Psalm 17: the apple of the Lord's eye
A prayer of David.
(1)Hear me, LORD, my plea is just; listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer--it does not rise from deceitful lips.
(2)Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.
(3)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.
(4)Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent through what your lips have commanded.
(5)My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.
(6)I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
(7)Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
(8)Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
(9)from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
(10)They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.
(11)They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
(12)They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a fierce lion crouching in cover.
(13)Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down;
with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
(14)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.
(15)As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
Some have titled this psalm: In the Shadow of His Wings. I chose differently. Both are wonderful pictures of who the Lord was to David and who He can be to you and to me. What would you title this psalm?
In this psalm, David again calls on the Lord to defend his cause. David believes he is right and believes in his cause and believes the Lord will uphold it.
Brings up a good question to ask: how do we know our cause is just before the Lord? How do we make sure we are seeking after what is right and just, not what feels right for me?
In this psalm, maybe David had done some pre-praying for this request. He was confident that what he was asking for was the right thing, he was careful to tell the truth and seek the truth, and he knew his only hope (and his best hope) would come from the Lord.
David Guzik a pastor and blogger writes this summary about King David's prayer, “LORD, I believe my cause is just and I have searched my own heart for deceit. Yet I wait for Your vindication, and I want You to do and to promote what is right. If I’m not on Your side, move me so that I am.”
A good reminder: when I bring a request before God, I must first stop and calm my heart and mind. I must expect that what I want or need at that moment may not match up with what God has before me, and I must take a moment to align my heart, to breathe and let go.
...and know that what God has planned for me is infinity better than what I feel I need at that moment.
Do you stop and clear your mind like that? Obviously there are moments of great need where we call out to our loving Father and He arrives, having never left at all.
But later, when emotions have calmed and the need is still before me, I can breathe and seek the will of God.
After all, how long was Jesus praying in the Garden the night He was betrayed, the night before He died? Long enough for his devoted friends to fall asleep twice!
We know He cried out with that urgent need (to the point of sweating blood with his worry and urgency), but then...
...did He feel God's loving presence come over Him, and did He desire never to leave it? In fact, He left His prayer spot to check on His friends, then went back again to the safety and calmness and reassurance of His Father.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"
Friends, let us cry out to God when we need Him. But then, we breathe and we listen and we wait upon the mercy and the peace and the direction of the Lord.
Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips
I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Verse 4 (KJV)
Do you live "by the word of the lips of God?" David's choice of words here make me think, not only is he knowledgeable of God's written word, but he has heard the voice of God and has chosen to live by those words. David understood what God desired of him because he spoke to God, he knew God's heart, he lived out the Words of God.
The 19th century English preacher Alexander Maclaren says this, "The strong professions of heart-cleanness and outward obedience which follow are not so much denials of any sin as avowals of sincere devotion and honest submission of life to God's law."
I am not sure what the "paths of the destroyer" is referring to, but I wish to avoid that place at all cost. I will seek the "words of the lips of the Lord."
Show the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Verse 7 (NIV)
Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand from those who rise up against them. Verse 7 (NASB)
Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them that take refuge in thee from those that rise up against them. Verse 7 (ASV)
Why the different versions? Because Bible scholars have tried to translate David's words from ancient Hebrew into English and trying to find the perfect word is sometimes hard.
...the wonders of your great love, your lovingkindness, your marvelous lovingkindness!
...keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings.
What an awesome picture of the relationship that David had with our Lord.
"The wonder of extraordinary love is that God should make it such an ordinary thing, that he should give to us 'marvellous lovingkindness,' and yet should give it so often that it becomes a daily blessing, and yet remains marvellous still."
No one knows for sure what event or time David is writing about it, but most believe it was during the time that David was hunted by King Saul. If you read the Old Testament account of these years of David's life, you know that David had ample opportunity to kill Saul. But he didn't because he knew a time would come when God would remove Saul as king and give the crown to David.
He waited for God.
How did he know this? David had an intimate relationship with the Lord.
David walked with the Lord. He knew God's expectations of him; he trusted in God's plan. He knew these things with great certainty because he walked with the Lord.
Do you walk with the Lord?
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
David set himself apart from others of this world... "as for me..."
David again speaks of heaven as the time he can shake off all the worries and fears and pain of this world and be fully in God's presence forever. David speaks like he longs for the day when he can walk side by side with God in heaven.
"We tend to think of heaven and it's realities as an uncertain, cloudy dream world. In truth it is more real than our present environment, which by contrast will seem uncertain and cloudy when we awake in God's presence." -David Guzik
"The moment is at hand when we shall awake and start up and declare ourselves fools for having counted dreams as realities, whilst we were oblivious to the eternal realities." -FB Meyer
Until that day, David would continue to walk with Lord.
And so shall we.
Father in heaven, thank You for Your good and perfect will. Thank You that You walk beside us every day. Thank You that we can have that same relationship with You that David had. Help us to seek this relationship today, and thank You for the promise that Your eyes are always on us. We know that nothing on this earth surprises You, but, Father, our world is lost and afraid. We are afraid. Shelter us under Your wings, and may we be the apple of Your eye. During this challenging time may we seek You with all of our hearts and may we remember that this is not our home. Father, provide healing to this world, protect our loved ones, and strengthen Your church. Amen.