The Bible

 

Psalms 17

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.

3 Thou has proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou has tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.

5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.

6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.

7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.

8 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,

9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.

10 They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.

11 They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;

12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

13 Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:

14 From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 17      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 17 is a particularly confident psalm, showing the feelings of someone who knows the Lord, who knows the ways of the Lord and who also knows the ups and downs of their own relationship with the Lord. In this psalm a lot is claimed, a lot is recognised, and a lot is scorned.

It is also unusually well written, having phrases which catch the essence of spiritual realities, phrases like ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye’, ‘They (the wicked) have closed up their fat hearts’ and ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.’ It is important for us, reading very assured statements on the part of the speaker, not to see these as arrogance or egotism, but rather as conviction and affirmation of someone who will follow the Lord.

The psalm begins, like many do, with a cry -- an appeal to the Lord. ‘Hear a just cause, O Lord, attend to my cry’. It continues, ‘Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.’ The rest of the psalm is this prayer, and its sincerity is always apparent.

The spiritual meaning of this – as with all prayer to the Lord – is far more to become aware of states and needs in ourselves, rather than to ask for things or even advise the Lord what he should be doing. This psalm is a perfect model of that understanding and outcome of prayer. (See Apocalypse Explained 695.5)

Verse 2 has the expression, ‘Let your eyes look on the things that are upright.’ This speaks to the idea that in us, there will always be a mix of what is self-seeking and what is true to the Lord. This is fact, even when our commitment to the Lord and the Word has been our constant practice for many years. Even the angels continue to go through changes in their states. (Divine Providence 223.2)

This continues on into the next verse, where the speaker several times declares that the Lord will find no evil in his heart, even, note, ‘in the night’ -- which is during temptation. The Lord sees everything as it really is; he sees our faults and self-deception, but he knows the true state of our heart and its deepest desire beyond all the changing states. (New Jerusalem 57)

This section ends with a statement ‘I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.’ Spiritually, this reminds us that our commitment to the Lord is not only to be felt and thought; it must be continually lived out in our words and actions. (Arcana Caelestia 6987)

From verse 4 to verse 12, the focus is on the works of men, as verse 4 says. It seems to be a matter of two things; first, to be kept firmly purposeful in following the Lord, and secondly, to be kept safe from the destructive attacks of the wicked. Spiritually, this is not so much to do with other people as with our own lower nature and self-interest, with which evil spirits will have a field day given the least opportunity.

Verse 5 beautifully says, ‘Uphold my steps in your paths’, and verse 8 says, ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye’ which wonderfully carry the truth that each person is looked on by the Lord as if they were the only person there is. But even our sincere wish to follow the Lord is of infinite joy to the Lord. (Arcana Caelestia 33)

The psalm ends with the momentous words, “As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.”

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 267


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 3869, 5585, 5828, 8764, 10481

Apocalypse Revealed 241, 245, 376, 624, 782


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 278, 283, 471, 622, 671, 866, 1159

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Deuteronomy 32:10

Ruth 2:12

1 Samuel 23:26, 26:9, 11

2 Samuel 22:24

1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:17

Job 16:17, 19:27, 23:10

Psalms 4:4, 10:9, 12, 16:1, 18:37, 26:2, 31:22, 36:8, 54:4, 55:2, 18, 57:2, 61:2, 5, 84:9, 86:6, 88:3, 91:4, 102:2, 119:9, 139:1, 23, 143:1

Proverbs 7:2

Jeremiah 12:3, 31:26

Matthew 5:8

Luke 16:25

1 John 3:2

Jude 1:16

Revelation 22:4

Bible Word Meanings

hear
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

right
He is said to be 'just' in a spiritual sense, who lives according to divine laws. They on the right hand being called 'just,' as...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

goeth
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

lips
'A lip' signifies doctrine. A lip,' as in Isaiah 6:3, 7, signifies the interior parts of a person, consequently, internal worship, where adoration is grounded....

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

heart
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

visited
There is a long history of using travel to round out an education, from the 19th-century “world tours” taken by Oxford and Cambridge graduates to...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

find
To not to be found any more, signifies not to rise again.

