Psalms 17



The Bible says in Psalms 17:1 says, “A prayer of David. Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips Psalms 17 begins by mentioning something that is very important: motivation or intent. It is not just what you do and what you say, but it is also why you do what you do.


The word “feigned” means false, or to lie. Did not Jesus say that not everyone that cries unto him, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of God, but he that does the will of the father. This verse explains the reason that many people go to a church hear a sermon, walk down the isle, and pray a prayer of salvation repeating words the preacher tells them to say, and then go on their way having never been saved from their sins. Their words and their prayer were with feigned lips.


 Psalms 17 is specifically talking about prayer. Prayer is talking to God. Talking to God involves asking him for things, but it involves much more than just asking Him to give you things. A person who prays to Jesus is a person who has a relationship with Jesus.  Have you ever heard someone say, “When I heard that person pray out loud I was impressed by the way it sounded.” But Jesus is not impressed by your public speaking ability. Jesus is listens to those whose words come from unfeigned lips. The most important thing to remember when you pray to Christ no matter what you are praying about is that you do so out of unfeigned lips, especially if that prayer is the prayer of First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


What could the reason be that man would so easily pray to God and his prayers would be words that goeth out of feigned lips? The answer to this question is explained for us in the very last verse of Psalms 17. Verse 15 says, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness


Sometimes God does not answer prayers. Sometimes God does not even listen. But you can be sure God will always listen to you if you pray to Him with the motivation of Psalms 17:15, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness


Psalms 17:2 says, “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.” Two important words in this verse are the words “sentence” and “equal.” The word “sentence” means judgment.  A judgment is a decree about something upon which a decision is made. If you want to make the right decisions in life regarding anything and everything that you do, that you seek after, and that happens to you, then you must look to Jesus. Certainly wisdom crieth in the streets. But practical wisdom is not enough. You must have the spiritual wisdom that comes from Jesus and His Word.  Now notice the word “equal.” The word “equal” means upright. There is a natural desire within men to be noticed, recognized for the things that they do. If you are going to get noticed and if you are going to get recognition make sure that it comes from God and that it is for doing what is right.  


If we pray to Jesus with the right motivation of being made into his likeness then we will also look to him for judgment and He will in turn look upon our lives. It is a wonderful thing to be noticed of God and to be noticed for doing the things which are right.


The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good, the Bible says. The word “equal” can also mean agreement. The things that are in agreement with God; the words, the deeds, and most importantly the hearts that are in agreement with God’s Word: this is where the eyes of God are most steadfastly beholding. “Let thine eyes behold the things that are equal The word “equal” comes from a root which carries with it the idea of peace and friendship. How can two walk together except they be agreed? The greatest inequality in the world, the greatest disagreement between God and man is, of course, regarding man and his own actions. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We humans have a problem not just with sinning but with repenting of our sins. Ever one is a sinner. The problem is that very few people ever repent and trust in Jesus. The judgments of God are more than equal, more than fair, and more than merciful. After all, He sent His only Son to die on the cross and to pay the debt for our sins. This is beyond fairness. When you read Psalms 17:2 make sure you think about these two words: “sentence” and “equal


Psalms 17:3 says, “Thou hast proved 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.” One thing that makes God so equal, or so fair, is the fact that He is omniscient. Unlike a human judge who is limited in what he might know or perceive, God knows everything and sees everything inside of a man. There is nothing hidden from God. This is just another reason why we can know that God is indeed equal in all He does.  In verse 3 it says God proves the heart. Even though our prayer should be that we do not have unfeigned lips, even though the right motivation should only be satisfied with His likeness, it is God who is going to prove our hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicket: who can know it?” Verse 10 in Jeremiah goes on to say, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins.” It is important that we search our own hearts, but it is more important to remember that Jesus is examining us as well and He sees us better than we do. He knows what is in our heart better than we do.  And this is why you must go to the Word of GOD because the Word of God is sharper than a two edged sword even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. This is the only way to not have feigned lips.


