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Psalms 17:1-15 Hear My Plea

Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 9, 2013


Psalms 17:1-15 NLTse O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips. (2) Declare me innocent, for you see those who do right. (3) You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. (4) I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. (5) My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. (6) I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. (7) Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. (8) Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. (9) Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me. (10) They are without pity. Listen to their boasting! (11) They track me down and surround me, watching for the chance to throw me to the ground. (12) They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart– like young lions hiding in ambush. (13) Arise, O LORD! Stand against them, and bring them to their knees! Rescue me from the wicked with your sword! (14) By the power of your hand, O LORD, destroy those who look to this world for their reward. But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones. May their children have plenty, leaving an inheritance for their descendants. (15) Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

 

Some times we can look at a text, see it’s a prophecy about Jesus, but can’t be sure where it’s explained in the New Testament. It appears Psalm 17 is telling about Jesus – asking God to listen, pay attention, and declare Him innocent. We know Jesus is the only person who could ask God to declare Him innocent – at least the first person. When David wrote about hungry lions, it leads us to believe this is about Jesus on the cross. But which text and chapter explain exactly how this has been fulfilled? Looking back on what we’ve learned, we know the answer is in the key words. This texts has so many key words, it looks confusing. It shows God has a sense of humor, or this is an exam. Since this chapter has such a wide variety of key words, one method that may help is to make a chart of the key word groups.

 

Plea, prayer, praying, pray

Listen, attention,

see, tested, examined, scrutinized

followed, following,

enemies

Guard, Protect

wicked

Rescue

face

 

See how a chart of the key words tells a story all its own? The two most likely appear to be prayer and see. These two words lead us to only a few verses in the Gospels. Only one seems like a close fit. Next we compare the texts and chapters.

 

Matthew 6:5-15 NLTse “When you praydon’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. (6) But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (7) “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. (8) Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! (9) Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (10) May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (11) Give us today the food we need, (12) and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (13) And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. (14) “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. (15) But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

It’s easy to see prayer is the main theme is Jesus’ lesson. He tells us to look at prayer two ways. First Jesus tells us how not to pray. Prayer should not attract attention from the world. That’s because it’s directed to Heaven in a personal manner. David also covers hypocrites in his own way. “They are without pity. Listen to their boasting!” David elaborates on the attitude and actions of hypocrites. “They track me down and surround me, watching for the chance to throw me to the ground. They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart– like young lions hiding in ambush.” Hypocrites look out for themselves. They have a form of godliness with plans of destruction on their minds. Their prayers are designed to gain the confidence of unsuspecting people. Once the trap is set, people flock to them like birds, expecting a reward, but find themselves trapped in a cage of deceit.

 

When Jesus points out how to pray by ourselves, He is pointing to the close and personal relationship with God He came to teach about. He also points us back to David’s prayer which takes on a who new meaning when we put it into the personal context Jesus teaches about. “O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.” Look at this prayer not only from David’s view point, but Jesus’. It’s a plea to God to listen. We know God is always listening, sees everything, and is always with us. Why would we have to ask God to listen? Why would David or Jesus ask God to listen? Prayer works in stages. In essence, prayer is approaching God’s throne. As a symbol of Jesus, David shows his humility when approaching God’s throne. Jesus approaches His Father’s throne with the same humility. It’s an example for us to follow. Look how Jesus tells us to begin our prayers. “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” It’s a praise to God while reminding us who we are. Look how David continues his prayer. “You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say. I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you. I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.” David’s prayer and Jesus’ go hand in hand and compliment one another. “Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” We need to be rescued by God as well as David and Jesus needed God’s help. “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemiesGuard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me.” We all face problems, temptations, trials, and threats. David had his problems – so did Jesus. In addition to people trying to physically trying to kill Him, Jesus had Satan and his angels tempting and trying to kill Jesus spiritually. A lot of people say, “Jesus was tempted just like us.” I wonder if they realize what Jesus faced. We can sin and receive forgiveness. Jesus had no one but God to look to. If Jesus sinned just once, that would have ended it all. No one has ever faced that type of pressure. No one can imagine what Jesus had to go through for us. No one knows how much He prayed and listened to God. We do know it worked for Jesus. Look what we see when we compare the end of the two prayers. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” “Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” If that doesn’t explain why we need to forgive, nothing will. Jesus brought out two main points in these parallel texts, how to pray and how prayer needs to be addressed to God in private. Looking back at the introduction, we see how Jesus was adding details to the lesson He began at the beginning of this chapter.

 

Matthew 6:1-4 NLTse “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (2) When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. (3) But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. (4) Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

 

Jesus begins His lesson with the warning to, “Watch out!” He then tells us not to do our good deeds in public. Compare this to David who prays in private. Who is David praying to? “LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.” We’ve seen how God uses contracts to teach the same lesson. Here is a perfect example of God using contrasts to teach about prayer and a personal relationship with Him. We also see the key word Jesus used to introduce this subject. Why did Jesus choose the key word, reward to introduce the subject? We also see Jesus used the key word, give in His introduction. Give and reward are also contrasting words. Did Jesus do this to draw the attention of the people listening to the lesson, spell out important details of the lesson, or both? Let’s take a look at how some people or businesses unfairly use giving and prayer.

 

Companies often advertise a free give away. It may be a gift or contest. What’s their real intent? To get your contact information so they can hound you for the rest of your life to sell you something. It may be the offer of a free item to gain access to your home – steal a moment of your time. It may be the promise of making you rich in a drawing to entice you to buy products. Either way, nothing’s free. There’s always a price to pay. Who profits in the end? Even churches will use this method to get people through their doors. They promise a free book or CD to get you to come in and listen to them. Number one – these churches show little faith in God’s Spirit. They rely on worldly tactics to get your attention. What kind of information will they share? Worldly or spiritual? Pay attention to their prayers. Are they tainted with the bits and pieces of information they are selling? Are their prayers about the doctrines and prophecies they want to sell you? What about God? Are there conditions to His rewards?

