I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words. Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.
In the midst of suffering and disappointment in our lives, faith can be very difficult to hold on to. When we hear someone say, “life just isn’t fair,” we want to cry out, “Well, it should be!” Life is full of ups and downs, valleys and mountain tops, trials and accomplishments. Psalm 17 is a prayer of deliverance from those moments in our lives where we feel that life is no longer fair. It is a prayer for freedom to live into God’s righteousness and for God to come and surround us with his wings of protection and grace. While life is not fair all the time, it is right at all times to pray for God to deliver us from the wrong doings in our lives and the suffering we endure.
Additionally, there is something else in this psalm that can help us in our daily lives:
Once, while reading through some of the psalms with a few peers, a friend of mine remarked that there is often a lot of language about enemies in the psalms and he was unsure what to make of it. What does the psalmist mean with “my deadly enemies who surround me?” And then he made a statement that I will never forget: “We often read the psalms as if they were written for us individually and we forget about others who need to pray these words. Maybe we need to remember that we might be the enemies that the psalm prays about for other people.”
So, the next time you find yourself in a valley of your life, come back to Psalm 17. Read the words and pray them aloud. Know that it is a good and wonderful thing to be able to call out to the God who loves you to help deliver you out of troubling circumstances. But, the next time you find yourself on a mountaintop, ask yourself if you have been living faithfully according to God’s holy word. Is there someone praying for deliverance from an enemy that may in fact be you?