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The Prayer God Hears

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Psalm 17

Psalm 17 (ESV)
A Prayer of David.
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.
Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

I. David’s Innocence (vv. 1-5)

David’s Appeal

Psalm 17:1–2 (ESV)
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!
David is appeal to God on the basis that his request is just and innocent. He is not asking God to turn a blind eye towards his own sin or to help him sin. He is making the claim that his lips are free from deceit.
He is not asking God to do something to justify any idolatry or sinfulness within himself.
James Johnston - Preaching the Word Series - “As a pastor I might pray, “Lord, bless our church so that more people will hear the gospel.” But in reality I might want to feel important because more people are coming to my church. God sees that deceit. A woman might ask God to provide finances so she has more to give. But in reality she is materialistic - she loves money and wants to buy more clothes. A man might pray for a promotion so he can influence his company for Christ. But deep down he loves power and wants to get ahead. God knows deceit when he hears it. God listens to honest prayer.”

God’s Examination

Psalm 17:3–5 (ESV)
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
It’s one thing to claim innocence for oneself, it’s another for God to examine us and prove that this is true.
This testing that David mentions is like the testing of refining gold, which melts it down and allows whatever impurities to rise up to the surface. The picture is that God has melted down David’s heart so that whatever impurity was present would come to the surface.
David has also committed to avoid the ways of violence and to keep his steps in line with God. God can see into his heart and see the genuineness of this commitment to reject the ways of the world and to remain committed to God’s righteous ways.

II. God’s Love (vv. 6-12)

A. God’s Covenant Loyalty (vv. 6-9)

Psalm 17:6–9 (ESV)
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.

B. David’s Dangerous Situation (vv. 10-12)

Psalm 17:10–12 (ESV)
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.

III. David’s Love for God (vv. 13-15

A. The Wicked’s Love for the World
Psalm 17:13–14 (ESV)
Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.
B. David’s Love for God’s Presence
Psalm 17:15 (ESV)
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
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