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 17:11


They have now compassed us in our steps. The fury of the ungodly is aimed not at one believer alone, but at all the band; they have compassed us. All the race of the Jews were but a morsel for Haman’s hungry revenge, and all because of one Mordecai. The prince of darkness hates all the saints for their Master’s sake. The Lord Jesus is one of the us, and herein is our hope. He is the Breaker, and will clear a way for us through the hosts which environ us. The hatred of the powers of evil is continuous and energetic, for they watch every step, hoping that the time may come when they shall catch us by surprise. If our spiritual adversaries thus compass every step, how anxiously should we guard all our movements, lest by any means we should be betrayed into evil!

They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. Trapp wittily explains this metaphor by an allusion to a bull when about to run at his victim; he lowers his head, looks downward, and then concentrates all his force in the dash which he makes. It most probably denotes the malicious jealousy with which the enemy watches the steps of the righteous; as if they studied the ground on which they trod, and searched after some wrong footmark to accuse them for the past, or some stumbling stone to cast in their future path to trip them in days to come.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. A man who has people watching him to find out a cause for accusation against him to the king, or to great men, says, “Yes, they are around my legs and my feet; their eyes are always open; they are ever watching my suvadu, “steps;” that is, they are looking for the impress or footsteps in the earth. For this purpose the eyes of the enemies of David were “bowing down to the earth.” Joseph Roberts.

They have now compassed us in our steps. Like those who destroy game by battue, and so make a ring around their prey from which their victims cannot escape. C.H.S.

They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. The allusion probably is to the huntsman tracing the footmarks of the animal he pursues. Religious Tract Society’s Commentary.

They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. It is an allusion, as I conceive, to hunters, who go poring upon the ground to prick the hare, or to find the print of the hare’s claw, when the hounds are at a loss, and can make nothing of it by the scent. Joseph Caryl.
The Treasury of David.

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