Psalms 17 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Psalmist and his companions ( Psa 17:11) are beset by proud and pitiless enemies, bent upon their destruction. One among them is conspicuous for the virulence of his hostility ( Psa 17:12). Such an occasion in David’s life is described in 1Sa 23:25 ff., when “Saul pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon … and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.” The thoughts and language of the Psalm find parallels in Davidic Psalms, especially 7 and 11. Many critics however refer this Psalm as well as 16 to a much later period. Ewald places them in the Exile.
The links of connexion between this Psalm and Psalms 16 should be studied. Compare Psa 17:3 with Psa 16:7; Psa 17:5 with Psa 16:11; Psa 16:8; Psa 17:6 with Psa 16:1 ( God = El); Psa 17:7 with Psa 16:1; Psa 16:10 (one who has taken refuge in Jehovah naturally appeals to the Saviour of those that take refuge in Him; Jehovah’s beloved one ( châsid) naturally pleads for the manifestation of His chesed or lovingkindness); Psa 17:14 with Psa 16:5 (the contrast between the portion of the worldly and that of the Psalmist). The ground of appeal in 17 is that integrity of devotion which inspires 16; in both Psalms communion with Jehovah is set forth as the highest joy; Psa 17:15 re-echoes Psa 16:9-11. Cp. ‘I shall be satisfied’ (Psa 17:15) with ‘satisfying fulness’ (Psa 16:11). But the tone of the two Psalms presents a striking contrast, and points to the difference in the Psalmist’s circumstances. In 16 danger is in the background: the Psalm breathes a spirit of calm repose and joyous serenity. In 17 danger is pressing, and help is urgently needed. The faith of calmer days is being put to the proof.
The Psalm may be divided thus:
i. Appeal to Jehovah for justice on the ground of the petitioner’s integrity (Psa 17:1-5).
ii. Prayer for protection on the ground of Jehovah’s relation to him, enforced by a description of the virulence of his enemies (Psa 17:6-12).
iii. Reiterated prayer for Jehovah’s help, and contrast between the contentment of these men with their material blessings and his own longing for the closest communion with God (Psa 17:13-15).
A prayer of David is a fitting title for this Psalm. Cp. Psa 17:1, and Introd. p. xv.
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".