Psalm 17 - When I Awake

INTRODUCTION: This Psalm of David contains similar expressions to those found in others written by him as he had various times in his life when he faced perils, but there is no internal evidence herein to know when this one was written. One of the more unique qualities of this Psalm is that David concluded with the firm conviction that he would see the LORD and be comforted after his life had ended, whereas those who unjustly sought to harm him had only the pleasures and the material possessions obtained during their lifetime with no hope for anything good after physical death.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the King James 21st Century Version.


A - DAVID BEGAN HIS PRAYER TO THE LORD

Psalm 17 "1 [A Prayer of David.] Hear the right, O LORD; attend unto my cry! Give ear unto my prayer, which goeth not out of feigned lips. 2 Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence; let Thine eyes behold things with equity. 3 Thou hast tested mine heart; Thou hast visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress."

COMMENTS: David opened his prayer crying out for attention to his request that he made from his right relationship with the LORD. David asked to be heard because he said there was no deceit in what would go out from his lips, and that phrasing likely meant that he was carefully praying audibly. David was keenly aware that the answer given by the LORD would come from the very presence of an omnipresent God, and therefore absolutely just and righteous. David knew that he had been already examined in his heart by the LORD, so the LORD knew that he had made it his purpose to follow after God by restraining himself from any sinful pattern in the words he spoke.


B - KEPT SEPARATE FROM THE PATHS OF THE DESTROYER

Psalm 17 "4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of Thy lips I have been kept from the paths of the destroyer. 5 Uphold my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. 6 I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God; incline Thine ear unto me and hear my speaking. 7 Show Thy marvelous lovingkindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them that put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them."

COMMENTS: David told the LORD in his prayer that he knew he had been kept from the works men do because he had put the Word of the LORD into his heart, which enabled him to remain out of the pathway of the one who destroys souls. This is a pattern worthy to be followed from the earliest point possible in any believer's life. Psalm 119 "9 [BETH] How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought Thee; O let me not wander from Thy commandments! 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." As David continued in his prayer he also asked that the LORD hold him on the pathway of righteousness to keep him from slipping off course in his life, which was a way of acknowledging that he could not do that in his strength alone. David said he had called upon the LORD with the faith that he would be heard, and therefore he said he would go on speaking his request. David's desire was to see the marvelous lovingkindness of the LORD through the power symbolized by the LORD's right hand. Those who have trusted the LORD would be saved from those who rise up against them.


C - KEEP ME IN YOUR PROTECTION

Psalm 17 "8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me under the shadow of Thy wings, 9 from the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies who compass me about. 10 They are enclosed in their own fat; with their mouth they speak proudly. 11 They have now encompassed us in our steps; they have set their eyes, bowing down to the earth, 12 like a lion that is greedy for his prey, even as a young lion lurking in secret places."

COMMENTS: Moses spoke to the elders of Israel as he was nearing the end of his life and he cautioned them about wandering away from the LORD who had such great affection toward them. Deuteronomy 32 "9 For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. 10 "He found him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye." David wanted to remain among those who from that early time had such a close relationship with the LORD to be called the apple of his eye. In another Psalm by David he also expressed the love of God with the metaphor of being under his wings. Psalm 36 "7 How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. 8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the bounty of Thy house, and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. 9 For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light. 10 O continue Thy lovingkindness unto them that know Thee, and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me." In both Psalm 17 and Psalm 36 it is evident that the ungodly are opposed to those who place their trust in the LORD, and sometimes that opposition is demonstrated in violent ways. This can lead even to the point of wicked men seeking after an opportunity to attack in much the same way as a lion would prowl to capture and kill the prey.


D - ARISE LORD TO DELIVER ME

Psalm 17 "13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint them! Cast them down; deliver my soul from the wicked by Thy sword, 14 from men which are Thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world that have their portion in this life, and whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasure: They are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes."

