Psalm 17:3
You have proved my heart; you have visited me in the night; you have tried me, and shall find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
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(3) In the night (as Psalm 16:7).—The time of calm reflection and self-examination. Some, however, taking this verse in connection with Psalm 17:15, think the poem was composed at night.

I am purposed.—The Hebrew word presents a difficulty. It is better to take it as a noun—counsels, and here, as generally, evil counsels—and join it to the preceding, not (as in the Authorised Version) the following words.

“Thou hast proved my heart,

Thou hast visited me in the night,

Thou hast found no malice in me,

My mouth doth not transgress, or

It (malice) doth not pass my mouth.”

“I offend”—that is, “neither in thought nor word.” The LXX., Vulg., Syr., Chald., and Arab. versions support this arrangement.

Psalm 17:3. Thou hast proved mine heart — Or searched, or tried it, by many temptations and afflictions; by which the sincerity or hypocrisy of men’s hearts is discovered, and especially is manifest to thy all-seeing eye. Thou hast visited me in the night — Thou hast been present with me in my greatest privacies; to discover whether, in my retirement from the eyes of men, in the night season, when secrecy and solitude prompt the hypocrite to sin, I was forming any evil designs, or indulging any mischievous imaginations. Thou hast tried me — Accurately and severely, as goldsmiths do metals. And shalt find nothing — Nothing of unrighteousness in me. In the Hebrew it is only, Thou shalt not find; namely, that whereof my enemies accuse me, whether hypocrisy toward thee, or evil designs against Saul, covered with fair pretences. I am purposed — I have resolved upon deliberation, as the word here used implies; that my mouth shall not transgress — I am so far from taking any measures, or practising any thing against Saul’s life, as they charge me, that I will not wrong him so much as in word. Or, more generally, and without any particular reference to Saul, “I am so far from doing any wicked thing, that I will keep a strict watch even over my words; and though mine enemies persecute me ever so much by their evil deeds, I am resolved they shall not tempt me to speak evil.” Observe, reader, he does not say, I hope my mouth shall not transgress, or I wish it may not, but I am fully purposed that it shall not. With this bridle he kept it, Psalm 39:2. Constant resolution and watchfulness against the sins of the tongue will be a good evidence of our integrity. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, James 3:2.17:1-7 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.Thou hast proved mine heart - In this verse he refers to his own character and life in the matter under consideration, or the consciousness of his own innocence in respect to his fellow-men who are persecuting and opposing him. He appeals to the Great Searcher of hearts in proof that, in this respect, he was innocent; and he refers to different forms of trial on the part of God to show that after the most thorough search he would find, and did find, that in these respects he was an innocent man, and that his enemies had no occasion to treat him as they had done. It is still to be borne in mind here that the trial which the psalmist asks at the hand of God was not to prove that he was innocent toward him, or that he had a claim to His favor on account of his own personal holiness, but it was that he was innocent of any wrong toward those who were persecuting him, or, in other words, that after the most searching trial, even by his Maker, it would be found that he had given them no cause for treating him thus. The word here rendered "proved" means "to try, to prove, to examine," especially metals, to test their genuineness. See Psalm 7:9-10, note; Job 12:11, note. The psalmist here says that God had tried or searched "his heart." He knew all his motives. He had examined all his desires and his thoughts. The psalmist felt assured that, after the most thorough trial, even God would not find anything in his heart that would justify the conduct of his enemies toward him.

Thou hast visited me - That is, for the purpose of inspecting my character, or of examining me. The English word "visit," like the Hebrew, is often used to denote a visitation for the purpose of inspection and examination. The idea is, that God had come to him for the very purpose of "examining" his character.

In the night - In solitude. In darkness. When I was alone. In the time when the thoughts are less under restraint than they are when surrounded by others. In a time when it can be seen what we really are; when we do not put on appearances to deceive others.

Thou hast tried me - The word used here - צרף tsâraph - means properly "to melt, to smelt," etc., metals, or separating the pure metal from the dross. The meaning is, that God, in examining into his character, had subjected him to a trial as searching as that employed in purifying metals by casting them into the fire.

And shalt find nothing - Thou wilt find nothing that could give occasion for the conduct of my enemies. The future tense is used here to denote that, even if the investigation were continued, God would find nothing in his heart or in his conduct that would warrant their treatment of him. He had the most full and settled determination not to do wrong to them in any respect whatever. Nothing had been found in him that would justify their treatment of him; he was determined so to live, and he felt assured that he would so live, that nothing of the kind would be found in him in time to come. "I am purposed." I am fully resolved.

My mouth shall not transgress - Transgress the law of God, or go beyond what is right. That is, I will utter nothing which is wrong, or which can give occasion for their harsh and unkind treatment. Much as he had been provoked and injured, he was determined not to retaliate, or to give occasion for their treating him in the manner in which they were now doing. Prof. Alexander renders this "My mouth shall not exceed my thought; "but the common version gives a better idea, and is sanctioned by the Hebrew. Compare Gesenius, Lexicon.

