Sunday Psalms 17 - a prayer for justice

Psalm 17: A Prayerful Plea for Rescue and Justice from the Innocent

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? I have and it’s a terrible thing, especially as an adult. In this Psalm, which is really a prayer of David, He pleads for justice. It’s a justice that can only be found through a fair and just God. Let’s dig in…

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
    listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—
    it does not rise from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from you;
    may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart,
    though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
    my mouth has not transgressed.
Though people tried to bribe me,
    I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
    through what your lips have commanded.
My steps have held to your paths;
    my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

10 They close up their callous hearts,
    and their mouths speak with arrogance.
11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,
    with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.
12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,
    like a fierce lion crouching in cover.

13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
    with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord,
    from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
    may their children gorge themselves on it,
    and may there be leftovers for their little ones.

15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
    when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

Psalm 17 NIV

Digging Deeper

  • Justice — I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this world is not fair. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Jesus warned us about that…”Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NLT)
  • God hears all of our fervent prayers. Furthermore, He answers them all. Clearly, the answer may not be what we want to hear. It could be “Yes, no, or not now.” Moreover, as James wrote, “…you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” (James 4:2b-3 NLT) Pray to God with the right motives and in Jesus’ name and you’ll have a peace that surpasses all understanding! Paul wrote, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
  • God sees us and everything that we do — good or bad. Here David proclaims that God knows that he’s done nothing wrong. He’s followed all of God’s commandments and the path that God laid out for him. We need to ask God to light our path, to make it clear what His will is for our lives. If we sincerely want to follow Jesus — and not a church or some false prophet, He will lead us in the right direction. However, it’s up to us to follow HIM.
  • He is our refuge. He’s available for us 24/7. No matter where we are, we can pray to Him and He will hear us. John wrote, “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” (1 John 5:14-15 NLT)
  • If you’ve ever wondered where the phrase “the apple of my eye” came from, here it is! It’s a term of endearment. A parent looks upon his or her child as “the apple of their eye”. Here David asks God to keep him as the apple of His eye. Think about it. Here in Arizona, we get frequent dust storms. If you find yourself outside during one, the first thing you do is protect your eyes from flying dust particles.
  • David ends his prayer with the desire to be vindicated, to see God’s face and to see His likeness. As a born-again Christians, Jesus’ sacrifice makes us vindicated. With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we see God’s face shining on us, we get to know God, and we become like Him.

Again I turn to Spoken Gospel for better insight…

But David makes an important distinction between himself and the wicked. He says that the wicked’s portion is in this life (Psalm 17:14). They are satisfied with the meager benefits this world can offer—benefits that will be gone when they die (Psalm 17:14c).  

David, on the other hand, has a more glorious portion waiting for him. He will behold the face of God (Psalm 17:15a). He will look at the perfect character, righteousness, and justice of God and his likeness will bring perfect satisfaction (Psalm 17:15b). 

This is what David hopes to see when he awakes. He looks forward to a day beyond the grave, when he will be resurrected into the presence of God. 

Where is the Gospel?

Christians today are also saved by our innocence. However, this innocence doesn’t come from us; it comes from Jesus. Jesus, far more so than David, was truly innocent before God in every way—in his heart, lips, and actions. What was true of David’s innocence in this one instance, is true of Jesus eternally. 

But when wicked men sought to devour him like a lion, Jesus did not appeal to his own innocence so that God would rescue him (Matthew 26:53). Unlike David, Jesus didn’t even defend his own innocence when questioned by those who were sending him to death (Matthew 27:12). Instead, innocent Jesus was called guilty so that we who are guilty can be called innocent (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

When we call out to God and trust that Jesus’ innocence is available to us, we will not only be saved from our enemies (like David), but we will also see God’s face (Revelation 22:4). 

Spoken Gospel

Call for Justice

As long as Satan is the prince of this world — and that’s the way it will be until Jesus comes back in His Glory — there will be trials, troubles, and tribulations. Even after the church — His born-again believers — are raptured, the Tribulation Saints will suffer under the hands of the enemy. We see that in Revelation 6 when Jesus breaks open the 5th seal…

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. 10 They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them.

Revelation 6:9-11 NLT

Our fervent prayers are precious to God. We see that in Revelation 8 just prior to the trumpet judgements…

Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Revelation 8:3-4 NLT

How to Pray Psalm 17

Take the Psalm, in whatever version you have, and write out your prayer in your own words. Here is my sample from the NLT version.

O Lord, hear my plea for justice for the innocent. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips. Declare me innocent, for you see those who do right.

You know my thoughts and examined my heart. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say.  I have followed your commands, which keep me from following the wicked and evil people of this world. My steps stay on your path and I have not wavered from following you.

I pray to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Protect me from wicked people who attack me. And I pray this also for all my Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted solely for following and worshiping you.

Arise, O Lord! Stand against them, and bring them to their knees! Rescue innocent Christians from the wicked with your sword! By the power of your hand, O Lord, destroy those who look to this world for their reward.

Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

Paraphrase on Psalm 17 NLT by Giselle Aguiar

Are you confident in your prayers?

Or do you just rattle off the prayers of the rosary which have no meaning? Are you following Jesus only or are you still enslaved by a man-made religion? Are you confident of where you will spend eternity? There are only two clear choices — Heaven or hell. Consequently, the choice is yours to make while you’re still alive and coherent.

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

I’m Going Free


One Thing Remains


Jesus Paid It All


Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be The Glory!

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