A prayer of David.
Pay attention to my cry for help!
Listen to the prayer
I sincerely offer! 3
Decide what is right! 5
you have examined me during the night. 7
You have carefully evaluated me, but you find no sin.
I am determined I will say nothing sinful. 8
just as you have commanded,
I have not followed in the footsteps of violent men. 10
I do not deviate from them. 12
17:6 I call to you for you will answer me, O God.
Listen to me! 13
Hear what I say! 14
you who powerfully deliver those who look to you for protection from their enemies. 16
Hide me in the shadow of your wings! 18
1 sn Psalm 17. The psalmist asks God to intervene on his behalf because his life is threatened by dangerous enemies. He appeals to divine justice, for he is certain of his own innocence. Because he is innocent, he expects to encounter God and receive an assuring word.
2 tn Heb “hear,
3 tn Heb “Listen to my prayer, [made] without lips of deceit.”
4 tn Heb “From before you may my justice come out.” The prefixed verbal form יָצָא (yatsa’) could be taken as an imperfect, but following the imperatives in v. 1, it is better understood as a jussive of prayer.
5 tn Heb “May your eyes look at what is right.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as jussive. (See also the preceding note on the word “behalf.”)
6 tn Heb “you tested my heart.”
7 tn Heb “you visited [at] night.”
8 tc Heb “you tested me, you do not find, I plan, my mouth will not cross over.” The Hebrew verbal form זַמֹּתִי (zammotiy) is a Qal perfect, first person singular from the root זָמַם (zamam, “plan, plan evil”). Some emend the form to a suffixed form of the noun, זִמָּתִי (zimmatiy, “my plan/evil plan”), and take it as the object of the preceding verb “find.” However, the suffix seems odd, since the psalmist is denying that he has any wrong thoughts. If one takes the form with what precedes, it might make better sense to read זִמּוֹת (zimmot, “evil plans”). However, this emendation leaves an unclear connection with the next line. The present translation maintains the verbal form found in the MT and understands it in a neutral sense, “I have decided” (see Jer 4:28). The words “my mouth will not cross over” (i.e., “transgress, sin”) can then be taken as a noun clause functioning as the object of the verb.
9 tn Heb “with regard to the deeds of man[kind].”
10 tn Heb “by the word of your lips, I, I have watched the paths of the violent” (i.e., “watched” in the sense of “watched for the purpose of avoiding”).
11 tn Heb “my steps stay firm in your tracks.” The infinitive absolute functions here as a finite verb (see GKC 347 §113.gg). God’s “tracks” are his commands, i.e., the moral pathways he has prescribed for the psalmist.
12 tn Heb “my footsteps do not stagger.”
13 tn Heb “Turn your ear toward me.”
14 tn Heb “my word.”
15 tn Heb “Set apart faithful acts.”
16 tn Heb “[O] one who delivers those who seek shelter from the ones raising themselves up, by your right hand.” The Lord’s “right hand” here symbolizes his power to protect and deliver.
sn Those who look to you for protection from their enemies. “Seeking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear and serve the Lord (Pss 5:11-12; 31:17-20; 34:21-22).
17 tc Heb “Protect me like the pupil, a daughter of an eye.” The noun בַּת (bat, “daughter”) should probably be emended to בָּבַת (bavat, “pupil”). See Zech 2:12 HT (2:8 ET) and HALOT 107 s.v. *בָּבָה.
18 sn Your wings. The metaphor compares God to a protective mother bird.