In this psalm David provides us with a very heartfelt prayer for protection. Have you ever felt beaten down by the unfair actions of others? Then pray this prayer for protection.
As is often the case in Psalms, we find the key theme at the center:
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
This verse is placed in the very center of the psalm with 17 lines before and 17 lines after. Interestingly this is also the 17th Psalm.
Another interesting unifying characteristic of this psalm is the repeated use of parts of the body. Notice how many parts are mentioned:
Hear My Cry!
This psalm begins with a one verse introduction and ends with a one verse coda.
In the introduction David pleads with God to listen to his cry for help.
(Notice that we already have two physical attributes mentioned: ears and lips.)
David now asks God to test him. His words here are astounding. David claims that if God tests him, God will not find any sin.
Throughout this psalm, with one exception, the metaphor of the eyes is reserved for God. God's eye is always watching. His presence, his face, is what we seek.
David claims that God will see that his heart is true, his mouth is clean, his feet are steadfast.
I am not nearly as bold or confident in my sinless character. But I have confidence in the forgiveness of God in Christ. In Christ I am sinless and can boldly lay my needs before God and seek His help. Confess your sin and trust in the loving forgiveness we have in Christ.
As in verse 1, we turn once again to the ears of God. "I call upon You." I love the confident declaration in verse 6: "You will answer me." David knows that God will not ignore his cry for help. David has confidence in the "wonder of [God's] great love." God does hear and God does answer. Trust in God's love!
And when God hears, He responds with the power of his hand to protect us.
At the very center of the psalm we find the main theme: protect me from evil men. What is going on in your life that needs God's protection? God is listening. God is loving. God will help. Trust God.
(As a side note, it is interesting that the psalmist switches the metaphor from hand to wing in verse 8. This picture is one of the rare times that God is portrayed in a feminine manner, as a mother bird protecting her young.)
Notice Their Wickedness
David asks God to notice the evil actions of those who surround him. While David's heart is pure, their hearts are closed. David's mouth is clean, but theirs are arrogant. The psalmist's feet are steadfast, but they have used their feet to surround him. While he seeks the eyes of God, their eyes are set on destroying him.
Sometimes the people around us can cause us a lot of trouble. Sometimes we feel surrounded by those who want to destroy us. But, along with David, we can rest in the protective hand of our God.
God is David's protector. David calls upon God to "confront" the enemy - literally to be in front of his face - and knock him to his knees ("subdue him"). The evil man wanted to cast David to the ground, but God will knock him down instead. God will use his powerful hand to defeat the enemy.
Place your troubles into the hand of God. Trust God to protect you and keep you safe.
I Will See You
The psalm ends with words of confident trust. God will protect and bless those He loves. David can now rest in peace knowing that he will wake safely in the presence of God. He will see God's face.
One of the great blessings of our faith is knowing that we can always live in the presence of God. He is never far away. Whether I live or die - whether I win or lose - God is there with me and I can be satisfied in His presence.
Are you struggling? Do you feel surrounded by trouble? Then pray this prayer to God. Seek His face and trust in His love and power to protect you.