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17. Psalm 17

1Hear the right, O Jehovah, attend unto my cry;

Give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

2Let my sentence come forth from thy presence;

Let thine eyes look upon equity.

3Thou hast proved my heart; thou hast visited me in the night;

Thou hast tried me, and findest nothing;

I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

4As for the works of men, by the word of thy lips

I have kept me from the ways of the violent.

5My steps have held fast to thy paths,

My feet have not slipped.

6I have called upon thee, for thou wilt answer me, O God:

Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

7Show thy marvellous lovingkindness,

O thou that savest by thy right hand them that take refuge in thee

From those that rise up against them.

8Keep me as the apple of the eye;

Hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

9From the wicked that oppress me,

My deadly enemies, that compass me about.

10They are inclosed in their own fat:

With their mouth they speak proudly.

11They have now compassed us in our steps;

They set their eyes to cast us down to the earth.

12He is like a lion that is greedy of his prey,

And as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

13Arise, O Jehovah,

Confront him, cast him down:

Deliver my soul from the wicked by thy sword;

14From men by thy hand, O Jehovah,

From men of the world, whose portion is in this life,

And whose belly thou fillest with thy treasure:

They are satisfied with children,

And leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

15As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness;

I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with beholding thy form.

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3. Thou hast proved my heart. Some are of opinion that in the three first verbs the past tense is put for the future. Others more correctly and more clearly resolve the words thus: If thou provest my heart, and visitest it by night, and examinest it thoroughly, there will not be found any deceit therein. But without making any change upon the words, they may be suitably enough explained in this way: Thou, Lord, who understandest all the secret affections and thoughts of my heart, even as it is thy peculiar prerogative to try men, knowest very well that I am not a double man, and do not cherish any deceit within. What David intended to express is certainly very evident. As he was unjustly and falsely charged with crime, and could obtain neither justice nor humanity at the hands of men, he appeals to God, requesting he would become judge in the matter. 346346     “Le requerant d’en vouloir estre le juge.” — Fr. But not to do this rashly, he subjects himself to an impartial examination, seeing God, whose prerogative it is to search the secret recesses of the heart, cannot be deceived by the external appearance. The time when he declares God to have visited him is during the night, because, when a man is withdrawn from the presence of his fellow-creatures, he sees more clearly his sins, which otherwise would be hidden from his view; just as, on the contrary, the sight of men affects us with shame, and this is, as it were, a veil before our eyes, which prevents us from deliberately examining our faults. It is, therefore, as if David had said, O Lord, since the darkness of the night discovers the conscience more fully, all coverings being then taken away, and since, at that season, the affections, either good or bad, according to men’s inclinations, manifest themselves more freely, when there is no person present to witness and pronounce judgment upon them; if thou then examinest me, there will be found neither disguise nor deceit in my heart. 347347     “Il ne sera trouve desguisement ne fraude quelconque en mon coeur.” — Fr. Hence we conclude how great was David’s integrity, seeing that, when purposely and leisurely taking account of his inmost thoughts, he presents himself so boldly, to be tried by the judgment of God. And he not only declares himself to be innocent of outward crimes, but also free from all secret malice. So far from cherishing malicious designs, while he covered them over with fair pretences, as his enemies alleged, he protests that his words were a frank and undisguised representation of what was passing in his heart: My thought shall not pass beyond my mouth. Our thought is said to pass beyond our mouth when, for the purpose of deceiving, the mind thinks differently from what the tongue expresses. 348348     This is the sense put upon this last clause by the learned Castellio, who translates it thus:- “Non deprehendes me aliud in pectore, aliud in ore habere.” “Thou shalt not find me to have one thing in my breast and another in my mouth.” The word זמה, zimmah, which we have translated simply thought, may also be taken in a bad sense for deceitful and malicious devices.