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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.

13. Arise, O Jehovah. The more furiously David was persecuted by his enemies, he beseeches God the more earnestly to afford him immediate aid; for he uses the word face to denote the swift impetuosity of his adversary, to repress which there was need of the greatest haste. By these words, the Holy Spirit teaches us, that when death shows itself to be just at hand, God is provided with remedies perfectly prepared, by which he can effect our deliverance in a moment. The Psalmist not only attributes to God the office of delivering his people; he at the same time arms him with power to crush and break in pieces the wicked. He does not, however, wish them to be cast down farther than was necessary to their being humbled, that they might cease from their outrageous and injurious conduct towards him, as we may gather from the following clause, where he again beseeches God to deliver his soul David would have been contented to see them continuing in the possession of their outward ease and prosperity, had they not abused their power by practising injustice and cruelty. Let us know then, that God consults the good of his people when he overthrows the ungodly, and breaks their strength; when he does this, it is for the purpose of delivering from destruction the poor innocents who are molested by these wretched men. 370370     “Qui sont molestez par ces malheureux.” — Fr. Some expositors read the passage thus, From the ungodly man, who is thy sword, 371371     “It may be questioned whether David, in this or the next clause, intended to represent wicked men as the sword and the hand of God; that is, the instruments which he employed to correct his servants; or whether his meaning was to pray that God would interpose his own hand and sword to defend him and punish his enemies. The latter sense is adopted by some interpreters; but as the former is a perfectly Scriptural sentiment, and requires the supposition of no ellipsis, it appears to me to be most likely what is intended. Vide Isaiah 10:5.” — Walford. Many of the most eminent critics, however, adopt the translation which Calvin has given, as Hammond, Houbigant, Ainsworth, Bishops Lowth, Horsley, Home, and Hare, Dr Boothroyd, Dr Adam Clarke, Dathe, and Venema. The reading in Tyndale’s Bible is, “Deliver my soul with thy sword from the ungodly.” and also, From the men who are thy hand; but this does not seem to me to be a proper translation. I admit, that from whatever quarter afflictions come to us, it is the hand of God which chastises us, and that the ungodly are the scourges he employs for this purpose; and farther, that this consideration is very well fitted to lead us to exercise patience. But as this manner of speaking would here be somewhat harsh, and, at the same time, not very consistent with the prayer, I prefer adopting the exposition which represents David’s words as a prayer that God would deliver him by his sword, and smite with his hand those men who, for too long a time, had been in possession of power and prosperity. He contrasts God’s sword with human aids and human means of relief; and the import of his words is, If God himself does not come forth to take vengeance, and draw his sword, there remains for me no hope of deliverance.

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