Psalm 17: What Satisfies You?

Psalm 17:1-15 V15 “….I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness” What satisfies you, what makes you content. What is it that satisfies the righteous person and what satisfies the unsaved. Different things satisfy either category. The righteous and the unsaved, they are both looking for different things out of life, their goals and desires. Their purpose in living is vastly different.

What satisfies you points to what you are: righteous or ungodly. This psalm is a prayer of David, the king of Jerusalem, the greatest historic king of Israel. In this prayer David compares the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly. It is good to take stock and ask what are we, it is good to measure ourselves according to the scriptures. Am I growing in grace, am I becoming more like Christ,  do I love the Lord more, do I trust him more, do I love his word more, is he more precious to me. 2 Peter 3:14-18. “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you: as also in all his epistles speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scripture, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen“. . Are we growing, are we really on the narrow way.

Let us examine ourselves in the light of this psalm. What satisfies us?

1. The Godly –
V1 “Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” The Godly person does not pray with feigned (deceitful) lips. If you have told a lie, the last thing you want to do is pray. You will avoid prayer because you are not right with God. Prayer is not the favorite pastime for those with deceitful lips. The person who prays often has short accounts with God and therefore their lives will not be deceitful. The righteous person wants justice, fairness.
V2 “Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal” A just person is a fair person. A righteous person does not make excuses for evil doers nor justifies sin. They ask for nothing but fairness.
V3 “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” A righteous person is someone who is tested by God. David was tested. There is the dark night of the soul when God tests the righteous.
V4-5 “Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Hold up my goings in thy paths that my footsteps slip not.” A righteous person is kept by God’s word, by God himself.
V6 “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.” A righteous person is heard by God. The Lord hears the prayer of the righteous, but if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
V7 “Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.” The righteous person is saved. The right hand means strength, he saves those who trust in him. The righteous person is someone to whom God shows kindness, marvelous loving kindness.
V8 “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” The righteous person is kept as the apple of God’s eye, they are protected and loved by God. They shelter under the shadow of his wing. Is that you?

2. The wicked, the man of the world – the wicked V9-14
V9 “from the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.” The wicked are the deadly enemy of the righteous, they oppress the righteous. They totally surround the righteous, isn’t that true? its always been true.
V10a They are enclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.” The wicked are prosperous. They are enclosed in their own fat. (best, good) They are surrounded by the best. Materialism and prosperity, that is what they want and that is what they get.

Psalm 73:12 “Behold these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” There are exceptions but they are exceptions: David, Solomon but God made them prosperous, they did not make themselves prosperous because it is the wicked that are enclosed in riches in this world. It is very, very hard to make yourself rich and yet remain pure in this world. To get all in this world you quite often have to put up with a lot of sin, you have to break God’s law, lie, use people. You sometimes have to compromise your position. It’s easy for riches to possess you, but its hard for you to possess riches. That is why Jesus said “how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” These things also possess the people and God’s son says it is very hard for that type of a person to enter into God’s kingdom. V10b The ungodly speak proudly, proud speech is a sign of the wicked. They boast. With their mouth they speak proudly out of the abundance of their heart

V11 “They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;” The righteous are surrounded by the wicked and they infringe upon the righteous. Their eyes, their vision are bowing down to the earth,all they see is this world, their whole view is the here and now. Totally materialistic.
V12 “Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.” Like a lion they hunt for everything the world gives.
V13-14 “Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.” The wicked are the pawns of God. God uses the wicked to fulfill his plan as King Nebuchednezzar. The wicked are God’s tools to chasten his people for a time. Is that you? which are you?

3. what satisfies either group – is it the same thing? Is it “believe in Jesus” and continue on and enjoy the same things and you can hardly tell the difference but one is saved and one is not. V14 Spurgeon says “they are mere dwellers in this narrow sphere of mortality, having no hopes or wishes beyond the ground on which they tread.” Its all to do with filling their belly, their children and the wills they leave. Satisfied with their portion in this life, full of children. The hope of men has always been that they have children to carry on their name. That satisfies the person of this world. There is nothing wrong with children, having a will, but to be completely satisfied with that is not enough. To be completely satisfied with those things and leave God completely out of it, that is not enough. It maybe enough for the wicked but it’s not enough for the righteous. What satisfies the righteous?
V15 “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” The righteous person has a higher goal in life, they are not satisfied with material prosperity nor with children to prolong their name, nor with passing on their things to their children.. The righteous goal and desire goes beyond these things into eternity, and the righteous says “as for me, I will behold God’s face in righteousness, I will be righteous before God.” When God’s face turns towards a person, they are blessed. David says “I shall” not yet, this is future. There is only one thing that will satisfy the righteous person and that is to awake with the likeness of Jesus. To be changed from what we are to what we shall be is the only thing that satisfies the righteous.

Are you satisfied the way you are? if you are there is something wrong with you. In a righteous person there is always a strong desire which will only reach ultimate satisfaction when we awake with him. We have the things of earth, these are God’s blessing, we do not covet them or go after them, bu they do not satisfy, they are not our goal. Imagine having something as your goal which is ultimately dust. Christians are different, they have a higher goal than dust, and that is what distinguishes the righteous from the wicked in this world. You know it, and you know if you are righteous or wicked. Have you that desire for God? What will satisfy you as time goes on? Are you different from the world.

“Hope fills the afflicted soul with such inward joy and consolation that it can laugh when tears are in the eye.” “nothing is more unbecoming of a heavenly hope than an earthly heart.”


This post is based on notes I made from a sermon by Rev. Paul Dowling of Whiteabbey Congrational (Reformed). Link to the sermon follows:


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