The Book of Psalms Chapter Seventeen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
You Will Be Satisfied
Verses 1-2: "Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips. 2 Let my judgment come forth from Your presence; Let Your eyes look with equity." Have you ever wished that someone, anyone perhaps, would simply LISTEN to you and HEAR what you are feeling? Have you felt that you were misjudged in the past and would like another chance, hoping you'll be treated better next time? That's what a lot of people want, and because people everywhere DON'T listen and DON'T judge fairly, we have divorces, broken friendships and world wars... It's that kind of world. David, however, who was the author of this Psalm, was on the right track when he prayed to the Lord, using the words of these verses. Life is like a courtroom in many respects, because we, as a race of beings, are very judgmental, and Jesus advised us in Matthew 7:1-5, to "Judge not, that you not be judged..." The problem began back in Genesis 3:5 & its context, when our original ancestors attempted to "be like God, knowing good and evil." Instead of becoming "like God," we, as a race of beings, became judgmental, suspicious of everything and everybody. David opened up honestly to God as we all should, taking the risk of complete exposure, hiding nothing from Him. God really does hear you and unlike humanity, He perceives us accurately. Tell God, who judges "with equity." Trust in Him and He will help you.
Verse 3: "You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night; You have tested me and You find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress." Secretly, down inside, each of us knows we are not perfect, even though we try vainly to keep our imperfections hidden. Nothing is hidden from Almighty God. He knows us at the center of our being, He sees us in the night, He tests us and if His Son is in us, the Father sees Him in our hearts, rendering us innocent in God's sight. Our part is to join Him in the work He is doing in and through us. We are being changed for the good, inside and out as He enables us and faith is our acceptance of what He is doing. We are all guilty and we know it, but we are pardoned in Christ Jesus; we are forgiven and made clean. By His grace, operative through faith in the Lord, we are His. He is sanctifying us, inside and out.
Verses 4-5: "As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips I have kept from the paths of the violent. 5 My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped." At home in my spare time, I am attempting to put together what is called a jigsaw puzzle, and in relation to it I conclude that you and I are like those puzzles. Our lives are fragmented and broken. We need to be put together by Someone who knows what He is doing, and the key missing Center Piece in the puzzle of our lives that will hold us together and solve the puzzle is Jesus the Christ. When you consider David the king, his "feet" in life HAD slipped. He committed adultery and to cover it up, he had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11:1-27). The only way the man could say, "My feet have not slipped," is to have been forgiven, and the only way to be forgiven is to trust in the Son of God who paid the price for our sins on the cross. That event occurred in our past, and it happened in David's future. But the effect of God's sacrifice reaches to us all. David had faith in the Lord, and when we do the same, we begin to find that we "have (been) kept from the paths of the violent." Just as it was for David, it becomes true for you and me.
Verses 6-7: "I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech. 7 Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand From those who rise up against them." Notice David's boldness in prayer. The man was one of many kings in the world at that time, and it was dangerous to approach a king unless you were invited to do so. Almighty God was David's Lord and King, just as He can be yours and mine. Though the Lord is able to destroy us in an instant, take note that He did not destroy David, though he was a sinner like we are. Look at the words of these verses: Call upon the Lord and have faith in Him like David did, that God will answer. The Lord listens, He loves us, He saves those who become the faithful, He offers safety and protection. Place your faith in the Lord and He will listen, answer, and He will be your Savior—forever.
Verses 8-9: "Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings 9 from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me." As the king of Israel, David's prayers were larger than just about himself. His personal enemies were often the enemies of his whole nation, and YOUR situation is likely larger than you normally understand. Even when you try to isolate yourself, others are affected by who and what you are. If you have, or if you become willing to place your trust in the Lord, you become like the painting or ceramic of a beautiful "apple" in the sight of God and find safety under His "wings." He hides you from harm in ways you have not fully perceived. Those people who hurt you—God has kept them from harming you more. The very fact that you are alive today is a testament that God has brought you to this moment. He loves you and has died on your behalf so that you might live to the fullest.
Verses 10-12: "They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly. 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; they set their eyes to cast us down to the ground. 12 He is like a lion that is eager to tear, and as a young lion lurking in hiding places." It's interesting that so many novels and movies have a plot about psychopaths or sociopaths who have themselves been harmed, and they respond by harming others, often innocent others who have done the psychopath no personal harm. Obviously, such people existed in David's day, allowing him to identify them as those with an "unfeeling heart." A source of their anger, David and the Holy Spirit continue, is pride. They have felt humiliated in some manner, and set out to prove they are better than others, such as the authorities who pursue them. Somehow, unfeeling people gain followers, attacking other lonely individuals and their nations with the intention of destroying them. Just like lions don't care who you are when it's lunch time, unfeeling people don't care. But God is real, He does care, He truly loves you, and there is more to life because He helps people like you, who look to Him.
Verses 13-14: "Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword, 14 from men with Your hand, O Lord, from men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes." Notice how DIRECT David's prayer is. The fears that people everywhere have were his, but he did what so few in humanity do: he told God EVERYTHING! And he asked for specific help in precisely those areas of need. He observed to the Lord in Verse 14, what the Lord already knew—that the "wicked" not only steal and cheat others, obtaining power with somebody else's money, but the problem becomes generational—they pass on money, power and hatred to their children. But notice by observing history, that kings, emperors, nations and empires, suddenly are no more. God's timetable may be slower than ours, but He does hear our prayers, and at just the right time—He acts and they are no more!
Verse 15: "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake." Sleep is not only an activity that most people engage in at night, but it is also imagery, because a deceased person often looks like they are asleep. So many in Israel, such as the later-in-time Sadducees, strangely came to believe that yes, God exists, but no, after death, we don't exist anymore. David had a better understanding of life than many theologians. The only way that he or any of us will see the Lord's "face" and His "righteousness" first-hand, is when we "awake" after death. As we can see in the words of John 14:3, the Son of God's promise: "I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also." This life is a preparation for eternity. It's not unlike a classroom where some pass the course and others don't. Those who have faith in the Lord like David did, go to a high and better life—for all eternity. And you "will be satisfied" forever.
Lord, I am Yours. I've tried living life on my own, but it hasn't worked out. I have done wrong things and I confess my sin to You right now. Please forgive me and receive me—forever. Protect me, Lord. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.