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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
Psalms 17



Verses 1-15

Psalm 17:1-15

The seventeenth psalm is another prayer of David. And it is, again, one of those prayers where David is sort of pleading his own cause, his own righteousness before the Lord.

Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry; give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of deceitful lips ( Psalm 17:1 ).

It is important that our prayers not come out of deceitful lips. I am afraid that many times I have prayed rather deceitfully, hoping to sort of con God. I haven"t always been absolutely honest in my prayers. I have tried to make myself look better than I really am in many of my prayers. And I find that God can"t deal with me until I get totally honest with Him. As long as I keep saying, "Well, Lord, I can do it. I just need a little help." I am not really honest, and the help doesn"t seem to be forthcoming. Because if He would help me under those conditions, then I would go around saying, "I always knew I could do it." So it"s when I get really honest and say, "Lord, I can"t do it. I need help." Then He comes in and helps me, cause then all I can say is, "Wow! The Lord really helped me." And I give the credit and the glory to Him. "Lord, You know that I get a little upset with this brother. I don"t love him as much as I should. I don"t have that agape for him, Lord." That is sort of deceitful. That"s not really telling the truth. "God, You know I hate his guts. I can"t stand him. He makes me sick every time I look at him. I want to punch him in the nose. God, change my heart and my attitude." Then God can deal with me.

So David is saying, "Lord, I am not speaking out of deceitful lips." And it is something that we need to watch in our prayers. It can be very subtle, very subtle. We have not because we ask not; we ask and receive not because we ask amiss, that we might consume it upon our own lust. The true motive behind our prayers is often veiled. "Oh God, save my son. Bring him to You, Lord." And in my mind I am thinking, "I don"t know what I am going to do with this kid. Can"t control him any longer. I just know that one of these days, he keeps on the way he is, I am going to get a telephone call and it is going to be his one telephone call that he has from jail. They"re gonna pick him up. Our name will get in the paper. What a disgrace that will be when all of the people will see our name. Our son arrested. Can"t have that! Oh Lord, save him. Lord, save him. I don"t want the embarrassment of my name in the paper, you know." Motive! It isn"t that my heart is breaking because my son is destined in this path for hell. It"s that I don"t want my good name drug down into the gossip column.

"Oh God, send a revival to our church. Lord, save souls. Bring in the lost, pack the place, Lord. I don"t know what we are going to do if we don"t raise our budget some. If we only had about five new families we wouldn"t have to worry about the budget. Lord, send in the souls. Maybe the bishop will notice that I am a pretty good pastor and I might even get a promotion to a bigger church. God, save souls." You know. Motive! Oh, how we have to watch it. Because I can deceive myself. You see, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked and we don"t always know it ourselves. That is why David, in Psalm 139:1-24 said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there is a wicked way there, and then You lead me in Your path. O God, preserve me." Hear the prayer that comes out of unfeigned, unclean, not out of the feigned or deceitful lips.

Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal ( Psalm 17:2 ).

And, again, he is asking really for justice here, something that I never do when I pray, but David feels that his cause is right here. He does declare,

I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress ( Psalm 17:3 ).

And that is a great purpose to make. I think that we so often transgress with our mouth. Our mouth can get us in the most trouble it seems.

Years ago when we first started, before we had any children, when we first started in the ministry, we knew all about how kids ought to be raised in those days. We were beginning to discover that we didn"t know as much as we thought we knew about marriage, but we still knew all that there was to know about raising kids, till we had our own. And at this point we know that we know nothing about raising kids. But at that time, we put a notice in the bulletin, "Teach your child to be silent; he"ll learn soon enough to talk." We get into trouble talking.

I"ve purposed in my heart I"ll not allow my mouth to transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Hold up my goings in thy paths that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me. Show your marvelous loving-kindness. O thou that savest by thy right hand them that put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me under the shadow of thy wings ( Psalm 17:3-8 ),

Now David is asking the Lord to just keep him there as the pupil, the apple of His eye, and hiding me under the shadow of thy wings.

From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who encircle me ( Psalm 17:9 ).

And then he speaks not so nicely about his enemies.

They"re enclosed in their own fat: their mouth speaks proudly. They"ve encircled our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth; like a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a younger lion lurking in secret places. Arise, O LORD, disappoint them, cast them down: deliver my soul from the wicked, from men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life ( Psalm 17:10-14 ),

What an interesting phrase, and how important. Talking about the men of the world, he is talking about men who have their portion in this life. Now, in the seventy-third psalm, we have an interesting case where the psalm confesses, "Hey, I almost slipped. I almost went under. When I looked around and I saw the prosperity of the wicked. I saw these wicked men, and man, they had everything they wanted, everything their hearts desired. People would pour out a full cup to them. They didn"t lack for a thing, and when I saw how prosperous the wicked were, then I said, "Hey man, it doesn"t pay to try to live the right kind of a life. You know, better that you are wicked. You seem to have it better off. Here I am trying to live the right kind of a life and I"m in trouble all the time. It seems like I am always broke and I am always going through such hardships, and it really doesn"t pay to serve the Lord."" And he said, "When I sought to understand these things it almost wiped me out. My foot almost slipped. Until I went into the house of the Lord. And then I saw their end. Surely You have set them in slippery places, in a moment they go down into the pit and all." But he saw now the end.

Now, so he talks here of the men of the world who have their portion in this life only. You see, God is interested in your eternal welfare. Don"t forget that. God is always dealing with you in the light of eternity. I am always interested in the light of today. I am looking for my ease today. I am looking for comfort today. I am looking for deliverance today. I want it now. So I can enjoy it for the next few minutes. But God is looking at me with eternity in view, and He wants me to have the eternal blessings of His glory and of His kingdom, and it may take depriving me of some of those things that I think I want right now in order that I might have a richer eternity with Him.

When Jesus spoke very harshly saying, "If your eye offend thee, pluck it out." And we cringe at such a horrible thing, which He wanted you to do. He is just using an illustration that just causes you to cringe, "Oouhuhu, can"t pluck out my eye!" And He is trying to get that kind of a revulsion in you, because He is seeking to point out how important eternity is. Now, I think my eyes are extremely important, but they are not as important as my eternity with Him. And that is the illustration He"s trying to make. Just that your eternal welfare with Him is the most important thing in this life. And the men of the world, they have their portion in this life only. But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here; my portion is coming in the life to come. My portion is there with Him in His kingdom.

The fifteenth verse is one of my favorites in the whole psalms, or in the Bible as far as that goes.

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness ( Psalm 17:15 ).

I am going to behold Your face, Lord, in righteousness. This reminds me of what Paul said in Corinthians, where he said, "And we with open face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed from glory to glory into the same image by His Spirit in us" ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ). I"ll be satisfied. I"ll behold Your face in righteousness, and I"ll be satisfied the day I awake in Your likeness. Oh, how I long for that day. When I open my eyes, and I look in the mirror and there I am in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Now I see through the glass darkly, but then, face to face. His work complete in me. Conformed into the image of God"s dear Son.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, it does not yet appear what we are going to be, but we know that when He appears we are going to be like Him" ( 1 John 3:2 ). Now, people are all wondering, "Well, what kind of body?" I am not at all worried; I am satisfied that it is going to be like Him, for I am going to see Him as He is. People are always worried, "What kind of body am I going to have when the Lord comes? What will I look like? I don"t know if I want to change or not. Maybe I would like to have this one, you know. Just renew it or something." No way, friend! I can hardly wait for the new model to come out. Like Him. I"ll be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. Comes from beholding His face in righteousness. As we behold the glory of the Lord, we are being changed from glory to glory. "


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 17:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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