Psalm 17

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Psalm 17

When we read this Psalm, it is easy for us to falsely identify with the opening verses.  David cries out to the Lord in despair and begins to list off his own innocence, reminding the Lord of all the things he has done right.  He is bold enough to pray for God to judge him.  He is able to be bold because he knows that his relationship with God is currently in good standing (obviously this prayer wasn’t written when he was entangled with the story we know about Bathsheba).

In verse 3, we find the key to this.  David exclaims how he has sought the Lord’s guidance and purity.  He has asked God to test his heart and make him whole.  He has examined his own ways with God’s help to be sure that he is in the right.  How often do we do this? I think that there are times in everyone’s life where we can easily recognize when we have done something wrong, but how often do we evaluate ourselves?  How often do we examine our heart to not only evaluate our actions, but the reason why we do what we do?  It’s easy to “do right” but it isn’t easy to “feel right”.  Sometimes we simply do what we think is right in the hopes of God giving us a gold star for the day.  We are called to be obedient out of love for the Lord and His people, not so we get a pat on the back.  Serving others for our own good is still selfishness!

Yet David seeks a pure heart and asks God to examine him!  Are we courageous enough to do so?  If we do, what will God find?  How will we deal with it?  Do we avoid these types of prayers because we already know what our heart condition is?  Jesus’ ministry was all about us checking our heart condition.  He encouraged us to be honest with ourselves and honest with God so that He will cleanse us of our iniquity.  Even though the initial process might be a little painful, it will bless us in the end because then we can confidently approach God’s throne knowing that He will hear our cry and fulfill our request.

This might seem a little like I’m saying that we should purify ourselves so we can get whatever we want.  The key element to this, however, is that when our hearts our pure, we want what God wants.  If our heart desires what God desires, then we know that He will give us what we ask because it is exactly what He wants us to ask for!  David asks for refuge from a sinful world.  He asks that the Lord would not forsake or abandon him.

As David goes on to detail the characteristics of his enemies, we see that they have become enemies because of their lack of openness to God.  They are prideful.  Their hearts are closed off.  They seek violence and are bloodthirsty.  They seek only what this world has to offer for a short time instead of what God has to offer for eternity.  When we do not ask for God to examine and test our hearts, when we refuse to be vulnerable and ask for the Lord to change our ways, when we close our heart to His correction, this is the path we choose.

Seeking purity of heart is not an easy task.  It is downright scary if you have never done it before in your life.  If you have done it before, you might find yourself avoiding it because you know what you have to admit.  Remember that pride is what causes us to avoid it, but once we do, there comes a blessing of peace that surpasses all understanding.  The world tells us to fight and protect ourselves for our own.  God tells us to surrender to Him and we don’t have to worry about a thing.  What will you choose today?

I invite you to take a few minutes and surrender yourself to God.  Ask Him to examine and test your heart.  Allow yourself to let go of the hurts, the attitudes, the emotions deep in your heart that prevent you from growing in your relationship with Him.  He already knows what is going on in your life, but He wants you to share with Him.  Experience the peace of His grace and love as you share with Him what is hurting you and causing you to be distant with Him.  Then feel His presence envelop you as you take refuge in His strength and mercy.  You are safe.  You are loved.  You are His.

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