Psalms 17

Psalm 17  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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Christ identifying Himself with the godly in Israel, in the maintenance of righteousness in the midst of evil.
Psalms 16 presents Christ as treading the path of life before God. Psalms 17 presents Christ as treading the path of righteousness in the presence of the temptations of the devil, and the deadly hostility of men. Psalms 16 is the inner life before God; here it is more the outer life before men. Only Christ trod this life in perfection, though others are associated with Him (see verse 7, “them,” and verse 11, “us”).
(vv. 1-3) The cry of God by One who can appeal to be heard on the ground of His perfect integrity. Only Christ could take such ground in an absolute way. His words came from unfeigned lips. Everything in Him was equal, or right, under the searching eye of God. His heart was proved, only to make manifest that His secret thoughts never went beyond His words. He did not say one thing and think another (JND).
(vv. 4-5) The men of this age, by their works, have fallen under the power of the devil, and receive their portion in this life. Christ walked in dependence upon God, and His Word, and thus was kept from the works of men, and the paths of the destroyer. The devil would have given Him all the kingdoms of this world if he could have moved the Lord from the path of dependence. Christ refused the portion in this life (vs. 14), to receive a better portion in resurrection (vs. 15).
(vv. 6-9) The perfectly upright One, because of His righteousness, finds many that rise up against Him. They are deadly enemies that would fain destroy Him (Luke 4:29; 6:11; 19:4729And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. (Luke 4:29)
11And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:11)
47And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, (Luke 19:47)
). Having refused the works of man and the temptations of the devil, and taken the path of dependence, Christ can look with confidence to God to intervene on behalf of Himself and the godly remnant associated with Him. The perfect integrity of His way gives perfect confidence in God, and the sense of His preciousness to God, so that He can say, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.”
(vv. 10-12) In contrast to the righteous One, verse 10 to 12 present the character of the men of this age that rise up against Christ and His own. They are marked by selfish luxury that makes them indifferent to the sorrows of others, and pride that exalts themselves. They watch the righteous One and those associated with Him in order to cast them down, and secretly plot their destruction (Mark 3:2626And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. (Mark 3:26); John 11:53; 12:1053Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. (John 11:53)
10But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; (John 12:10)
(vs. 13) An appeal to God to thwart the secret plots of the enemy; to judge the wicked, and deliver the righteous. The wicked are but the sword of God for the accomplishment of His government. It is easy then for the sword to be turned aside from the godly and used for the destruction of the wicked.
(vv. 14-15) The character of the wicked having been presented in verse 10 to 12, we learn now their portion in contrast with the portion of Christ, the righteous One. Men are described as of this world, or “age,” a word that signifies the transitory character of this world as belonging merely to time, and therefore passing away with the lust of the world. Their portion is in this life and in the natural things given by God. As for Christ, He not only had no portion here, but He refused to accept one either from the destroyer (Luke 4:5-85And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:5‑8)) or from man (John 6:1515When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. (John 6:15)). He could say in the language of Psalms 16:55The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. (Psalm 16:5), “The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance.” His portion is in the resurrection sphere—in the presence of God―as He can say, “I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Such is the glorious end of the path of righteousness.