A Complicated Guy (Psalm 17)

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

17 Listen to what’s right, Lord;
    pay attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer;
    it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie!
My justice comes from you;
    let your eyes see what is right!
You have examined my heart,
    testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely,
    but haven’t found anything wrong.
    My mouth doesn’t sin.
But these other people’s deeds?
    I have avoided such violent ways
    by the command from your lips.
My steps are set firmly on your paths;
    my feet haven’t slipped.

I cry out to you because you answer me.
    So tilt your ears toward me now—
    listen to what I’m saying!
Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways
    because you are the one
    who saves those who take refuge in you,
    saving them from their attackers
    by your strong hand.
Watch me with the very pupil of your eye!
    Hide me in the protection of your wings,
        away from the wicked
            who are out to get me,
        away from my deadly enemies
            who are all around me!
10 They have no pity;
    their mouths speak arrogantly.
11 They track me down—
    suddenly, they surround me!
    They make their plans to put me in the dirt.
12 They are like a lion eager to rip its prey;
    they are like a strong young lion lying in wait.

13 Get up, Lord!
    Confront them!
    Bring them down!
Rescue my life from the wicked—
    use your sword!
14 Rescue me from these people—
    use your own hands, Lord!
Rescue me from these people
    whose only possession is their fleeting life.
But fill the stomachs of your cherished ones;
    let their children be filled full
    so that they have leftovers enough for their babies.

15 But me? I will see your face in righteousness;
    when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image (Psalm 17:1-15, Common English Bible)

Yesterday I said during my sermon that I liked the Naaman story because I can imagine it playing out in my mind. I can see Naaman getting to Elisha’s house and becoming angry because Elisha refused to come out. I can see him becoming frustrated as he bathed in the Jordan the first six times and nothing seemed to change. I can see the excitement he would have when he comes up the seventh time (as I tell it, the body clean of leprosy was the discovery of his men). I can see that whole story unfold.

Stories about David are different. First, I can’t imagine being king of anything. That might be the result of growing up in a country that is not a monarchy but the truth of the matter is, I have no desire to be President either. All it takes for me is to see a picture of a president, ANY president and compare pictures of when they went into office and when they left office and I am convinced it is not the job I would want.

I once did have political aspirations. When I did, my highest interest was to be a senator. If I lost my mind and decided to do that now, please have me committed.

When I read Psalm 17, I see a pretty complicated guy in the psalmist. According the the credit at the top of the psalm, we are told the psalmist is King David. For our purposes today we will assume that is the case.

He definitely knows he is the guy in charge. Read the way he talks to God in this prayer. “Listen to what’s right Lord. Pay attention to my cry.”

We don’t know if, when Psalm 17 was written if David was king or not. We can quickly see language that would make us see him as a king.

Though I don’t really have much to base it on, I think David wrote this psalm after his encounter with Goliath and probably during the time before David ascended to the throne and Saul was out to kill him. I am not sure how I have come to that conclusion but that is what I think. I do know I arrived at the conclusion that Saul is still king because that would have been a time when enemies were after him. But, then again, it could have happened when his son Absalom was attempting to take David’s throne for himself.

As I read this psalm, this idea of a complicated man came pretty early on in the reading. David says he has avoided violent ways (v. 4). I almost wanted to laugh, particularly as I continued to read. David, the guy who planted a stone in the forehead of an opponent. David, the guy who would send a man to his death on the front lines of battle. David, the guy that made his king who the crowds would sing chants about him killing his thousands. David who might not show violence here himself, but he sure wants God to commit violence on his behalf, “Use your sword!” (v. 13).

I too like to think of myself as a non-violent guy. I do have a temper. There is no doubt of that, but my temper has not turned violent. Still, if I am honest, under the right set of circumstances, I feel pretty certain violence could be the result. And that friends, is where it could get complicated for any of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,

copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for the non-commercial use of this post.


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