|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-7 This psalm is a prayer. Feigned prayers are fruitless; but if our hearts lead our prayers, God will meet them with his favour. The psalmist had been used to pray, so that it was not his distress and danger that now first brought him to his duty. And he was encouraged by his faith to expect God would notice his prayers. Constant resolution and watchfulness against sins of the tongue, will be a good evidence of our integrity. Aware of man's propensity to wicked works, and of his own peculiar temptations, David had made God's word his preservative from the paths of Satan, which lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very comfortable in the reflection, when we are in trouble. Those that are, through grace, going in God's paths, should pray that their goings may be held up in those paths. David prays, Lord, still hold me up. Those who would proceed and persevere in the ways of God, must, by faith prayer, get daily fresh supplies of grace and strength from him. Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, distinguishing favours, not common mercies, but be gracious to me; do as thou usest to do to those who love thy name.
Verse 1. - Hear the right, O Lord (comp. Psalm 9:4). Here and elsewhere the psalmist assumes that right is on his side, and that he is persecuted unjustly. Unless he had been convinced of this, he could not have called on God to vindicate him. The narrative in 1 Samuel 18. - 27, fully justifies his conviction. Attend unto my cry (comp. Psalm 4:1; Psalm 5:2; Psalm 61:1). Rinnah, the word translated "cry" here (and in Psalm 61:1) is a strong term: it means "shout," "outcry" - most often, though not here, "a shout of joy." Give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips; rather, feigning lips, or guileful lips - lips, i.e., that speak falsehood knowingly.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Hear the right, O Lord,.... The psalmist appeals to the Lord as a Judge, sitting on the throne judging right, that he would hear his cause litigated between him and his adversaries, determine and give the decisive sentence about it; so Christ committed himself to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23; for by "right" may be meant his right and cause, or his righteous cause, as in Psalm 9:4; unless rather his righteous prayer should be intended, so the Targum paraphrases it, "my prayer in righteousness"; not presented for the sake of his own righteousness, but on account of the righteousness of Christ, and for the vindication of his righteous cause before men: the Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, render it "my righteousness", meaning his righteous cause; but rather the word may be rendered "righteousness" (z), or the "righteous one", and may design the psalmist himself, who was a righteous person, and such the Lord hears; or Christ, whose name is the Lord our righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; and who, as an advocate or intercessor for himself and for his people, is Jesus Christ the righteous, 1 John 2:1. The Septuagint version takes it to be an epithet of the Lord himself, translating it, "O Lord of my righteousness", as in Psalm 4:1; and so the Syriac version, "hear, O holy Lord"; and in this manner does Christ address his father in prayer, John 17:11; and the consideration of the holiness and righteousness of God is of use in prayer to glorify God, and to command a proper awe and reverence of him;
attend unto my cry; the word for "cry" signifies both a noise made in a way of joy and grief; wherefore the Chaldee paraphrase renders it, "attend to my praise", or hymn of praise, and which arises from sorrow and distress; and intends not mental prayer attended with groanings which cannot be uttered, but vocal prayer expressed in a loud and mournful manner, signifying the distress the person is in, and his earnestness and importunacy for help; and of this sort were some of Christ's prayers; see Hebrews 5:7;
give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips; hypocritical and deceitful ones; but this went forth from his heart, which was lifted up with his hands to God, to whom he drew nigh with a true heart, and called upon him in the sincerity and uprightness of his soul; and of this sort were all Christ's prayers, in whose mouth there is no guile: the various expressions, "hear, attend, give ear", which signify the same thing, show the distress the supplicant was in, the fervency of his prayer, and his vehement and earnest desire to be heard and answered immediately; and since the accent "athnach" is upon the word "my prayer", this last clause is not to be joined only to that, but refers to all that is said before; as that his "right" and his "cry", as well as his prayer, were unfeigned.
(z) "justitiam", Vatablus, Cocceius, Gejerus; , Aquila in Drusius; "justitiam", i.e. "me qui sum justus", Piscator.
The Treasury of David
1 Hear the right, O Lord attend unto my unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer that goeth not out of reigned lips.