3. proved … visited … tried—His character was most rigidly tested, at all times, and by all methods, affliction and others (Ps 7:10).

purposed that, &c.—or, my mouth does not exceed my purpose; I am sincere.

Proved, or searched, or tried it, by many and sore temptations and afflictions, whereby the sincerity or hypocrisy of men’s hearts are easily and commonly discovered, and especially by thy all-seeing eye. And that is my great comfort, that thou art witness of my innocency.

Thou hast visited me; thou hast made an inspection and inquiry into my heart.

In the night; either,

1. Metaphorically, i.e. in the time of trouble. Or,

2. Properly; when men’s minds being freed from the encumbrance and distraction of business, and from the presence and society of men, (which either lays a restraint upon them, or tempts them to use dissimulation,) do act most vigorously and freely, either upon good or evil, according to their several inclinations.

Thou hast tried me, accurately and severely, as goldsmiths do metals.

Shalt find nothing, i.e. nothing of unrighteousness. Heb. shalt not find, to wit, that whereof mine enemies accuse me, namely, hypocrisy towards thee, and evil design against Saul, covered under fair pretences, as they allege. So this general phrase is to be limited from the context, as other generals most frequently are. For he was so far from thinking himself sinless, that he often acknowledgeth his many and great sins, and particularly, that if God should enter into judgment with him, and be severe to mark iniquities, no living man could be justified, or stand before him, Psalm 130:3 143:2.

I am purposed, or, I have resolved upon deliberation, as the word implies, that my mouth shall not transgress; I am so far from practising against Saul’s life, as they charge me, that I will not wrong him so much as in a word. Some join these words with the next foregoing, and render the place thus, That which I have thought, my mouth shall not transgress, or rather, hath not transgressed, i.e. my thoughts and words always agree together. I abhor falsehood and dissimulation. Thou hast proved mine heart,.... This properly belongs to God, who is the searcher of the heart and reins, and is desired by all good men; and though God has no need to make use of any means to know the heart, and what is in it; yet in order to know, or rather to make known, what is in the hearts of his people, he proves them sometimes by adversity, as he did Abraham and Job, and sometimes by prosperity, by mercies given forth in a wonderful way, as to the Israelites in the wilderness, Deuteronomy 8:2; sometimes by suffering false prophets and false teachers to be among them, Deuteronomy 13:3; and sometimes by leaving corruptions in them, and them to their corruptions, as he left the Canaanites in the land, and as he left Hezekiah to his own heart, Judges 2:22. In one or other or more of these ways God proved the heart of David, and found him to be a man after his own heart; and in the first of these ways he proved Christ, who was found faithful to him that appointed him, and was a man approved of God;

thou hast visited me in the night; God visited and redeemed his people in the night of Jewish darkness; he visits and calls them by his grace in the night of unregeneracy; and so he visits with his gracious presence in the night of desertion; and he often visits by granting counsel, comfort, and support, in the night of affliction, which seems to be intended here; thus he visited the human nature of Christ in the midst of his sorrows and sufferings, when it was the Jews' hour and power of darkness. Elsewhere God is said to visit every morning, Job 7:18;

thou hast tried me; as silver and gold are tried in the furnace; thus the people of God, and their graces in them, are tried by afflictions; so David was tried, and in this manner Christ himself was tried; wherefore he is called the tried stone, Isaiah 28:16;

and shalt find nothing; or "shalt not find": which is variously supplied; some "thy desire", or what is well pleasing to thee, so Jarchi; or "thou hast not found me innocent", as Kimchi; others supply it quite the reverse, "and iniquity is not found in me", as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions; or "thou hast not found iniquity in me", as the Syriac and Arabic versions; to which agrees the Chaldee paraphrase, "and thou hast not found corruption"; which must be understood, not as if there was no sin and corruption in David; for he often makes loud complaints and large confessions of his sins, and earnestly prays for the forgiveness of them; but either that there was no sin in his heart which he regarded, Psalm 66:18; which he nourished and cherished, which he indulged and lived in; or rather there was no such crime found in him, which his enemies charged him with; see Psalm 7:3. This is true of Christ in the fullest sense; no iniquity was ever found in him by God, by men or devils, John 14:30, 1 Peter 2:22; and also of his people, as considered in him, being justified by his righteousness, and washed in his blood, Jeremiah 50:20; though otherwise, as considered in themselves, they themselves find sin and corruption abounding in them, Romans 7:18;

I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress; by murmuring against God, on account of his visitation and fiery trials, or by railing at men for their false charges and accusations; this resolution was taken up by the psalmist in the strength of divine grace, and was kept by him, Psalm 39:9; so Christ submitted himself patiently to the will of God without repining, and when reviled by men reviled not again, Luke 22:42; and from hence may be learned, that the laws of God may be transgressed by words as well as by works, and that the one as well as the other should be guarded against; see Psalm 39:1.

