May 7: Psalm 17

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May 7: Psalm 17

Prayer of the Righteous

Common meter 86.86             Azmon (O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing), p. 49
New Britain (Amazing Grace), p. 29

Give ear to what is right, O Lord! O listen to my cry!

Give heed to this my earnest prayer from lips which do not lie.

May judgment from Your presence come which will me vindicate,

And always may Your searching eyes see what is just and straight.

For You have scrutinized my heart; You came to me by night.

You’ve probed and found no ill intent; my mouth speaks only right.

From acts of men, from violence I’m guarded by Your word;

My steps held closely to Your paths; my footsteps have not erred.

On You, O God, my soul has called, for You will answer me.

O listen to my earnest words! Incline Your ear to me!

In wondrous ways Your mercy show, O You, preserving those

Who seek to find at Your right hand a refuge from their foes.

Keep me the apple of Your eye; beneath Your wings me hide

From wicked men and deadly foes who press on every side.

They have closed off their hardened heart, their boasting words abound.

They compass us and fix their eyes to cast us to the ground.

My enemy’s a lion strong that craves to tear his prey.

He’s like a lion young that lurks in ambush every day.

Arise, O Lord. Confront my foe. O bring him very low!

O save my soul from wicked men! Let them feel Your sword’s blow.

Save me by Your own hand, O Lord, from worldly men of earth,

Who only in this present life know anything of worth.

You filled them with the wealth You stored, their children satisfied;

So they may leave enough behind their young ones to provide.

But as for me with righteousness shall I behold Your face,

I shall be satisfied to wake and see You face to face.

Psalm 17 pertains to the hope of Christ in the context of His death and burial. Its final line is the key to its interpretation: “But I will appear before Your face in righteousness; at beholding Your glory will I be satisfied.” Such was the hope of Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). It was in His Passion, then, that Jesus was put to the trial, and Psalm 17 is one of those psalms expressing His supplication to the Father in that setting. As this last line shows, the prayer of Jesus was that of a righteous man. Himself sinless, God’s Son became one with us in our fallen humanity, knowing fear and dread, but likewise trusting in God as a man. He assumed all that we are, in order that we, by Him, may be partakers of who He is. (Reardon, p. 31-32)

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