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.
From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about. The foes from whom David sought to be rescued were wicked men. It is hopeful for us when our enemies are God’s enemies. They were deadly enemies, whom nothing but his death would satisfy. The foes of a believer’s soul are mortal foes most emphatically, for they who war against our faith aim at the very life of our life. Deadly sins are deadly enemies, and what sin is there which hath not death in its bowels? These foes oppressed David, they laid his spirit waste, as invading armies ravage a country, or as wild beasts desolate a land. He likens himself to a besieged city, and complains that his foes compass him about. It may well quicken our business upward, when all around us, every road, is blockaded by deadly foes. This is our daily position, for all around us dangers and sins are lurking. O God, do thou protect us from them all.
From the wicked: as though he had said, “They are equally enemies to thee and me; not more opposite to me by their cruelty, than by their wickedness they are to thee. Vindicate then, at once, thyself, and deliver me.” John Howe.
The Treasury of David.
They are inclosed in their own fat. Luxury and gluttony beget vainglorious fatness of heart, which shuts up its gates against all compassionate emotions and reasonable judgments. The old proverb says that full bellies make empty skulls, and it is yet more true that they frequently make empty hearts. The rankest weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Riches and self indulgence are the fuel upon which some sins feed their flames. Pride and fulness of bread were Sodom’s twin sins. (Ezekiel 16:49.) Fed hawks forget their masters; and the moon at its fullest is furthest from the sun. Eglon was a notable instance that a well fed corporation is no security to life, when a sharp message comes from God, addressed to the inward vitals of the body.
With their mouth they speak proudly. He who adores himself, will have no heart to adore the Lord. Full of selfish pleasure within his heart, the wicked man fills his mouth with boastful and arrogant expressions. Prosperity and vanity often lodge together. Woe to the fed ox when it bellows at its owner, the poleax is not far off.
They are inclosed in their own fat, or their fat has inclosed them; either their eyes, that they can hardly see out of them, or their hearts, so that they are stupid and senseless, and devoid of the fear of God; the phrase is expressive of the multitude of their wealth, and increase of power, by which they were swelled with pride and vanity, and neither feared God nor regarded man; so the Targum paraphrases it, “their riches are multiplied, their fat covers them.” John Gill.
They are inclosed in their own fat. Their worldly prosperity puffeth them up, and makes them insensible and obdurate against all reason and just fear; and the Scripture doth use this term of a fattened heart in this sense, because that the fat of man hath no feeling in it, and those that are very fat are less subject to the passion of fear. John Diodati.
They are inclosed in their own fat. To say a man is fat, often means he is very proud. Of one who speaks pompously it is said, “What can we do?” tassi kullap inal, that is, “from the fat of his flesh he declares himself.” “Oh, the fat of his mouth! how largely he talks!” “Take care, fellow! or I will restrain the fat of thy mouth.” J. Roberts, in “Oriental Illustrations, “1844.
The Treasury of David.
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