# 85 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 17 The apple of His eye

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This psalm is simply what it says it is at the very beginning, “A prayer of David”. Pure and simply David talking intimately to God about the dire circumstances of his life and asking God to intervene. We aren’t told when these particular circumstances took place, but having read the story of David’s life, possibility it could have been the events of 1 Samuel 23:7-29 when David, for no good reason other than Saul’s jealousy, was being pursued by King Saul. We read there that,

 

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life…

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us… 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information…and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

 

And so, David’s prayer in Psalm 17.

 

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.

 

As Longman says, “This psalm can…provide a model prayer for any who suffer for no apparent cause, particularly for those being harassed or persecuted by others.” (see references # 30)

 

The thing most obvious about this conversation between David and his Lord is the intimacy between them. Consider the following words:

 

Keep me as the apple of your eye;     hide me in the shadow of your wings.

 

Moore’s comment on the use of these metaphors is  “he asks the Lord to protect him “as the apple of your eye”. It means the pupil of the eye, one of the most delicate and precious parts of the human body, and it is the phrase which the Lord used when he promised in the psalm which is recorded in Deuteronomy 32:10 to protect his people “as the apple of his eye.”  He continues, “David uses another unusual metaphor when he asks the Lord to “hide me in the shadow of your wings”, but if we read into the next verse we discover this is an allusion to Deuteronomy 32:11, where the Lord promises to protect his people “like an eagle…that spreads its wings.”  He then says, “David is modelling for us how to bring the promises of Psalms back to God in prayer. Psalms isn’t just a great book of worship songs. It is also our manual for prayer.”   (see references # 36)

 

Father, what a wonderful truth that we can talk to you about anything in our lives or in the lives of others. What a great privilege is prayer, not only for ourselves but to be able to intercede for the needs of others, wherever they might be in the world, whatever their circumstances. And our confidence is in you when we “call on you, [our] God, for you will answer [us]; turn your ear to [us] and hear [our] prayer. [For you will] Show [us] the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.”

# 84 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 16 “The resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity.”

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“The resurrection of Jesus Christ separates Christianity from all other religions. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:14) Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” Paul could not have chosen stronger language.”   (www.studymode.com/essays/The-Cornerstone-Of-Christian-Faith)

 

And, by the inspiration of God, David celebrated this truth centuries before the event. In Psalm 16:10 he says:

 

“…you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)

 

This verse is quoted in the NT and it is interpreted by the writers of the NT as a prophetic word concerning the resurrection of Jesus. In Acts 2 Peter is preaching to the crowd and he says:

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 3Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

As we continue reading in the book of Acts we then come across Paul and his companions in “Pisidian Antioch [where]…on the Sabbath they entered the synagogue” and preached the good news of Jesus the Messiah. He spoke of Jesus’ death and that “they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead…

32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus

34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay… As God has said…

“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’  [Psalm 16]

36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin…”     (Acts 13)

I think that sometimes as 21st Century Christians we easily forget the vital importance of the resurrection in relation to the Good News we preach. But if Paul spent the whole of 1 Corinthians 15 (58 verses!) on this one particular subject, then it seems to me we should make it more of a priority in our preaching. As he says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. BUT Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…death has been swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 19, 20, 54, 57)

Let me conclude with the summary of this psalm in the words of Tremper Longman, who says, “The Psalmist is aware that he needs God in order to be safe in this world, so he calls out to him to keep him safe. The rest of the poem expresses his deeply felt confidence in God’s good gifts and ability to provide the security that he needs. At the end, he asserts God’s ability to keep him safe even from death itself…a voice that expresses hope in life after death…this text provides an Old Testament background to the belief in the afterlife that comes to full blossom in the New Testament with its teaching on bodily resurrection.” (see references # 30)

Thank you our Father for the hope that is ours in Christ. Hope not only in this life but for all eternity. Teach us then to live well, to “stand firm, [to] let nothing move [us]. Always [to] give [ourselves] fully to the work of the Lord, because [we] know that [our] labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)  Amen