COMMENTS: David turned to the LORD to request that he take action for he knew that God has created all men, and it will be the sword of God that destroys those who have in reality rebelled against their maker. They will be disappointed when their physical life ends and they have no further portion from the LORD. Their satisfaction from material things with no desire for the things of God will end when they perish, and those things they had accumulated will only be a heritage left for their children. They failed to recognize that all good gifts come from the LORD, and all physical things in creation are the evidence of his presence and power. Another Psalm by David petitioned the LORD to arise and to let all people know that they are only part of mankind. Psalm 9 "19 Arise, O LORD, let not man prevail; let the heathen be judged in Thy sight. 20 Put them in fear, O LORD; that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah."


E - I WILL SEE YOUR FACE WHEN I AWAKE

Psalm 17 "15 As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness."

COMMENTS: As for David, he looked to the satisfaction he would have when all things of this world have passed away and he would awake with the righteousness given from God, from the sleep of physical death, to be in the presence of the LORD he loved. David had truth of scripture in his heart and knew he was created by God, and that the LORD had many dealings with his nation of Israel over many centuries. As the Spirit of God directed those who wrote Scripture before and during David's lifetime there was evidence of the hope after physical death for God's children of faith created in the image of God. Genesis 1 "27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them." Genesis 2 "7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Before God can be our Savior we must acknowledge that he is our Creator, and he has our life in his hands.

When there is a deep love for the LORD, the underlying hope is not based on conditions in the present life. Job served his LORD in many ways, but he became very discouraged through the overwhelming trials from Satan, and that struggle can be a challenge for any who have believed in the salvation of the LORD. Job 14 "10 But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, 12 so man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. 13 O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest keep me secret until Thy wrath be past; that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. 15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee; Thou wilt desire the work of Thine hands." Waiting through his trials was very difficult, and Job did not receive comfort from the three men who came to him, but he still had thoughts of final redemption in his heart. Job 19 "25 For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; 26 and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my heart be consumed within me."

Korah had rebelled against Moses and God in the wilderness, but his descendents showed their love for the LORD as they were first appointed for temple worship by King David when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem. Psalm 49 "15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah 16 Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased. 17 For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul (and men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself), 19 he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. 20 Man, though he is in honor but understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish." Asaph led worship during the reign of King David and the reign of King Solomon, and the following is from one of his Psalms. Psalm 73 "24 Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. 27 For lo, they that are far from Thee shall perish; Thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from Thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Thy works." These examples show that these writers of scripture had confidence that they would have a new life forever with God after their physical death.

The New Testament scriptures continue to present evidence of that sure hope of resurrection for all who will receive that truth into their hearts through faith in Christ. Jesus spoke to men who deny the resurrection. Matthew 22 "31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Paul wrote about the promise that is far superior to the pleasures of this life without God. Philippians 3 "18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even with weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, and their glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our abiding is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." Paul gave assurance regarding all who have died in Christ while return of the LORD is yet to come. 1 Thessalonians 4 "13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so will God bring with Him those also who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord: that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so shall we ever be with the Lord." The Apostle John encourages Christians to be thankful for the great love of our God and to continue to purify our lives here as we wait for the fulfillment of the hope we have in Christ. 1 John 3 "1 Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. 2 Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

As I consider comparison of my trials to those of David who often and beautifully expressed his love for you, LORD, I wonder why I have not praised you more as I recognize how the blessings you have provided far exceed my times of trial. Yet I know from your Word that your patience and love is without limits and your mercy endures forever. Like David, LORD, I ask that you direct my steps in life that I will remain on the path that is most pleasing to you, because I so easily stray through the manifold temptations of the world around me and of my own inclinations apart from your guidance. David knew that you search the heart of every person with none of their thoughts or actions hidden from you, and I often find myself living as though that is not reality in my life. LORD, When I pray for your help for myself or for others, I want to do so in a right relationship with you. Stimulate the desire in me to read and meditate on your Word frequently to keep me off of the paths of the destroyer of souls. I want to be among those who are the apple of your eye and to be sheltered under your wings for protection. There is no greater blessing than to know from your Word that when I awake from the sleep of physical death, I will be in your presence forever, my Creator and my Redeemer. Hallelujah and Amen!

Published 2 August 2014