The Book of Psalms Bible Study Psalm 17

Our last Psalm for this week is going to be Psalm 17. Psalm 18 is long and needs to be broken up, and I don’t want to break it up over the weekend.

This Psalm teaches us that king David was consumed by a passion for the living G-d. David realized that when G-d is pleased with someone’s life He instils within them a Kingdom joy.

In this Psalm we learn many principles about ordering our lives rightly.

Inscription: ‘Prayer’ – A person who prays is a person who recognizes that spiritually he is inadequate, and he needs G-d in his life – for all pursuits, not just Kingdom pursuits. He understands, in other words, his absolute dependence upon G-d.

v1: “Hear” – David wants G-d’s attention, and he wants G-d to respond (to “attend”/”give ear”).

· A just cause is a righteous cause. If we are interested in righteousness, we can be assured that G-d is going to get involved in our lives. If we are not interested in righteousness, then G-d is not going to be actively involved in our lives.

· Cry – the word used here is another word for a “shout” (usually a shout that is rooted in excitement or enthusiasm). David is raising his voice (praying) in a loud way.

· “MY” – this word appears over and over again until we get to v11. David speaks in the first person (about himself personally).

· “Not from deceitful lips” – When we go before G-d we need to go before Him in truth. Our prayers need to be transparent before G-d.

v2: My vindication: David is revealing to us that he does nothing without recognizing that G-d sees all things. We should be people who act in a way to remember that everything goes before G-d.

· Your eyes look: This is a word for perceiving. G-d’s sees everything in its totality. Nothing is hidden from G-d.

· Upright = straight/proper things. We don’t want to be walking on crooked pathways.

v3: Tested my heart: G-d doesn’t look to the outward things. He doesn’t pay attention and evaluate us according to our makeup, the way we accessorise our clothes etc. He pays attention to what we have done with our hearts.

· Visited – this is a word that shows the involvement of G-d. G-d checks our heart, and He responds according to what He finds in it.

· At night – even while we are sleeping G-d continues to work in us. Darkness can also speak about the hidden places – G-d works in the hidden places in our lives. Often we don’t even discern His activity, but we see the results of it.

· Tried me – this is also an expression for being refined. G-d removes all that is impure. David is so committed to G-d that he is telling G-d that He will not find anything unfit or improper in his heart. His heart is pure before G-d.

· I have purposed – David made a commitment, a decision, that his mouth would not sin. This is the type of man that David wants to be.

v4: Works = activities. What David is saying here is that our actions should be based upon the words of G-d.

· Kept myself – David guarded himself from the pathways of the wicked. When we live our lives according to the Word of G-d we stay on a safe path.

v5: “Uphold’ is a word for support/giving assistance to. David realizes that he can’t be in the will of G-d unless G-d supports/helps him in it. We are totally dependent upon G-d.

· When G-d supports our steps and places us where He wants us to be then we can have assurance that our steps are not going to be moved away from where we should be -we’re not going to collapse.

v6: Some of the commentators point out that this is a verse of assurance. If we apply everything we have studied, up until this verse, to our lives we place ourselves in a position whereby we can rest assured that G-d will hear us, and He will respond to us.

v7: “Showing’ and ‘Saving’ are words that speak of distinction or separation. They are unique and have a distinct purpose. G-d shows us His grace/lovingkindness and that separates us/saves from those things that we ought not be connected to.

· The grace/lovingkindness/Saviour is at G-d’s right hand (Acts 2:33)

v8: “Apple” = pupil. The pupil is a very sensitive part of the eye. G-d is sensitive toward us. We need to live in a way that is sensitive toward Him.

· Wings = a corner or an edge. It is a word related to the fringe garment (the tallit or four cornered prayer shawl). Those corners had fringes/tassels on them and were a reminder of the commandments of G-d (Numbers 15:38-40). When we are living under the shadow/influence of the commandments of G-d (we take them seriously) He hides us/keeps us/preserves us.

v9: Oppress = strips me bare, a word for plundering.

v10: David is under attack. “Closed up” speaks of oppression.

· Speak proudly – they exalt themselves.

v11: Some of the Bibles don’t change the personal pronoun “me”, but some Bibles change it to “us” (like the NKJV). This is due to different manuscripts of this psalm and therefore different vowel pointings on the letters. This is not a challenge to the authority of the text, but points to

human (scribal) imperfection. In the LXX (Septuagint) it remains as a personal pronoun (ie “me”)

· Surrounded – when we are going about our daily life the enemy surrounds us.

· Set their eyes…down to the earth – a Hebrew idiom meaning that they want to bring David to subjection/defeat/destruction.

v12: David is speaking about G-d in this verse. David likens G-d to a lion (the Lion of the tribe of Judah) who is ready to rise up to defeat David’s enemies.

v13: “Arise” is a word of confrontation.

· ‘Cast him down’: – make the enemies submit.

· The word ‘sword’ is the normal word for sword, but it can have the idea of the Word of the L-rd (Rev 19:15). G-d’s Word has so much power that He only needs to speak and our enemies flee.

v14: This is not an easy verse to understand. It speaks about having a resurrection hope. Some people only have hope in this life – but David has a hope in the eternal life to come (a hope of being separated from this world and the things of this world).

· G-d separates us from evil men/our enemies by His hand.

· Many individuals live in a way that is only focused on their children and on their children’s children – their life is spent working on their legacy, what they are going to leave behind, rather than focusing on eternal life and storing up reward/treasure in heaven – for what is still ahead. They have their treasure now and not in the age to come. We should be concerned with and investing in the next generation, but our goal and focus for this next generation is far different to the worldly-minded goals and objectives for the next generation. G-d gives us treasures in this life but many people “fill their own bellies” with it – here today and gone tomorrow. They misappropriate the treasures G-d gives them.

v15: “As for me” (But…) a word of contrast. David does not behave like these people in v14.

He was not interested in only carrying on his heritage from one generation to another so that his name wouldn’t die out. David was interested in being in G-d’s Presence (and experiencing His blessing – seeing His face) and living according to G-d’s righteousness.

· David said that he would be satisfied to awake (many commentators see this as a reference to resurrection) and be like G-d (Eph 4:22-24, 1 John 3:2). David is not loathing death. He understands that his end comes with a new beginning.

David is telling us that he’s interested in righteousness, in the objectives of G-d, and not in the

things of this world. This world is coming to an end. David is thinking about resurrection. He knows that he is going to behold (fully, completely) the face of G-d and that gives him the motivation to live his life in a way that is pleasing to G-d.

2 thoughts on “The Book of Psalms Bible Study Psalm 17”

  1. These words make me thirsty and hungry for God and for his righteousness these words help me to realize I have to think about what I’m doing and what I’m saying whether it pleases God’s hard or not I sure want to please God’s heart into life is start and I know the only way to do that is to obey and seek him in his word daily thank you so much

  2. your explanations continue to enlighten my understanding of the Psalms. This week it was evident how they link together from chapter to chapter. I’m really happy to have such teaching: thank you

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