 

When we look at the Gospels, we see examples of Jesus calling His disciples. Did He promise them anything? No! Jesus asked His disciples to give everything up. “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NLTse). Of course Jesus promised them something in return – eternal life. What about the people Jesus healed? Did Jesus call a bunch of people together then healed them to attract a crowd of listeners? People came to Jesus to be healed. “But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.” (Luke 5:15 NLTse). Now look at the very next verse in the context of what we’ve been learning. “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 NLTse). Despite the crowds and power Jesus received, He still had to withdraw into the wilderness to be alone with His Father. How many examples do we find in the Gospels of Jesus praying before His taught lesson? None! Then where do preachers get this concept from? What about healing? Did Jesus use His power of healing to attract people? When Jesus healed the leper, He sent him to the priests. When Jesus healed ten lepers, He sent them away. When Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man, Jesus told him to go back and tell his family what happened to him. When Jesus healed the religious leader’s daughter, He left. When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, He sent him back to check on his servant. Jesus had a habit of sending people away after healing. Why? Jesus wanted them to be alone, to find God’s Spirit on their own. Jesus did it all for God’s glory. What a contrast to this world? No wonder why Jesus taught using contrasts. “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” When David asked God to, “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.” Do you think David wanted a public display or power, or do you think David wanted something close and personal? By drawing attention to the relationship between giving and prayer, Jesus showed how each needs to be close and personal. It seems like a mystery because it’s so different from this world. How does Jesus sum up the lesson at the end of this chapter?

 

Matthew 6:24-34 NLTse “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (25) “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? (26) Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? (27) Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (28) “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, (29) yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. (30) And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (31) “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ (32) These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (33) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (34) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

 

I’ve heard this preached a thousand times. Every time I’ve heard it, the pastor segregate a single verse from this chapter. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Why would they do that? After quoting a single scripture they attempt to explain it in their own words, using their own thoughts, maybe mixing in a scripture or two from other parts of the Bible. But are the other verses within the same context? They may seem like they are, but are they really? We can take what we’ve learned to test their theory. The results may show how much time teachers these days spend alone with God in prayer. The main focus of sermons is always on money – but the rules of context tell us to look at words that are repeated. Remember the relationship between the words? They are the same, similar, or related. In the verse preachers segregate, the only word repeated is, serve. The next rule of context is to look at the introduction and summation to determine the main theme.

 

Matthew 6:1-2 NLTse “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (2) When yougive to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

 

Matthew 6:32-34 NLTse These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (33) Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (34) “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

 

When we look at the introduction and summation of Matthew 6 and compare it to the key word, service, we begin to understand what that one verse is teaching. No one can serve two masters. Money is not the main thought, but service is. In the introduction Jesus tells us to serve others. His summation tells us to serve God by not worrying about the world and all the strain it places in us. God wants to free us from worry so we have more time with Him. “O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.”

 

We see the beauty of contrast and context when we compare the two parallel chapters. Look at how David explained this concept in his prophecy. “By the power of your hand, O LORD, destroy those who look to this world for their reward. But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones. May their children have plenty, leaving an inheritance for their descendants. Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” This is only brought to light when we study the Bible within the context it was written. What is the fulfillment of David’s prophecy? What fulfillment is it pointing to? When we look at Matthew 6, we see it is written at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. To accomplish His task, Jesus needed God’s protection throughout His ministry. When David wrote, “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies,” he was showing how Jesus would face enemies throughout His ministry, just like we face temptation and attacks throughout our lives. Teaching about Jesus is much more than teaching about the cross. The cross has its time and place when reaching out to others, but does little for someone in need when you have the ability to help. Look at the main themes, giving and prayer. Compare them to the summation where God promises to provide all your needs. How have you been taught to pray? Is it as detailed as this study shows? Most people have prayer lists. Do you go through yours, asking God to help others? We can’t be sure how prayer works. We don’t know if prayer somehow frees God from some type of rules of engagement in the conflict between Him and Satan. Some time, long ago, Satan openly defied God. Somehow Satan attempted to over throw God’s government in Heaven. All we know is, Jesus was able to conquer Satan and a third of God’s angels who took sides with him. Satan was defeated in Heaven and cast down to earth. Then Jesus came here to face Satan in what he claimed was his world. Once again, Jesus defeated Satan when he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus defeated Satan with words from scripture. A close study of the subject in the Gospels and the scripture Jesus quoted will show, Jesus answered all of Satan’s temptations in the first scripture He quoted. It will also show Satan’s biggest mistake – he separated himself from God. Of course the Old Testament scripture tells about that and its consequences. It also showed how Satan failed to properly interpret scripture, a gift and power God’s Spirit can easily give us. These two parallel chapters show how important it is to regain that one on one contact with God. There is a relationship between giving, receiving, and prayer. There is one more rule of Bible study we can check. How did the author lead into Matthew 6 that recorded the fulfillment of Psalm 17? “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48 NLTse). It shows how important our relationship with others is. All of the prophecies about Jesus show details about God’s plan of salvation. First and most important is our relationship with God. Once that is established, God will supply everything we need to develop relationships with others … and provide their needs. As these two chapters combine to show, this is the process Jesus had to follow to be successful. He needed protection as well as guidance and power to speak, reach out, and heal. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

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