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Psalm 17

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecutors

A Prayer of David.


Hear a just cause, O L ord; attend to my cry;

give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.


From you let my vindication come;

let your eyes see the right.



If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,

if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;

my mouth does not transgress.


As for what others do, by the word of your lips

I have avoided the ways of the violent.


My steps have held fast to your paths;

my feet have not slipped.



I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;

incline your ear to me, hear my words.


Wondrously show your steadfast love,

O savior of those who seek refuge

from their adversaries at your right hand.



Guard me as the apple of the eye;

hide me in the shadow of your wings,


from the wicked who despoil me,

my deadly enemies who surround me.


They close their hearts to pity;

with their mouths they speak arrogantly.


They track me down; now they surround me;

they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.


They are like a lion eager to tear,

like a young lion lurking in ambush.



Rise up, O L ord, confront them, overthrow them!

By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,


from mortals—by your hand, O L ord

from mortals whose portion in life is in this world.

May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them;

may their children have more than enough;

may they leave something over to their little ones.



As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;

when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

11. They have now compassed me round about in our steps. The Psalmist confirms what he has said before concerning the furious passion for doing mischief with which his enemies were inflamed. He says they were so cruelly bent on accomplishing his destruction, that in whatever way he directed or altered his course, they ceased not to follow close upon him. When he says our steps, he doubtless comprehends his own companions, although he immediately after returns to speak of himself alone; unless, perhaps, another reading is preferred, for some copies have סבבונו, sebabunu, They have compassed us, in the plural number. This, however, is not a matter of great importance. David simply complains, that unless God stretch forth his hand from heaven to deliver him, there now remains for him no way of escape, seeing his enemies, whenever he stirs his foot to avoid their fury, immediately pursue him, and watch all his steps. By the adverb now, he intimates not only that he is at present in very great danger, but also that at every moment his enemies, in whatever way he turns himself, pursue and press hard upon him. In the last clause, They have fixed their eyes to cast down to the ground, some consider David as comparing his enemies to hunters, who, with eyes fixed on the ground, are silently looking with eager desire for their prey. They, therefore, think that by the eyes fixed on the ground is denoted the gesture or attitude of David’s adversaries, and certainly crafty and malicious men have their countenance often fixed on the ground. According to others, whose opinion is nearer the spirit of the passage, this form of expression signifies the continual and unwearied ardor by which the ungodly are impelled to turn all things upside down. To fix their eyes, therefore, is nothing else than to apply all their ingenuity, and put forth all their efforts. What follows, to cast down to the ground, is the same thing as to overthrow. The ungodly, as if they must necessarily fall, should the world continue to stand, would wish all mankind thrown down or destroyed, and, therefore, they exert themselves to the utmost to bring down and ruin all men. This is explained more fully by the figurative illustration introduced in the following verse, where they are said to be like lions and lions’ whelps 367367     In the French version it is lionceaux, young lions. French and Skinner read “like a lion,” and “like a young lion;’ and observe, “The word translated ‘young lion’ signifies a lion in the rigour of youth, and fully capable of pursuing his prey.” But we ought always to keep this truth in remembrance, that the more proudly wicked men exercise their cruelty against us, the hand of God is so much the nearer to us to oppose itself to their savage fury; for to him alone belongs the praise of subduing and restraining these wild beasts who delight in shedding blood. David speaks of dens, or secret lurking places, because his enemies were deeply skilled in artful stratagem, and had various methods of doing mischief, while they had also at hand the power and means of executing them, so that it was difficult to resist them.

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