Psalm 17

Psalm 17

No doubt the covenant looms large behind this plea of the psalmist. The word is not mentioned, but the psalmist is obviously motivated by his conviction that God will always be faithful to his promises. That is why the psalmist begs for “justice.” God manifests his justice when he lives up to the covenant. The words “vindication” and “love” point in the same direction.

On his part, the psalmist maintains that he has been faithful to the covenant. He prays. He does what is right. His heart is open to God. He has no malice. He keeps “the way of the law.” Therefore he prays with confidence that God will rescue him from his ravenous enemies.

The psalm is probably prayed in the temple. The reference to God’s wings recalls the cherubim’s wings over the ark of the covenant. “Let me see your face” suggests that the psalmist is looking toward God in the temple. “When I awake, let me be filled with your presence” suggests that the psalmist has spent the night in the temple.

Jesus could have used this psalm often as he faced his enemies. We can say these words as well—not because we are innocent of wrongdoing, but because Jesus makes our prayer his own. Because of his loving forgiveness and the gift of his Spirit, God the Father will hear our pleas.

Photo: Matt Banks /


About the Author

Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M., after ordination in 1955, did further studies in Scripture. He taught Scripture to seminarians for 15 years. He has been editor of Sunday Homily Helps for more than 25 years.