Psalm 17 - An Innocent's Prayer and Request for Justice




[New International Version] Psalm 17 belongs to Book I of the Book of Psalms and speaks of the hope of the righteous to find eternal salvation with God. By following the teachings, the Psalmist expects true happiness with the promise of eternal life.

The PS 17 belong to Book I of the Book of PS composed of a collection of texts 150 arranged by 5 poetry books. The Book of Psalms, for its wisdom and basic principles of human action , is considered the heart of the Old Testament. Book I encompasses Psalms 1 to 41 . The PS 17 is divided into 15 verses.

The Psalms are poems-prayers addressed to God, being the privileged way to address and speak to Him. These prayers represent human experiences and religious conscience . They portray the common man , with his faults, insecurities, fears and hopes and, even today, we can identify with the Psalmist and draw inspiration from these texts to pray and plead with God when we feel lost and anguished or to express our gratitude for some blessing received.

“There are enemies or friends, there is life or death, health or illness, pain or joy and, most of the time, there are no changes or gradations. Words are like stones and poetry like boulders carved by chisel”; “The Psalms are a bit like mountain paths, simple, especially when walking on snow, but they lead to the peaks; they are paths toward the peaks of meeting the Lord.” - Carlo Maria Martini, Cardinal of Milan

Psalm 17 - Prayer of an Innocent

1  Prayer. From David.

Hear, Lord, the request for justice,
answer my cry;

give heed to my prayer,
which is not from lying lips.

2  Let my sentence come from you;
let your eyes see what is right.

3  Examine my heart, inspect it by night;
put me to the test by fire and you will not see any evil in me.

4  My mouth did not commit:
the transgressions proper to human beings.
I remained faithful to the words of your mouth.

5  By the paths of violence make my steps firm;
may my feet not falter in your ways.

6  I invoke you; answer me, please, O God!
Tilt your ear to me. Listen to my words.

7  With one of your wonders of faithfulness,
save those who take refuge at your right hand from the aggressors.

8  Guard me as the pupil of your eyes,
hide me in the shadow of your wings,

9  far from the evildoers who assail me,
from the mortal enemies who beset me.

10  Fat has closed their hearts
and their mouths speak with arrogance.

11  Now they follow my steps and surround me;
they fix their eyes on me to throw me to the ground.

12  They are like a lion waiting for its prey,
a young lion, lying in its hiding place.

13  Arise, Lord, meet him, and overthrow him;
with your sword, deliver me from the evildoer;

14  With your hand, Lord, deliver me from these people,
from men who put their hope in this life.

With your goods you fill their bellies;
their children are satiated
and leave what is left to their descendants.

15  But I, in righteousness, will behold your face,
and when I wake up, I will be satisfied with your image.

Meaning and interpretation

The title of Psalm 17 serves as a framework for its interpretation and message: Individual psalm of supplication , shows someone who, knowing he is innocent, sees that he is being unjustly accused . That’s why he expects justice to come from God’s intervention.

Serenity, in the end, is described as the happiness of beholding the face of God . This hope can connote the experience of peace in the place of worship, close to God, as if he lived there day and night and woke up in the morning.

The happiness of this world is limited and misleading. An illusion. The satisfaction and true to happiness come from expectation of the Psalmist to indulge with the presence of God , to awaken or revive.

The Psalms of Supplication are very present in the Book of Psalms. They speak of human frailty and the most basic feelings of your mortal condition. Times of peace and plenty contrast with war and individual or community destruction. The Psalmist pleads for God’s help and asks him to end his situation of affliction , ending with the certainty of having been heard .

In spiritual practice, the supplication and request to God reflects a lot the meaning of prayer, being the privileged way to establish contact and raise the voice to the Divine. In numerous Psalms, supplication seems to be the most immediate motivation and the greatest concern. When turning to God, the speaker / Psalmist finds tenderness, justice, compassion, reconciliation, purification, in short, peace itself.

The narratives and feelings involved in these prayers are varied and basic; affect Humanity over the millennia, and are still current today. They reflect multiple interior , individual and collective experiences, and the relationship between people and peoples. They address topics such as the deadly threat of disease, persecution, aging, violence, war, betrayal, loneliness, enemy aggression and how these feelings alter consciousness we have of ourselves, of our relationship with others and with God.

Situations that prompt supplication can be bitter and desperate , but the Psalms generally express a state of mind of trust and end in thanksgiving . The Psalmist cries out to God for his help and forgiveness in a profound expression of limitless trust in divine compassion and justice. Even the cry of the Psalmist is already a fighting speech, change will, of inner transformation, confidence and hope for a free future evil, the suffering and the wicked .

The Psalms of Supplication they are classified as individual supplication and collective supplication. Those of Individual Supplication comprise Psalm 3; 5-7; 13; 17; 22; 26; 27; 28; 31; 35; 39; 42-43; 51; 54-57; 59; 61; 63; 64; 69-71; 88; 102; 109; 120; 130; 140-143. and those of  Collective Supplication Ps 12; 44; 58; 60; 74; 80; 83; 85; 90; 94; 108; 123; 127.

The Book of Psalms

The Joy and Happiness of the Righteous in Communion with God

The Psalms are prayer-poems addressed to God, being the privileged way to address and speak with Him. Depicting the common man , with his failures, insecurities, fears and hopes, we can still identify with the Psalmist and be inspired today in Psalms to make prayers and supplications to God in times of trouble or express our gratitude for some blessing received.

The Psalms, despite being written in Antiquity, still move , sensitize , awaken feelings , inspire and enchant . In them, we can identify anguish and joy , deeply human feelings, praises, supplications, teachings of reflection on spiritual wisdom and prophetic words.

Written for different situations , some Psalms are intimate, revealing the author’s personal relationship with God; others provide guidelines and advice for life, others are compositions for specific liturgical events such as rituals and pilgrimages.

The Book of Psalms is composed of a collection of 150 poetic texts and is divided into five parts, called Psalm Books or Booklets. Each Book closes with short hymns of praise to God . The division into five parts was considered to correspond to the five books of Moses and it is assumed that each passage in the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible, called Torah by the Jews) was read in parallel with the corresponding Psalm. Its main forms are lamentation , supplication , praise and gratitude .

The Power of Prayer in Dialogue with the Divine

The Psalms elevate our thoughts to the Divine and prayer is the power of the word . Prayer is the language of faith. Any thought, word or image addressed to God is called prayer . It is through it that we come into contact with our God within and, therefore, it is so powerful in transforming life . Prayer can produce miracles , turn dreams into reality, give us hope for change , harmony and peace with ourselves and the world.

Each Psalm has an intention that helps us meditate and walk with our God . For many theologians, the Book of Psalms has a prophetic or messianic tone as its verses refer to the coming of Christ into the world of men to guide them through the uncertainty and doubts of Human existence.

The prayer has the power to call the Spiritual Universe full mode, honest, sincere, conscious, for the purpose of spiritual self-protection, family protection and those who are dear to us, to have peace of mind, spiritual and physical, for prosperity and success, to protect health and relationships, to ward off negative energies and, above all, to connect us to something bigger than ourselves. From this peace , well-being, hope and goodness in front of everyone and everything result.

The faith can change our lives. It gives us tranquility and spiritual strength to face challenges. It helps us to meditate on our mission in life and to create a balanced and healthy environment for ourselves and those we love. When you pray, fill your heart with love and determination . The Psalms will guide you on a path of peace and communion with the higher energy.