The next phrase in verse 3 says, “Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing.” The word tried here is a word that is primarily used in the Bible in reference to a goldsmith. Proverbs 17:3, “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” Not only does God examine the heart, but He is also the one that does the purifying. You can examine your own heart, and you can try all you want to purify yourself but in the end, your own heart is going to deceive you and you are going to find yourself unable to try yourself. Notice this verse in Psalms is all about what God is going to do. This is why the next part of verse 3 says, “I am purposed.” For God to turn you into gold you must be purposed. This word “purposed” is else translated “imagined or thought or devise.” In other words it has to do with the will. There must be: a willingness, an intent on the part of a man, a desire to be Christ-like.


 In the beginning when God made man, He formed him of the dust of the earth just like a potter will take clay of the earth and form a vessel. Is this not why God created man to shape Him into His Image? Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou; our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand  God is going to examine the heart and God is going to do the refining not man. However man must be willing. It is interesting that the word “purposed” is used to bring out this idea of a word that elsewhere in the King James Version is translated “imagine.” We often imagine all the wrong things. Sometimes we imagine that we are willing. And maybe we are willing to go to other side of the world and be missionary, willing to work in a big organization where great numbers listen to us speak. But often when it comes to the things that God is doing in our lives to refine us, we are not purposed, we are willing; and we fight Him, we resist him. If you want to accomplish great things for God, then you must be willing to let Him use the bad and the good in your life to refine you into His image. Jesus is the potter. He proves and He tries, and we must purpose to allow Him to do that.


Psalms 17:3 says, “Thou hast proved 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.” As we consider Psalms chapter 17 and verse 3 think of this verse and even this entire chapter as a description of how the will of God and the human will should be in cooperation. God created man in His image. God has a will. And God gave man a will. There is nothing more powerful than the will of God. But think about the human will and how powerful it can be. To use the word imagine, Imagine if the human will was purposed in all its power to do God’s will. What is God’s Will? That men repent of their sins and find forgiveness so that they can escape the fires of hell and have eternal life. That men trust in Him to improve as a person. Yet these are the very things that men use the power of their will to reset day after in life. Jesus is going to prove the heart. Jesus is going to try the heart. Hopefully you are purposed that you will not transgress.


Psalms 17:4, “Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” Verse 4 tells us very simply how we will succeed in being purposed: by the words of God. Without God’s Word you cannot have faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. And without God’s Word your faith will not grow. And without God’s Word it is impossible to continue following in the footsteps of Jesus with a purposed heart. A man’s faith can fail, and so can his will. God is going to do the trying and you must be purposed to not resist it. This will not happen if you do not follow the teaching of Jesus in which He said in Matthew 4:1, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God 


Psalms 17 verse 4 mentions the works of men and then it mentions the destroyer. The destroyer is a reference to Satan. Because Satan is the ultimate example of resistance to God’s Will. And Satan’s goal is to destroy everything that God does and creates and builds up. Of course, we know that it is Satan who is going to fail in the end but there is victory in Jesus. If you want the things that you do and your own person to be kept from the destroyer, if you want to keep your life from being wasted, there is only one way, through the Words of God.


Here in verse 4 this word “destroyer” tells us something very important. This word is only used in a few places in the Bible. It elsewhere is translated robber or ravenous. It means to steal and to murder. Remember Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning. Satan is called the destroyer because he wants to rob you of all the things that God is trying to give you: eternal life and forgiveness of sins, an inheritance incorruptible, and great crowns and riches for serving Jesus, the blessings of a loving friendship with the Savior, and the joy and ability to enjoy the good in this life. It is no wonder he is called the destroyer. The idea behind the word is that of a breaking or a rending. When a person seeks to rob someone, they are seeking to take something from that person by any means they can. This is why robbery and violence always go hand in hand. There is no such thing as honor among thieves. And Satan is the worst of them. He is the destroyer. His will is in opposition to the will of God. He cannot win and he knows he can’t and therefore he is roaming about like a lion seeking whom he may devour. When Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, the spiritual battle was over. In a sense the devil was defeated. The devil knows this, and that is why he is now on a vengeful spree roaming about seeking whom he may destroy. If you want to keep yourself from the paths of the destroyer, simply do just as it says here in verse 4 by the words of God. “Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer


Psalms 17:5-6 says, “Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.” To call upon God is to pray. Not only should you rely upon God’s Word, but you should also pray to Him. Both are equally important to keep you from the paths of the destroyer and to keep your footsteps from slipping. This word “slip” is elsewhere translated to cast or to move. It has the idea of mountains being shaken at their foundation. Psalms 62:6 says, “He only is my rock and my salvation. He is my defense I shall not be moved.”


Through the Word, through prayer, and through Jesus and Jesus only: you can survive all that life can throw at you. Nothing can destroy you, not even the destroyer, not even your own sins, not powers, not temptations, not sorrows, not even the greatest of sufferings and failures because instead of slipping you will have a rock by which you cannot be moved, and the end result will be all that the destroyer attempts to do will not destroy but will in the end result in you being satisfied by awaking in the likeness of Jesus.


Psalm 17:7, “Shew thy marvelous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them who put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.” Psalm 17 is basically a prayer, as are many of the Psalms. One of the best ways to learn how to pray and what to pray for, other than the teachings of Jesus, is to study the Psalms. Psalms 17 is about having the right motivation, that of seeking to be more Christ-like. God is going to try us and we should ask Him to do so. But also we should ask God for mercy and grace.  These words “marvelous lovingkindness” give for us a great amount of detail into the goodness of God. The word “marvelous” is not used many times in the Old Testament. It is a word that means “different or separate.” The Word is used in Exodus 11:7 which says, “the LORD doeth put a difference between the Egyptians and the children of Israel.”  Think of all the good that men can do to other men. The goodness of God, the loving kindness of God is much more marvelous than this.


The Words of Jesus explain this best in Matthew 7:7-11 when He said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”


Many people have heard these words, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find.” When Jesus was saying these words He was saying them in the same context as this verse in Psalms 17. Men should be asking and seeking after the marvelous loving-kindness of God. The things that God can and will do for men are so good and so different and so much better than the good that we can imagine. After all, while we were yet sinners and not even seeking after God, He sent His only Son to die for us.


Now look at the word “lovingkindness.” This word is a good translation because the idea is not just kindness but loving kindness. This word is used a lot in the Psalms and it can be translated mercy, goodness and zeal. Psalms 103:11 says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him


It is the devil that is the destroyer. But the Devil would twist things around and have you deceived into thinking it is the other way. In fact you will hear this philosophy a lot. It is one of the most rampant false ideas that is subtly put into much of what is found on your television. If you understand and know nothing about the Almighty, then at least know this, there is “marvelous lovingkindness” through Jesus. Simply ask, and ye shall receive.


The reason that we need marvelous loving kindness is because as verse 7 says of those that “rise up against.” The Devil was the first one to “rise up against”. He rose up against God and the will of God and all that is God. And he and all those that oppose God will rise up against anyone who turns to Jesus.


Consider carefully these last words in verse 7: “rise up against These are very strong words. The same words are used in Genesis 4:8, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” Interesting enough these words “to rise up against” are also used the completely opposite way. Genesis 6:18, “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons wives with thee.” God has made a covenant with man through His son Jesus Christ. Even while men were rising up against God, He sent His son Jesus to die for them. Do not be deceived by the destroyer and rise up against the marvelous loving kindness of the Savior. In the end it is not going to be how much you sin that matters, but how much you ask God to shew unto you His marvelous loving kindness. Because it is the marvelous loving kindness of God that will in the end both deliver you from those that “rise up against” and that will also result in you being conformed into the image of Christ.






Copyright; 2011 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved