PSALM 17.

The Believer Takes His Refuge in God.

Every true believer is a poor sinner in the sight of God, knowing that his natural sinfulness will not permit justifying himself before the tribunal of divine justice. At the same time every believer can and does cheerfully approach God, not on the strength of his own merits, but by virtue of his trust in the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. Moreover, he may, at such a time, urge the sincerity of his conduct, the righteousness of his life, for the good works which he performs are the work of God in him and will therefore well merit the Lord's attention. A prayer of David.

MAKING A PLEA ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS OF LIFE. V. 1. Hear the right, O Lord, listening as the believer presents the argument of his righteousness, attend unto my cry, his loud and importunate call; give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips, out of lips that have nothing to do with hypocrisy and deceit; for if he were defiled with guilt, he would not dare to approach the Lord, praying lips, in that case, being filled with falsehood. V. 2. Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence, that acquitting him of wrong-doing, God Himself stating that David was not guilty before Him; let Thine eyes behold the things that are equal, God sees and judges aright, He reads the hearts and minds and knows true uprightness. V. 3. Thou hast proved mine heart testing it for its sincerity; Thou hast visited me in the night, an investigation at that time being especially searching since the soul is then undisturbed by the happenings and noises of the outside world; Thou hast tried me, making a very careful examination, and shalt find nothing, no wicked thoughts; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress, he would not permit a sinful thought to pass the door of his mouth. V. 4. Concerning the works of men, as David noted in what manner men in general behaved, by the word of Thy lips, in accordance with God's command, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer, he had not followed the example of the wicked in becoming guilty of oppression, of robbery and violence. V. 5. Hold up my goings in Thy paths, his steps follow the ways outlined by God, that my footsteps slip not, he has not left the way of God's command on either side, he can in all sincerity urge his righteousness before the tribunal of God. This is an example to all believers and at the same time a warning against hypocrisy; for only he who has a good conscience is able to pray in this manner.

DAVID CALLS UPON GOD FOR HELP. V. 6. I have called upon Thee, namely, in the capacity in which he described himself, as a child of God who could rightfully point to the righteousness of his life, for Thou wilt hear me, O God, of this David was sure. Incline Thine ear unto me, in the attitude of most careful attention, and hear my speech. V. 7. Show Thy marvelous loving-kindness, giving him a proof, an exhibition, of His grace, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them, this being the reason why David puts his trust in the Lord with such firm confidence. V. 8. Keep me as the apple of the eye, this being named as a possession most dear to men; hide me under the shadow of Thy wings, as the mother-bird shelters her young in tender protection, cp. Deut. 32, 10. 11; Ps. 36, 7; Matt. 23, 37, v. 9. from the wicked that oppress me, greedily surrounding him for the purpose of wasting and devouring him, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about, ready to attack him from all sides. V. 10. They are enclosed in their own fat, they are dead to all human feeling; with their mouth they speak proudly, they are insolent in their behavior, as though certain victory were near. V. 11. They have now compassed us in our steps, so that the believers cannot make a move without their knowledge; they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth, they were eagerly watching in order to take their chance and throw down the believers to the ground, thereby completely overwhelming them; v. 12. like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, eagerly lurking on its path, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places, cowering in his hiding-places, ready to spring upon an unsuspecting victim. V. 13. Arise, O Lord, again David's ringing appeal, disappoint him, going forth to meet the adversary and to anticipate his wicked move, cast him down; deliver my soul from the wicked, from all the unrighteous under the leadership of Satan, which is Thy Sword, by His almighty sword the Lord can quickly bring deliverance, v. 14. from men which are Thy hand, rather, delivering from the wicked projects of these people with His hand, O Lord, from men of the world, whose entire interest is in this life, which have their portion, the measure of all they desire, in this life, and whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasure, giving them of the rich store of temporal goods which are under His control. They are full of children, being blessed also in this respect, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes, their children inheriting this world's goods from them in great plenty. Thus the good fortune of the ungodly is shown to consist only in this world's treasures, the height of their ambition being reached when money, honor, and pleasures are theirs. But the psalmist, in conclusion, places himself in direct contrast to all this earthly happiness with its attendant sins. V. 15. As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness, as the happy possessor of the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, the most glorious treasure of the Christian; I shall be satisfied, with an everlasting satisfaction, unlike any transient enjoyment in this world, when I awake, with Thy likeness, the original image of God restored in the risen believers in the form of a perfect knowledge of God and in true righteousness and holiness, Eph. 4, 24; Col. 3, 10. That, in a word, will be the happiness of the great resurrection at the end of time, to see God face to face and to be with Him in everlasting righteousness and holiness, world without end.