Thou hast {c} proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my {d} mouth shall not transgress.

(c) When your Spirit examined my conscience.

(d) I was innocent toward my enemy both in deed and thought.

3. Thou hast tried mine heart (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 11:4-5); thou hast visited me in the night, when men’s thoughts range unrestrainedly, and they appear in their true colours (Psalm 36:4); thou hast proved or refined me (Psalm 66:10), and findest nothing, no dross of evil purpose. But see next note.

I am purposed &c.] A difficult and much disputed clause. The A.V., retained in R.V. text, follows the Massoretic accents. It is however better to connect this and the preceding clause thus:

Thou hast proved me, and findest no evil purpose in me;

My mouth doth not transgress.

In thought, word, and deed (Psalm 17:4), he has nothing to fear from the Divine scrutiny.

3–5. The bold language of a good conscience. See Introd. p. lxxxvii. Cp. Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16.Verse 3. - Thou hast proved mine heart (comp. Psalm 26:2; Psalm 66:9; Psalm 95:9; Psalm 139:23). "Proved" means "tried," "tested," examined strictly, so as to know whether there was any wickedness in it or not. Thou hast visited me in the night. The night is the time when men can least escape those searching, testing thoughts which God's providence then especially sends, to "try the very heart and reins" (Psalm 7:9). Thou hast tried me., and shalt find nothing; rather, and findest nothing. The process was one begun in the past, and continuing on in the present. God was ever searching David and trying him; but "found nothing," i.e. no alloy, no base rectal, no serious flaw in his character; not that he was sinless, but that he 'was sincere and earnest - a true worshipper of God, not a hypocrite. I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man" (James 3:2). David's resolution to "keep the door of his lips" would have a chastening influence over both his thoughts and acts. The measuring lines (הבלים) are cast (Micah 2:5) and fall to any one just where and as far as his property is assigned to him; so that נפל חבל (Joshua 17:5) is also said of the falling to any one of his allotted portion of land. נעמים (according to the Masora defective as also in Psalm 16:11 נעמות) is a pluralet., the plural that is used to denote a unity in the circumstances, and a similarity in the relations of time and space, Ges. ֗108, 2, a; and it signifies both pleasant circumstances, Job 36:11, and, as here, a pleasant locality, Lat. amaena (to which נעמות in Psalm 16:11, more strictly corresponds). The lines have fallen to him in a charming district, viz., in the pleasurable fellowship of God, this most blessed domain of love has become his paradisaic possession. With אף he rises from the fact to the perfect contentment which it secures to him: such a heritage seems to him to be fair, he finds a source of inward pleasure and satisfaction in it. נחלת - according to Ew. 173, d, lengthened from the construct form נהלת (like נגינת Psalm 61:1); according to Hupfeld, springing from נחלתי (by the same apocope that is so common in Syriac, perhaps like אמרתּ Psalm 16:1 from אמרתּי) just like זמרת Exodus 15:2 - is rather, since in the former view there is no law for the change of vowel and such an application of the form as we find in Psalm 60:13 (Psalm 108:13) is opposed to the latter, a stunted form of נחלתה: the heritage equals such a heritage pleases me, lit., seems fair to me (שׁפר, cognate root ספר, צפר, cognate in meaning בשׂר, Arab. bs̆r, to rub, polish, make shining, intr. שׁפר to be shining, beautiful). עלי of beauty known and felt by him (cf. Esther 3:9 with 1 Samuel 25:36 טוב עליו, and the later way of expressing it Daniel 3:32). But since the giver and the gift are one and the same, the joy he has in the inheritance becomes of itself a constant thanksgiving to and blessing of the Giver, that He (אשׁר quippe qui) has counselled him (Psalm 73:24) to choose the one thing needful, the good part. Even in the night-seasons his heart keeps watch, even then his reins admonish him (יסּר, here of moral incitement, as in Isaiah 8:11, to warn). The reins are conceived of as the seat of the blessed feeling that Jahve is his possession (vid., Psychol. S. 268; tr. p. 316). He is impelled from within to offer hearth-felt thanks to his merciful and faithful God. He has Jahve always before him, Jahve is the point towards which he constantly directs his undiverted gaze; and it is easy for him to have Him thus ever present, for He is מימיני (supply הוּא, as in Psalm 22:29; Psalm 55:20; Psalm 112:4), at my right hand (i.e., where my right hand begins, close beside me), so that he has no need to draw upon his power of imagination. The words בּל־אמּוט, without any conjunction, express the natural effect of this, both in consciousness and in reality: he will not and cannot totter, he will not yield and be overthrown.
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