November 06 2022
Today, Sunday November 06
Examine and Vindicate Me
Psalm 17:1-5 – A Prayer of David
“Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip.”
This is one of five Psalms identified as "prayers" (Psalms 17, 86, 90, 102, 142). The title is also used in Habakkuk 3:1 and Psalm 72:20. Since most of the Psalms contain prayers to the Lord, we can only wonder why these five were singled out for this special title. Except for 90, written by Moses, they describe the writer in dangerous situations and crying out to God for deliverance. Only 17, 86, and 142 are attributed to David, and they were probably written during the years when Saul pursued him.
There are at least a dozen words for prayer in the Hebrew language, and this one (tepilla) can also mean "to intervene." Perhaps the title also told the temple musicians what melody to use when using these psalms in public worship.
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. “Hear a just cause, O LORD…” (v. 1); “I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God…” (v. 6); “Arise, O LORD…” (v. 13) In this prayer David is crying out to the Lord for Vindication (vv. 1-5), for Protection (vv. 6-12), and for Rescue or Deliverance (vv. 13-15).
In verses 1 through 5 David is asking the Lord for Vindication. “You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing”. The psalm begins and ends with David speaking of “a just cause” and "righteousness" (vv. 1 and 15), because David wants God to examine him and vindicate him before his enemies. He saw God as a righteous judge who would give him a fair trial.
King Saul and his leaders believed and circulated all kinds of lies about David, but the Lord and David knew the truth. David asked God to hear his plea, examine his life, and declare his integrity by giving him victory over the forces of Saul. Then everybody would know that God was with David, and that he was the man God has chosen to be Israel's king. God knew that David's prayer was sincere and that his life, though not sinless, was blameless. David was a man of integrity whose cause was a righteous one.
During those ten years of exile, God had proved David's heart, visited and examined him, and tested him the way gold and silver are tested and refined in the crucible ("tested by fire"). (See Psalms 26:2; 66:10; 81:7; 95:9; 139:23-24). Remember what Job said: “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). 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. In fact, on at least two occasions, David could have slain Saul, but he refused to lay hands on God's chosen and anointed leader (1 Sam. 24, 26). Saul would have killed David (v. 9, "deadly enemies"), but David obeyed the Word of the Lord and kept himself from violence.
Though he was a fugitive in the wilderness, David walked on the paths of the Lord and obeyed God's law. David's declaration of righteousness was not evidence of pride or hypocrisy but of faithfulness to the Lord in difficult situations. You find similar language in Psalm 18:19-28. David had a good conscience toward God.
My friend, when we have a good and clean conscience toward God and others, we can be assured that our prayers will be answered! “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:21-22)