Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!  From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!  You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.  With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.  My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.  I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.  Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.  Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,  from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.  They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.  They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.  He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush.  Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,  from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.  As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. (Psalm 17 ESV)
Now it Gets Personal
David now begins to describe those who are speaking evil against him. He describes his enemies. Even using this language makes the mamby-pamby, don’t offend anyone Christians get nervous. Should we really call someone an enemy? Doesn’t Jesus say, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?” True. Jesus does say pray for your enemies. He never said that you wouldn’t have any. Jesus had enemies. They were the religious elite of the day, but they were still his enemies. David also had enemies and he responds to them in a powerful way as he describes them to God.
These enemies are described as:
1. Lacking pity (merciless)
3. Eager to see harm befall the righteous
4. Ready and anxious to see the righteous fall
Have you ever had people in your life like this? I have. Growing up in ministry, and being a pastor now is an interesting experience. People watch your family with joy when things go bad. Some people stand with binoculars to their eyes, waiting to see your children sin, waiting to see you make a mistake with your words, waiting to see you forget something, miss something, make a mistake, fail in any way so they can loudly point out, “See! He is so messed up! His family is so sinful! He is such a failure!” Does any of that sound familiar? It does to David. David saw this often and the person he talks to about this is GOD.
Hope in the Psalms
It is so tempting to blast those you see waiting for you to fall so that they can feel better about themselves and cut you to ribbons. You gossip, slander and speak poorly about them because that’s the only way you can get back at them and it feels good to speak poorly about them. Resist the temptation to do that. Don’t gossip and speak poorly about those who speak poorly about you. Don’t respond poorly to those who respond poorly to you. Do what David does. PRAY! Philippians 4:4-7 is a great place to start thinking about these ideas. Do so.