The psalms give us a unique look into David’s soul – the soul of a man who loved God. Various psalms reveal his delight, his frustration, and the ways in which he reconciled the events in his life with what he knew of God. Psalm 17 is such a psalm.
Philip Yancey writes, “For the Hebrew poets, God represented a reality more solid than their own whipsaw emotions or the checked history of their people. They wrestled with God over every facet of their lives and in the end it was the very act of wrestling that proved their faith”.
While the historical context of Psalm 17 is not clear, the reader is left in no doubt that David’s life is under threat (v7, 10-12) and with the confidence of his right standing before God, he partitions the Lord to judge the charges that had been brought against him and that righteousness would prevail and he would be delivered.
David’s first concern is to plead his innocence, opening himself to God’s scrutiny (v1-5). But God is not just judge, He also expresses love in His acts of care and protection for those who are dear to him (see Deuteronomy 32:10-12).
As in several other of the psalms penned by David, he calls out to God as his refuge and deliverer in times of peril (v7, 13-14).
The wicked may have some reward in this life but not the life to come. In contrast, David expresses his conviction that he will behold God’s face in righteousness. At that time he will be fully satisfied.
All of us who have put our faith in Jesus have this same hope of seeing Christ face to face and being with Him throughout all eternity.