The Treasury of David

Psalm 17

Title And Subject.

A prayer of David. David would not have been a man after God’s own heart, if he had not been a man of prayer. He was a master in the sacred art of supplication. He flies to prayer in all times of need, as a pilot speeds to the harbour in the stress of tempest. So frequent were David’s prayers that they could not be all dated and entitled; and hence this simply bears the author’s name, and nothing more. The smell of the furnace is upon the present psalm, but there is evidence in the last verse that he who wrote it came unharmed out of the flame. We have in the present plaintive song, An Appeal To Heaven from the persecutions of earth. A spiritual eye may see Jesus here.

Divisions. There are no very clear lines of demarcation between the parts; but we prefer the division adopted by that precious old commentator, David Dickson. In Psalms 17:1-4, David craves justice in the controversy between him and his oppressors. In Psalms 17:5-6, he requests of the Lord grace to act rightly while under the trial. From Psalms 17:7-12, he seeks protection from his foes, whom he graphically describes; and in Psalms 17:13-14, pleads that they may be disappointed; closing the whole in the most comfortable confidence that all would certainly be well with himself at the last.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 17:6


I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God. Thou hast always heard me, O my Lord, and therefore I have the utmost confidence in again approaching thine altar. Experience is a blessed teacher. He who has tried the faithfulness of God in hours of need, has great boldness in laying his case before the throne. The well of Bethlehem, from which we drew such cooling draughts in years gone by, our souls long for still; nor will we leave it for the broken cisterns of earth.

Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Stoop out of heaven and put thine ear to my mouth; give me thine ear all to myself, as men do when they lean over to catch every word from their friend. The Psalmist here comes back to his first prayer, and thus sets us an example of pressing our suit again and again, until we have a full assurance that we have succeeded.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me. I have cried, says the Psalmist, because thou hast heard me. One would think he should have said contrariwise; thou hast heard me because I have cried; yet, he says, I have cried because thou hast heard me; to show that crying doth not always go before hearing with God, as it doth with us; but that God will not only hear our cry, but also hear us before we cry, and will help us. T. Playfere.

I have called upon thee, etc. Prayer is the best remedy in a calamity. This is indeed a true catholicon, a general remedy for every malady. Not like the empiric’s catholicon, which sometimes may work, but for the most part fails, but that which upon assured evidence and constant experience hath its probatum est; being that which the most wise, learned, honest, and skilful Physician that ever was, or can be, hath prescribed, even he that teacheth us how to bear what is to be borne, or how to heal and help what hath been borne. William Gough, 1575-1653.

I have called upon thee formerly, therefore, Lord, hear me now. It will be a great comfort to us if trouble, when it comes, finds the wheels of prayer going, for then may we come with the more boldness to the throne of grace. Tradesmen are willing to oblige those that have been long their customers.

Matthew Henry.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Two words, both great, though little, call and hear. Two persons, one little and the other great, “I”, “Thee, O God”. Two tenses: past, “I have; “future, “Thou wilt.” Two wonders, that we do not call more, and that God hears such unworthy prayers.
The Treasury of David.

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