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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read the passage.)
Psalm 17 plays like a greatest hits album, replaying many of the common lines and themes we’ve seen from the psalms so far. Greatest hits albums are comforting because they show that this material lasts. They show that these concepts are not just one-hit-wonders, but are a deep well we can come back to again and again. In Western Christianity and Western culture at large, we are obsessed with solving our problems. If it is conceded at all by Christians that we’ll have problems in this world, in the next breath we are being told a 3-step plan to solve those very problems. The repetition of the psalms tell us problems don’t work that way.
Remember that the psalms would have been used by Jews in a similar way as a modern day hymn book. These psalms were sung regularly in worship as a response to real life issues the people were facing.
Hear me, Lord… listen to my cry… hear my prayer…
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in your from their foes.
…hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me…
They have tracked me down, they now surround me…
Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down…
I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
What stands out in psalm 17 is how the psalmist finds his ultimate peace in seeing God’s face. We never know in the psalms if the vindication (from the persecution) prayed for happens right away, happens later, or never happens at all. But here, yet again, we see the psalmist isn’t counting on his problem to go away as his source of peace. He will be satisfied when he wakes up in the morning because of seeing God’s likeness! He is talking about being in the presence of the Lord. There is an utter assurance throughout the psalms that God is God. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All-powerful and transcendent, yet personal, loving, and intimate. The blessing of God is not the “presents” we so often want from him, it is his presence. This is our bedrock. This is our shelter and refuge.
Most people I know, myself included, face ongoing trials, problems, and struggles that have no end date. Psalm 17 is another reminder that God is our refuge and strength in the midst of these. It’s another reminder that as dark and bleak things seem in culture, it’s nothing God hasn’t seen before. He was faithful then and he is faithful now. He is with us and is worthy of our praise.
Prayer for the day: God be my strength. Be my refuge in the storm. Let me hide in the shadow of your wings. Remind me that I am the apple of your eye! Help me to experience your presence right now in this moment. Slow me down so I can hear your voice speaking love to me.
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