Psalms of Honesty and Truth
We pray on the run. We pray long and hard. We pray quickly. We pray as one wishing and hoping but not really expecting an answer. We are surprised when the answer comes! What? We corporately pray words written out for us. We “practice” pray as one getting ready for the Olympics of praying. Sometimes we pray with a little sermon thrown in for the “sinners” who need to listen who are in earshot of our prayers.
Some of us, when by ourselves, alone with only God, talk to God out loud as we try to figure out what is going on in our lives at the moment. Talking it out for some of us brings clarity somehow, we think. But do we take time to listen? Do we ask God to examine our hearts as we pray, making sure the motivations of our hearts are pure and holy? Do we ask for God’s rescue instead strength for our tiny efforts to solve problems ourselves? Do we go to God with injustices or try to ask God for wisdom to solve it ourselves? Are we so full of ourselves that we think God cannot handle what is going on in our lives at any given moment? How much time do we give God to answer? What is the measure of our faith? How assured are we of answers from God?
In this prayer, David deals with three pressing concerns and makes three major requests to the Lord. Each section opens with David addressing the Lord.
Psalm 17, The Message
A David Prayer
1-2 Listen while I build my case, God,
the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear.
Show the world I’m innocent—
in your heart you know I am.
3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
surprise me in the middle of the night—
You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.
My words don’t run loose.
4-5 I’m not trying to get my way
in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way,
your Word’s way.
I’m staying on your trail;
I’m putting one foot
In front of the other.
I’m not giving up.
6-7 I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.
So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
straight to you.
8-9 Keep your eye on me;
hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,
from mortal enemies closing in.
10-14 Their hearts are hard as nails,
their mouths blast hot air.
They are after me, nipping my heels,
determined to bring me down,
Lions ready to rip me apart,
young lions poised to pounce.
Up, God: beard them! break them!
By your sword, free me from their clutches;
Barehanded, God, break these mortals,
these flat-earth people who can’t think beyond today.
I’d like to see their bellies
swollen with famine food,
The weeds they’ve sown
harvested and baked into famine bread,
With second helpings for their children
and crusts for their babies to chew on.
15 And me? I plan on looking
you full in the face. When I get up,
I’ll see your full stature
and live heaven on earth.
David’s three, honest, pressing concerns motivate passionate requests expressed to God:
1. Vindication: Examine Me!
No matter what Saul and his men had said about him, David was able to affirm to the Lord that he had not spoken evil of the king. David’s declaration of righteousness was not evidence of pride or hypocrisy but of faithfulness to the Lord in difficult situations.
2. Protection–“Keep Your Eye on Me”
David knew that God was not only the Righteous Judge, but He was also the powerful defender who could shelter David and his men from the enemy. David prays EXPECTING an answer!
3. Salvation–“Rescue Me”
He makes suggestions to God, knowing God is able but leaves the battle to the Lord. David now sees the Lord as his gracious Redeemer, rescuing him and his men from the wicked hands of Saul. These verses contrast the “people of this world” to the “people of God” who live for that which is eternal.
Verse 15 is pivotal and important! Warren Wiersby writes; “This last verse describes David’s glorious future: seeing God’s face and sharing God’s likeness. This is one of the few texts in the Psalms that touches on the future life.”
“Awake” is a metaphor for the resurrection of the human body. David seems to be saying, “Even when I die, the Lord won’t desert me; for I shall be awakened and given a glorified body. I shall see His face, and I shall be satisfied!”
As we pray, then, let us look up, look full into the face of God, expecting that He will hear and WILL indeed answer our cries for help, our requests for others’ salvation, our own needs for protection, vindication, salvation and provision in HIS way and in HIS time. For His ways are perfect. He never sleeps and is always at work for those who love and honor Him. Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow!
In Jesus Name, Amen