Whom Do You Resemble?
Hear the just (righteous) cause, O Lord; listen to my loud [piercing] cry;Listen to my prayer, that comes from guileless lips. Let my verdict of vindication come from Your presence;May Your eyes look with equity and behold things that are just. You have tried my heart;You have visited me in the night;You have tested me and You find nothing [evil in me];I intend that my mouth will not transgress. Concerning the deeds of men, by the word of Your lipsI have kept away from the paths of the violent. My steps have held closely to Your paths;My feet have not staggered. I have called upon You, for You, O God, will answer me;Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech. Wondrously show Your [marvelous and amazing] lovingkindness,O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right handFrom those who rise up against them. Keep me [in Your affectionate care, protect me] as the apple of Your eye;Hide me in the [protective] shadow of Your wings From the wicked who despoil and deal violently with me,My deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed their unfeeling heart [to kindness and compassion];With their mouths they speak proudly and make presumptuous claims. They track us down and have now surrounded us in our steps;They set their eyes to force us to the ground, He is like a lion eager to tear [his prey],And like a young lion lurking in hiding places. Arise, O Lord, confront him, cast him down;Save my soul from the wicked with Your sword, From men with Your hand, O Lord,From men of the world [these moths of the night] whose portion [of enjoyment] is in this life—idle and vain,And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;They are satisfied with children,And they leave what they have left [of wealth] to their children. As for me, I shall see Your face in righteousness;I will be [fully] satisfied when I awake [to find myself] seeing Your likeness.
Psalm 17: 1-15
Early in his major league career, Steve Howe, then a star pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, shared his struggle with drug addiction by recounting a favorite story which gave him hope.
A father sat reading his newspaper, but his young daughter pestered him to play. Not wanting to be interrupted, but also not wanting to hurt his little girl’s feelings, he ripped out an advertisement page with a large picture of Earth. He tore the world into small pieces and told his child, “Here, put this together and then we’ll play.” After a few minutes the child returned with the picture intact.
“How did you do that so quickly?” asked the dad.
“Easy,” said the daughter. “On the other side of the world was a picture of a man. I put the man together and the whole world fell into place.”
When David wrote Psalm 17, unlike Steve Howe, he had no life-controlling or substance-abuse problem. Prior to his personal failures David presented himself to God as a person who had it all together, whose problems were entirely someone else’s fault. The self-confident David welcomed divine examination, “Though you test me, you will find nothing.”(Psalm 17:3)
David opens Psalm 17 with a confidence in his right standing with God. No doubt this psalm was written at one of the peaks in his relationship with God. At this moment we might not be able to identify with that at all. We might say, “Well that’s certainly not me. I’m far from perfect. I don’t resemble such a person.” Truthfully, except for brief moments, no one except Christ has been able to pray Psalm 17 everyday of their lives.
While we may not be able to identify with David’s posture of purity, we can all certainly identify with the threatening circumstances he faced.
George Wood says, “When David wrote Psalm 17, he had no confidence he could solve his external problems- thus, he needed God to save him. By the time he wrote Psalm 51, after his deep moral failure, he knew he had no answer for his internal problems either- that God was his only source of help.”
Maybe your world has been broken and the pieces scattered like leaves in the wind. You might be asking how you can even find all the pieces, much less put them together again. How can you get it together with God, yourself, or others?
Looking at your broken world and playing the “only if” game won’t resolve anything. Instead look to the person of Jesus who is “ the author and finisher of our faith.” Make the prayer requests prayed by David in Psalm 17 yours.
George Wood says, “Tell the Lord what Is going on. Ask for his help. He wants to “give ear” to your prayer. Don’t be reluctant, embarrassed, or ashamed to call upon Him. He does not despise a broken and contrite heart.”
In those seasons of difficulty, one of the questions that often arises is the question of God’s love. When things aren’t going well, we tend to try to figure out why and where the blame for the troubles lie. Since Satan can’t convince us to blame God for our struggles, he turns it inward and we begin to think that because of our failure, God has turned away or that we are getting what we deserve for our conduct. Some might even think that God is punishing them and their sin has removed them from His view. In Psalm 17, David asked, “Show the wonder of your great love.” We are so blessed that God has already answered that request. Christ dying on the cross for us is the demonstration of God’s love for us. The amazing fact is that He did so even before we invited Him into our hearts. Dear Christian, if God loved you that much while you were yet a sinner, has He come to love you less now? I think not!
“ But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The final request of David in Psalm 17 is: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” The “apple of your eye” refers to the pupil. Standing close to another will allow us to see a reflection of ourselves. Every glance toward the Lord let’s me view my reflection and I hope when He sees me He sees His reflection. Standing that close and seeing our reflection reminds us that we are within God’s field of vision.
George Wood says: “Whom do you resemble? It depends on what has your primary attention- your broken private world or the Person who has the power to put you together. David affirmed: ‘And I- in righteousness I will see your face, when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” As you keep your focus on Jesus, you begin to look more and more like Him. You are the apple of His eye; keep Him as the apple of yours.”
Dr. John Thompson