Psalm 17 – A Prayer for Help

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The people who wrote the Psalms experienced God in the midst of real life problems. In this instance the speaker faced false accusations from adversaries. You may not be in the same situation as the speaker, but you can apply the basic concepts of this Psalm to problems that you face.

Please Pay Attention to My Prayer

One of my pastor friends once prayed, “Lord, we know you are always present, but right now we need to know without a doubt that you are here.” The first verses of this Psalm cry out for a sense of God’s presence.

Listen, O Lord, to my plea for justice;
pay attention to my cry for help!
Listen to my honest prayer.
You will judge in my favor,
because you know what is right.
(Psalm 17.1-2)

This Psalm instructs us to cry out to God and to appeal to him to hear us. The foundation of faith is a belief that if God hears our prayer, then he will respond and change our circumstances.

Examine Yourself

The speaker spent time in self-examination. Then, the speaker asked God to respond to him based on a right relationship.

You know my heart.
You have come to me at night;
you have examined me completely
and found no evil desire in me.
I speak no evil,
as others do;
I have obeyed your command
and have not followed paths of violence.
I have always walked in your way
and have never strayed from it.
(Psalm 17.3-5)

Some of the ways that the speakers in the Psalms speaks of his righteousness may seem less than modest. Let’s not let that keep us from an important truth.

Prayer is most effective when we are a clean vessel through whom God can work. No matter how great the water pressure, a clogged pipe will emit a only small amount of water. Self-examination under the direction of the Holy Spirit will allow us to be able to pray with more confidence.

Confidence in Prayer

The speaker was confident in God’s willingness to answer his prayer.

I pray to you, O God, because you answer me;
so turn to me and listen to my words.
Reveal your wonderful love and save me;
at your side I am safe from my enemies.
(Psalm 17.6-7)

Jesus gave people many promises about prayer. He said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it” (John 15.7). This is but one of many promises that Jesus gave us to encourage us to pray.

The Bible is filled with examples and teaching that prayer makes a difference. Our prayers can be bold and effective, because of the great God we serve.

Protection Against Enemies

As we read verses 8-12, notice that God will protects us by placing us on the shadow of his wings.

Protect me as you would your very eyes;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the attacks of the wicked.
Deadly enemies surround me;
they have no pity and speak proudly.
They are around me now, wherever I turn,
watching for a chance to pull me down.
They are like lions, waiting for me,
wanting to tear me to pieces.
(Psalm 17.8-12)

The world’s system is full of forces, who like lions want to tear us to pieces. However, God is like a protective eagle.

Like an eagle teaching its young to fly,
catching them safely on its spreading wings,
the Lord kept Israel from falling.
(Deuteronomy 32.11)

Just as the mother eagle protects her young, God is looking out for us. There is no more secure place in this world than when we are living in a relationship with God and following his direction.

Awakened to Joy

There is a significant contrast between how different people think about the world. Some people “have in this life all they want.” Others know that a living relationship with God is the source of joy.

Come, Lord! Oppose my enemies and defeat them!
Save me from the wicked by your sword;
save me from those who in this life have all they want.
Punish them with the sufferings you have stored up for them;
may there be enough for their children
and some left over for their children’s children!
But I will see you, because I have done no wrong;
and when I awake, your presence will fill me with joy.
(Psalm 17.13-15)

As you end this Psalm, declare to God that he is your joy. Tell him that you desire a sense of his presence more than anything on earth. Praise him for the ability to talk to him and to ask him for help.

May We Pray for You?

If you email me at or private message me on Facebook, I will pray for you. I will also give your request to Maywood Baptist Church’s prayer team. They will be honored to pray for you.

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