Psalm 17, Arise, O Lord, and Deliver my soul from the wicked

(15 verses, 1:10 to read)


What I am about to READ

  • David prays that his Savior would deliver him from the enemies that surround him.


  • Verses 1-2, David appeals to God’s justice.
  • Verses 3-5, he describes his life as that of faithfulness.
  • Verses 6-9, David calls upon God, that he would show love to him, and keep him from wicked.
  • Verses 10-12, David describes the wicked who close their hearts to pity, speak arrogantly, and, like a lion, eager to tear.
  • Verses 13-14, David calls on God to “Arise…Confront…[and] subdue” the wicked one. Here, David defines the wicked as having their “portion” only in this life.
  • Verse 15, Despite the wicked having their portion now, David rests secure in the fact that he will behold God’s face and be satisfied in Him.


  • David, asking for vindication, is asking for a very specific type of relief. He desires that his enemies and accusers to be shamed and utterly defeated publicly by the declaration of his (David’s) victory in the Lord. This Psalm should be understood in light of Jesus’ resurrection. What is the public testimony of Christianity? Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (cf. Rm. 4:25).
  • Of extreme importance is the proper understanding of the relationship between verses 3-5 and 6-9. On what basis can David pray, “I call upon you, for you will answer me…incline your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love…”? It would be a mistake to think David can thusly pray because verses 3-5 are true, that because David has been tested and nothing evil found, that he has not transgressed in word, that he has avoided the ways of the violent, that his feet have held fast to God’s paths, then God will hear him because David has acted righteously. In truth, true faith has simply been in action in verses 3-5 and is seen for what it is in verses 6-9: true faith trusts that the Lord is merciful and calls on him for help. True faith is also active in love, delighting in the Law, agreeing with the Law, and yes, avoiding evil.
  • Compare the language used to describe the wicked in verse 12 with Psalm 22(:13) which Jesus quotes from the Cross and 1 Peter 5:8: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” While David has specific enemies in mind, no doubt this is a prayer against our adversary, the devil. The verses that immediately follow, then, are doubly comforting: “Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword…”


  • Thanks be to God for Christ, our Lord, who wields the sword of His Word for the deliverance of His brothers. To those who seek refuge in their Savior, Jesus will show steadfast love and deliver them. Teach us, O Lord, to seek refuge in You alone. For on the Last Day you will break those who close their hearts to pity and silence those who with their mouths speak arrogantly. “From your presence let my vindication come!” In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group.

-Pastor Tyler Holt


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