“As for me, I shall be vindicated and shall see your face; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
Psalm 17: 15
This Psalm is a prayer attributed to David. It is not linked to a specific time or event. Our studies in the Old Testament last year showed us that there were many times and occasions in which David might have said and written this prayer (such as his persecution from Saul). As we unpack this Psalm it may help to think of one such incident in David’s life.
In many Psalms we find a particular pattern. The Psalmist raises an issue with God. There is agony and patent honesty. Then as the matter is put before God, and the focus changes to God, the Psalmist finds peace and confidence anew before the matter is resolved in actuality. We see this pattern in today’s Psalm. The Psalm seems to be a night time prayer; God, examines David’s heart ‘at night,’ (3), and David will find peace when he ‘awakes,’ (15). We can imagine David lying awake in a state of fretfulness and anxiety, unable to sleep. He raises his just cause before God and compares his ways with those of his oppressors. He describes his faithfulness to God and then describes God’s love, faithfulness and power. Having made his case and petition he finds peace and renewed confidence.
It is noteworthy that the difference between David and his oppressors is found in the condition of their hearts and whether or not they walk in God’s ways. David’s heart belongs to God. God examines David who resolves to walk in God’s way asking Him to direct his paths and highlight any sin in his life; David’s vindication comes from God not himself. The oppressors have callous hearts and arrogant mouths (10) who are wicked, violent and of this world; their reward will be in this world alone (4, 9 & 14). David’s peace and confidence comes from a right relationship with God and faith filled trust (8&13).
All of us have burdens, questions and trials at different times in our lives. Many of us will struggle to sleep because of our burdens. This Psalm (and indeed the whole bible!) shows us that clear, simple and open honesty with God is the first step to peace and freedom. This honesty and openness needs to be within a wonderful relationship with God, our hearts are to belong to Him. Our righteousness, rightness with God, does not come from ourselves but with a relationship purchased by Jesus Christ; He is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5: 21). As we lay our fears, concerns and petitions before God we can then focus on Him. His love, power and majesty come into view and our perspective on our worries is rightly changed. We find peace and freedom from fear, before the matter is dealt with in reality, because we have found God. We then find sleep and awake in peace, confident in God and ready to face the day (15)!!
The Question of Application
Can you find and then see God through your worries and fears? What promise in Scripture can you lay hold of and pray in faith?
God of truth and justice, watch over us, your people, in adversity, that we may know the wonders of your love and see the glory of your presence; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (Christian Sermons and Audio books, John Newton)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.