READ: Psalm 17
BACKGROUND: This is a prayer of David where he appeals to God as the righteous judge who will protect him from attack from ungodly enemies. Interestingly enough, this particular psalm reflects a number of the traditional Hebrew forms & phrases for a judicial appeal before the king himself.
1 – The idea here is not that God will answer the prayer because David is so amazingly righteous. Instead, David is saying that the cause is true and just – that he isn’t just making it up.
8 – The idea of shade being protective – i.e. “the shadow of your wings” – is very powerful for a people who live in a desert climate. Ancient Near Eastern kings were sometimes referred to as the “shade” for their subjects.
15 – The idea of seeing God’s face when he awakes is a reference to waking from the sleep of death and dwelling with God in heaven. This stands out in direct contrast to his wicked accusers “whose reward is in this world” in verse 14. David knows where his ultimate hope lies.
THINK: One of my favorite memories of elementary school occurred when I was in 5th grade. My class was in the library, and the geezer librarian told us all that our assignment for the day was to pick out a fiction book and check it out. So, everybody walked around and got their books and I went back to my normal section – the one with biographies of famous sports stars – and I picked out a book about NFL Hall of Famers. When I brought it up to check out she told me that I couldn’t check that book out because it wasn’t fiction. So, I put it back and grabbed a book about dinosaurs. When I brought that one up to check out she again – sounding more annoyed this time – told me I needed a fiction book and I couldn’t check that book out. At that point, I decided that if a book wasn’t about dinosaurs of football players I didn’t really care to read it, so I walked over, picked a random book from the shelf and brought it up to check out. I don’t remember anything about that book except this: it was not a fiction book. I hadn’t done it on purpose – I just wanted to check out – but at that point the geezer librarian had a panic attack. She freaked out that I hadn’t brought up a fiction book yet, and made a girl in my class named Kate show me where the fiction section was. I promptly, and without looking, grabbed the nearest book and took it up to her. Honestly, I just wanted to check out and I wasn’t trying to bother her, but the fact that I didn’t spend the time to choose carefully set her off even more.
The reason I’ll always remember this story isn’t the angry geezer librarian though. It’s because when we got back to our classroom Mr. Logsdon looked at me and said, “Mike, you shouldn’t give the librarian such a hard time. She’s old. You can’t mess with her or she gets grumpy.” I had been falsely accused! Those of you who know me, I’m sure, have your doubts about whether I was messing with that old lady on purpose, but I wasn’t! Honestly, it just kinda happened. And I didn’t want to be falsely accused. So I told Mr. Logsdon, “No, I wasn’t messing with her. I didn’t mean to make her so upset.” Well, knowing me, Mr. Logsdon also had his doubts. So he looked at me and said – with a smile on his face – “Yes, you did.” And then I couldn’t help myself. Even though it really had been an accident, I started thinking about how grumpy I made that old lady, and I just cracked up and started laughing. Then the whole class started laughing. And because I laughed, everybody – including Mr. Logsdon – thought I’d messed with her on purpose. And I felt bad later because it was a false accusation.
Frankly, most of the time when we’re falsely accused it hurts a lot more – and does more long-term damage – than it did during my 5th grade library visit. It can destroy relationships and reputations. It can make us feel small and insignificant and lonely. Being lied about is one of the most painful things in the world. But there is good news for us. God loves us and protects us and defends us! That doesn’t mean that he will always smite the liars and make them pay – at least not in the way we wish he would when we get hurt – but it does mean that we have an incredible hope in all of life’s difficulties. He is our shelter and our comfort and we know – whether we ever get to see justice served to our accusers in this life – that one day he will make all things new and set all things right. That’s a comforting thought amidst the storms of life!
PRAY: Ask God to be your refuge and strength in difficult times when you’ve been unjustly accused or lied about. Ask him to help you trust him.