Psalm 17:1-7

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
    give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
    let your eyes see the right.

If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
    if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
    my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
    I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
    my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
    O savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Reflection – Donna Fitch

David, in this scripture, is pleading for God to vindicate him against his enemies because he is blameless. Asbury Bible Commentary says that “pleas for deliverance are the most numerous single song type, dominating the first two books of the Psalter (forty-two percent of the opening seventy-two psalms).” In the ancient Near East, according to NRSV Cultural Background Study Bible, people commonly experienced legal difficulties. The personal library of a family in Babylon was found to have texts describing not only the theft of farming equipment but a prayer “that the god Nabu might judge his case fairly and give a favorable outcome.” People in that day were familiar with the concept of vindication.

A couple of items to note about this scripture:

1 – David is confident God will vindicate him. He makes his case to God, whom he acknowledges knows that he has done no wrong in this situation. He is bold and doesn’t use false modesty. I’m not sure I could ever be that bold in a prayer, confident enough to say that I prayed “from lips free of deceit.” In dealing with Saul in 1 Samuel 24:15, David says, “May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”

2 – David doesn’t suggest any punishment for those who transgressed against him but trusts that God will “see the right.” He hasn’t taken matters into his own hands: “I have avoided the ways of the violent.” I am tempted when I feel I’ve been wronged to deal with it myself—usually in a passive-aggressive way–rather than leaving it to God.

A Little Prayer

Lord, help me to pray as David did, confidently and boldly, leaving you to vindicate me against my enemies rather than taking matters into my own hands. Amen.