Reflections of the Psalms

Posted on: July 14th, 2013

Psalm 17

This psalm is simply entitled, “A prayer of David”. Psalm I7 is one of five psalms that bear this title. Although the titles to the psalms are not considered inspired, it is clear that these five represent David’s prayers that he would make when he was being oppressed by his enemies, or beset by severe trials.

Today, this theme is very appropriate. Oh, our personal enemies are not exactly the same as David’s. We don’t have Philistines or Syrians charging us, but the enemies we face are just as dangerous. Our enemies are things that we are all familiar with – they certainly aren’t very glamorous, but they must be met. Our enemies are bills, fatigue, business, meetings, non-Christian friends and relatives – the list could go on forever! Yes, we are faced by a HUGE army of different things that will try to interfere with our commitment and life with our Lord. In verse 12, David accurately described what we face. “They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover”.

In the first six verses, David states the basis for his plea for the Lord’s help, and that basis is rather surprising. In verse one he calls his plea a righteous one. In verse 2 he states that there is no wrong in his heart. In verse 3 he writes, “I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.” In verse 4 he says that he has kept from the ways of the violent, and in verse 5 he says that he had not slipped from the Lord’s path.

David’s words are brave, but is there a hint of self-righteousness in his words? As Jesus went on His way, a rich young ruler approached Him to follow Him. The young man claimed to have followed the 10 commandments, and he was sincere, because the scriptures said that Jesus loved him. However, he would not give up his wealth to follow the Lord.

David’s words sound very much like that young ruler. Later, with the affair with Bathsheba, David would realize that he was flawed like all others. Through the “Good News”, we know today that perfect conduct can only be achieved in Jesus Christ. We cannot do it alone. It is only when our lives are replaced with the perfect life of our Lord, that we can approach the throne of grace with boldness and confidence.

In verse 8, David used two descriptive metaphors that are very interesting, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadows of your wings…” How many of us have heard the expression, “He’s the apple of their eye”? The source of that saying is Psalm 17. The apple of the eye is the pupil. The eye, especially the pupil of the eye, is one of the most important parts of our body. It is also one of the best protected parts. In a spiritual sense, the eye is also significant, because it is often called the door or gateway to the heart. In other words, the eye is very precious. In verse 8, David is asking the Lord to keep him – protect him as if he  was the pupil (or apple) of His own eye.

David’s prayer was a plea, or petition, that God accept Him, and consider him precious in His sight. We can echo that prayer, but we can do it with confidence! As Christians, we ARE God’s children, and as children, our Father is concerned for us just like any Father. Again, what a blessing we enjoy today!

The second metaphor is also very rich, “hide me in the shadows of your wings”. David often used this idea to describe his relationship with God. The picture here is of a mother hen spreading her protective wings over her chicks. Again, what a beautiful description of what God does for His children! As a Christian, we are precious in our Father’s eyes. In many ways, we are protected from the dangers that we face. We are not exempt from the trials of life, but we will never be tempted by more than we can handle.

One of the deadly weapons that Satan will try to use on us is discouragement, and a sense of being alone. “No one knows what I’m experiencing,” or “I feel all alone.” But that is not what the Bible teaches. Christians are NOT alone. We are not simply cast out the door to find our own way. Ever step, we experience protection and guidance. There is nothing miraculous about this, as some misuse the word, but we not neglected by our Father or our Savior.  OUR job is to grow, mature, stay alert, and not allow Satan’s lies to divert us from the inheritance that is promised.

Yes, like a mother hen, our Lord does cover us with His loving protection so that we will stay safe and warm.

Jim Shelburn