 2) David makes his appeal through five requests: ‘Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goes not out of feigned lips. Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence; let Thine eyes behold the things that are equal.’ He is requesting the just and equitable judgment of God in his present situation and so with great emphasis he gives forth this five-fold barrage of attention getting bold demands from his Jehovah God, the One Who alone can supply the answer to his oppressing circumstances.
Then, in (v.3, 4) he sets forth his case: ‘Thou hast proved mine heart; Thou has visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me and shall find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the Word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.’ David’s review of God’s past dealings with him and the good results, plus his own resolve concerning his speech and the utilization of God’s Word to give him victory over the working of ‘the destroyer’ demonstrate his good testimony which is the basis upon which he makes his manifold requests of the LORD.
In (v.5-8) he continues to show his desire for God’s working in his life: ‘Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon Thee, for Thou will hear me, O God: incline Thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Show Thy marvelous loving-kindness, O Thou that saves by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings.’
These six requests focus upon David’s overwhelming desire for God to exercise His power and presence in his life. In contrast to ‘the paths of the destroyer’ David asks the LORD to keep him in His paths, so that his footsteps do not slip. He knows this is his only hope as Psalm 37:31tells us: ‘The law of his God is in his heart none of his steps shall slide’. He reminds the LORD that he has called upon Him, and needs the listening ear of the God of heaven. His next two requests show his understanding of the character of God for He alone is the One who can provide mercy, and He is the One who can save/deliver/rescue by the power of His ‘right hand’, however, trust/faith is required, ‘For without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6).
When he asks the LORD to ‘Keep him as the apple of the eye’(v.8) he is recalling a verse in Deuteronomy 32:10: ‘He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye’ referring to the Lord’s people in Moses song of joy. Not only does he use this endearing term, but he also uses another familiar term found three other times in the Psalms ‘The shadow of Thy wings’ which refers to the protection that God provides in times of trouble. It is not surprising that, David, ‘the man of war’, would be the one to exclusively use this comforting description of God’s place of nurturing safety and security.
It brings to mind the statement the Lord Jesus Christ made after pronouncing stern condemnation upon the scribes and Pharisees: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.’ (Matthew 23:37) This heart rending declaration by the Savior of the World, shows His longing desire to bring under His protection and nurturing care the nation of Israel whom He loves with an everlasting love. This is exactly what David is looking for from Jehovah in (v.8)
In (v.9-12) unfolds ‘The Deadly Enemies Described’ section: ‘From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about. They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly. They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth; Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.’ This nasty scene describes the proud, heartless, wicked and oppressing men who are recognized as cold-blooded murderers, surrounding David and his men in an attempt to throw them to the ground and kill them by violently tearing them up as a lion would his prey.
In response, David calls upon the LORD to take action: ‘Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul for the wicked, which is Thy sword’ (v.13) These four rapid-fire demands are designed to bring the LORD into the battle immediately thereby rescuing David and his men and securing the victory. His concluding verse sheds light on his view of the hereafter when he says ‘As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.’ (v.15). With bold confidence David tells us that he fully expects to see His God and the cause is his righteousness. And, he adds in closing, that he will be like his God when he enters heaven. This is one of the most sure and defining statements in the Old Testament concerning the expectations of life after death, and it supplies us, the New Testament believer, with strong faith-building encouragement.
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