2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.
3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.
"Hear the right, O Lord." He that has the worst cause makes the most noise; hence the oppressed soul is apprehensive that its voice may be drowned, and therefore pleads in this one verse for a hearing no less than three times. The troubled heart craves for the ear of the great Judge, persuaded that with him to hear is to redress if our God could not or would not hear us, our state would be deplorable indeed; and yet some professors set such small store by the mercy-seat, that God does not hear them for the simple reason that they neglect to plead. As well have no house if we persist like gypsies in living in the lanes and commons; as well have no mercy-seat as be always defending our own cause and never going to God. There is more fear that we will not hear the Lord than that the Lord will not hear us. "Hear the right;" it is well if our case is good in itself and can be urged as a right one, for right shall never be wronged by our righteous Judge; but if our suit be marred by our infirmities, it is a great privilege that we may make mention of the righteousness of our Lord Jesus, which is ever prevalent on high. Right has a voice which Jehovah always hears; and if my wrongs clamour against me with great force and fury, I will pray the Lord to hear that still louder and mightier voice of the right, and the rights of his dear Son. "Hear, O God, the just One;" i.e., "hear the Messiah," is a rendering adopted by Jerome, and admired by Bishop Horsley, whether correct or not as a translation, it is proper enough as a plea. Let the reader plead it at the throne of the righteous God, even when all other arguments are unavailing.
"Attend unto my cry." This shows the vehemence and earnestness of the petitioner; he is no mere talker, he weeps and laments. Who can resist a cry? A real hearty, bitter, piteous cry, might almost melt a rock, there can be no fear of its prevalence with our heavenly Father. A cry is our earliest utterance, and in many ways the most natural of human sounds; if our prayer should like the infant's cry be more natural than intelligent, and more earnest than elegant, it will be none the less eloquent with God. There is a mighty power in a child's cry to prevail with a parent's heart. "Give ear unto my prayer." Some repetitions are not vain. The reduplication here used is neither superstition nor tautology, but is like the repeated blow of a hammer hitting the same nail on the head to fix it the more effectually, or the continued knocking of a beggar at the gate who cannot be denied an alms. "That goeth not out of feigned lips." Sincerity is a sine qu non in prayer. Lips of deceit are detestable to man and much more to God. In intercourse so hallowed as that of prayer, hypocrisy even in the remotest degree is as fatal as it is foolish. Hypocritical piety is double iniquity. He who would feign and flatter had better try his craft with a fool like himself, for to deceive the all-seeing One is as impossible as to take the moon in a net, or to lead the sun into a snare. He who would deceive God is himself already most grossly deceived. Our sincerity in prayer has no merit in it, any more than the earnestness of a mendicant in the street; but at the same time the Lord has regard to it, through Jesus, and will not long refuse his ear to an honest and fervent petitioner.
"Let my sentence come forth from thy presence." The Psalmist has now grown bold by the strengthening influence of prayer, and he now entreats the Judge of all the earth to give sentence upon his case. He had been libelled, basely and maliciously libelled; and having brought his action before the highest court, he, like an innocent man, has no desire to escape the enquiry, but even invites and sues for judgment. He does not ask for secrecy, but would have the result come forth to the world. He would have sentence pronounced and executed forthwith. In some matters we may venture to be as bold as this; but except we can plead something better than our own supposed innocence, it were terrible presumption thus to challenge the judgment of a sin-hating God. With Jesus as our complete and all-glorious righteousness we need not fear, though the day of judgment should commence at once, and hell open her mouth at our feet, but might joyfully prove the truth of our hymn writer's holy boast -
"Bold shall I stand in that great day;
For who ought to my charge shall lay?
While, through thy blood, absolved Iam
From sin's tremendous curse and shame."
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 17:1-15. This Psalm is termed a prayer because the language of petition is predominant. With a just cause, sincerely presented, the writer prays for a just decision and help and protection. Pleading former mercies as a ground of hope, he urges his prayer in view of the malice, pride, rapacity, and selfishness of his foes, whose character is contrasted with his pious devotion and delight in God's favor.
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