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

the Word
In general, we tend to be very aware of how knowing what's true leads to doing what is good. That starts as children, with parents...

word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

kept
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

paths
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

called
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

shew
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

Right hand
'The right hand' signifies the whole of a person regarding intellectual power, and so, regarding faith. 'To place the right hand on the head,' signifies...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

rise up
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

rise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

keep
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

Apple of the eye
"He kept him as the apple of his eye," (Deuteronomy 32:10), signifies that the Lord fights (together with man) against evils and falsities from hell.

apple
'An apple', as in Joel 1:12, signifies joy of heart from natural good derived from spiritual good.

hide
'To hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:15, signifies being in evils and in falsities...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

shadow
'The shadow is good' of the oak, poplar and elm means complacence.

wings
'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

Wicked
Swedenborg several times associates the “wicked” with “malevolence,” defines “malevolence” as “destroying good, interior and exterior,” and says that the wicked do this by disowning...

enemies
An enemy in the Bible refers to people who are in the love of evil and the false thinking that springs from evil. On a...

fat
'Fat things full of marrow,' signify goods.

speak
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

compassed
To encompass, as in Genesis 19:4, signifies to be contrary, or to attack and assault with a hostile intention.

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

bowing down
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

bowing
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

earth
'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

lion
'A lion' signifies the good of celestial love and the truth from that good.

young lion
'Whelp of a lion,' as in Genesis 49:9, denotes innocence with might. 'Whelp of a lion,' as in Deuteronomy 32:22, signifies the first part of...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

sword
A 'sword,' in the Word, signifies the truth of faith combating and the vastation of truth. In an opposite sense, it signifies falsity combating and...

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

world
The term "world" has both general and more specific meanings in the Bible, including the relatively literal sense of the natural, physical world. In more...

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

belly
'Womb,' as in Genesis 49:25, signifies the conjunction of good and truth. The term 'belly' is used where truths are being discussed, and the term...

Full
'To satiate' relates to the extent of a person's will, for good or evil.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

righteousness
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

satisfied
'What satisfies' is what nourishes the soul.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 How Does God Lead People?
The Bible lays out a path to happiness. By making God's truth our Guide and following Him we can hear His voice through friends, conscience, inspiring books or by reflecting on events we experience.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 17      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 17 is a particularly confident psalm, showing the feelings of someone who knows the Lord, who knows the ways of the Lord and who also knows the ups and downs of their own relationship with the Lord. In this psalm a lot is claimed, a lot is recognised, and a lot is scorned.

It is also unusually well written, having phrases which catch the essence of spiritual realities, phrases like ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye’, ‘They (the wicked) have closed up their fat hearts’ and ‘I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.’ It is important for us, reading very assured statements on the part of the speaker, not to see these as arrogance or egotism, but rather as conviction and affirmation of someone who will follow the Lord.

The psalm begins, like many do, with a cry -- an appeal to the Lord. ‘Hear a just cause, O Lord, attend to my cry’. It continues, ‘Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.’ The rest of the psalm is this prayer, and its sincerity is always apparent.

The spiritual meaning of this – as with all prayer to the Lord – is far more to become aware of states and needs in ourselves, rather than to ask for things or even advise the Lord what he should be doing. This psalm is a perfect model of that understanding and outcome of prayer. (See Apocalypse Explained 695.5)

Verse 2 has the expression, ‘Let your eyes look on the things that are upright.’ This speaks to the idea that in us, there will always be a mix of what is self-seeking and what is true to the Lord. This is fact, even when our commitment to the Lord and the Word has been our constant practice for many years. Even the angels continue to go through changes in their states. (Divine Providence 223.2)

This continues on into the next verse, where the speaker several times declares that the Lord will find no evil in his heart, even, note, ‘in the night’ -- which is during temptation. The Lord sees everything as it really is; he sees our faults and self-deception, but he knows the true state of our heart and its deepest desire beyond all the changing states. (New Jerusalem 57)

This section ends with a statement ‘I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.’ Spiritually, this reminds us that our commitment to the Lord is not only to be felt and thought; it must be continually lived out in our words and actions. (Arcana Caelestia 6987)

From verse 4 to verse 12, the focus is on the works of men, as verse 4 says. It seems to be a matter of two things; first, to be kept firmly purposeful in following the Lord, and secondly, to be kept safe from the destructive attacks of the wicked. Spiritually, this is not so much to do with other people as with our own lower nature and self-interest, with which evil spirits will have a field day given the least opportunity.

Verse 5 beautifully says, ‘Uphold my steps in your paths’, and verse 8 says, ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye’ which wonderfully carry the truth that each person is looked on by the Lord as if they were the only person there is. But even our sincere wish to follow the Lord is of infinite joy to the Lord. (Arcana Caelestia 33)

The psalm ends with the momentous words, “As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.”


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