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PSALM 17

A Prayer of David.

  1. Hear justice, O jehovah, attend to my cry; give ear to my prayers, that proceed not from deceitful lips.
  2. Let my judgement come forth from your presence; let your eyes look upon rectitude.
  3. You have proved my heart; you have visited me by night; you have tried me: you find no wicked device in me; my mouth transgresses not.
  4. As for the doings of man: by the word of your lips I take heed of the ways of the violent.
  5. Sustain my steps in your paths, that my footsteps be not moved.
  6. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O god: incline your ear to me; hear my speech.
  7. Display wonderfully your mercy, O you that save those who trust in you, from them that rise up against your right hand.
  8. Keep me as the pupil of the eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings,
  9. From the wicked that oppress me; my deadly enemies who beset me round about.
  10. They are inclosed in their fat; with their mouth they speak proudly.
  11. Already have they encompassed us in our steps; they have set their eyes to bring us down to the earth.
  12. He is like a lion that is eager to tear in pieces, and as a young lion couching in secret places.
  13. Arise, O jehovah, prevent him; lay him low; deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
  14. From men, with your hand, O jehovah, from men of the world, whose portion is in life, and whose belly you fill with your treasure: who feed to the full their children, and leave their residue to their little ones.
  15. As for me, in justice shall I see your face; I shall be fed to the full, when I awake, with your image.

The Internal Sense

The lord concerning the integrity of his life, verses 15; through the Divine principle within him, verse 6; whereby he is supported against the wicked who rise up against him, verses 6-10; and desire to kill him, verses 11, 12; by whom, nevertheless, he cannot be hurt, verse 13; who are, notwithstanding, in possession of the Word, verse 14; that he shall be glorified, verse 15.

Exposition

Verse 8. Hide me under the shadow of your wings. That wings signify the divine spiritual principle, which in its essence is truth derived from good, may be manifest from the following passages: "god rode upon a cherub, he did fly; he was carried on the wings of the wind;" Psalm 18:10. god rode upon a cherub, signifies the Divine Providence of the lord; he did fly, signifies omnipresence in the spiritual world; carried on the wings of the wind, signifies omnipresence in the natural world: the wings of the wind are spiritual things from which natural things are derived. Hence it it is also evident what is signified by being hidden under the wings of god; Psalm 17:8; by trusting in the shadow of his wings; Psalm 57:2; also, what by singing under the shadow of his wings; Psalm 63:7. That wings, when applied to the lord, signify the divine spiritual principle, is further manifest from the following passages: "When I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold your time was the time of love; and I spread my wing over you, and covered your nakedness;" Ezekiel 16:8; speaking of Jerusalem, by which is signified the church, in this passage concerning its reformation: the time of love signifies the state when it might be reformed; I spread my wing over you, signifies spiritual truth, by which reformation was effected; I covered your nakedness, signifies by it, the concealment of evil; for evil, which man has hereditarily, and afterwards from the proprium or self-hood, is concealed, that is, is removed, so as not to appear, by spiritual truths, which are truths derived from good. So in David: "Who cover yourself with light as with a garment; who stretch out the heavens like a curtain: who lays the beams of his chambers in the waters: who makes the clouds his chariot: who walks on the wings of the wind;" Psalm 104:2, 3, 4. By the light with which jehovah covers himself, is signified Divine Truth in the heavens, which is called his garment, because it proceeds from Him as a sun, and is thus out of and around Him; by this the like is signified as by the light and clothing of the lord when he was transfigured; Matt 17:2; Mark 9:3; Luke 9:28 to 37: who stretch out the heavens like a curtain, signifies to fill with divine truth, and by it with intelligence, those who are there: to lay the beams of his chambers in the waters, signifies to fill with the knowledge of truth and good, those who are in the ultimate heaven, and who are in the church: to make the clouds his chariot, signifies the doctrine of truth from the literal sense of the Word: a cloud is that sense, and a chariot is doctrine: to walk on the wings of the wind, signifies the spiritual sense which is in the literal sense. AE 283.

Verse 10. They are inclosed in their fat. Inasmuch as by fat and fatness was signified the good of love, and as all worship, which is truly worship, must be from the good of love, therefore it was appointed that all the fat in the sacrifices should be burnt upon the altar; Exodus 29:13, 22; Lev 1:8; for by the sacrifices and burnt-offerings was signified worship. Since the Jewish and Israelitish nation was only in external worship, and not, at the same time, in internal worship, and consequently was not in any good of love, nor in any good of charity and faith, therefore it was prohibited them to eat the fat and blood, and it was declared, that if they should eat them, they would be cut off; Lev 3:17. But to those who are in internal worship, and thence in external worship, such as they are to be, who should be of the lord's new church, it is said, that they should eat fat to satiety, and drink blood to inebriety ; Ezekiel 39:19. By fat is there signified all the good of heaven and the church, and by blood, all the truth thereof. In the opposite sense, by the fat ones are signified those who nauseate good, or who at least despise or reject it, as in Psalm 17:10, They are inclosed, in their fat. See Deut 32:15; Jer 5:28. AE 1159.

Verse 14. Whose belly you fill with your treasure: who feed to the full their children, and, leave their residue to their little ones. By treasure is signified the truth of the Word; by the belly, interior understanding; hence, by filling their belly with treasure, is signified to instruct their interior understanding with the truths of the Word; that hence, they who are affected with truths are fully instructed, is signified by their children being fed to the full,children [sons] signifying those who are in the affection of truths; and as their little ones signify nascent truths, of them it is said, that they leave their residue to their little ones: it is said the interior understanding; for there appertains to man exterior understanding and interior; the exterior understanding is of the natural mind, and the interior understanding is of the spiritual mind: the interior understanding is signified by the belly; so in John: "jesus said, if any one thirst, let him come to me and drink: whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This he said of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive;" John 7:37, 38, 39. Thus the lord describes, divine truth, interiorly perceived by those who are in the spiritual affection of truth: these are understood by those who thirst, and come to the lord and drink: that they have the understanding of divine truth, is signified by rivers of living water flowing out of their belly: rivers from the belly are understanding, or interior intelligence, and living water is divine truth from the lord. By the Holy Spirit is meant the divine truth proceeding from the lord, it is said, that This he said of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; and in Mark: "Whatsoever thing from without enters into a man, cannot defile him, because it enters not into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the drain, purging all meats: but that which comes out of the man, this defiles the man; for within, out of the heart of man, proceed," etc; Mark 7:18, 19, 20; Matt 15:17, 18, 19, 20. These words are thus to be understood; that all things, whether they be false or evil, which flow into the thought of the understanding from what is seen and heard, and not into the affection of the will, do not affect and infect the man, since the thought of man's understanding, so far as it does not proceed from the affection of his will, is not in the man but out of him, wherefore it is not appropriated to him: the same in the case with truth and good. These things the lord teaches by correspondences, saying, that "what enters by the mouth into the belly, does not defile a man, since it does not enter into the heart, for that which enters into the belly is cast out into the drain;" by which is meant, that what enters from without, or outwardly, whether it be from the objects of sight, or from the objects of discourse, or from the objects of memory, into the thought of man's understanding, does not render him unclean, but (so far as it is not of his affection or will) is separated and cast out, like what is taken by the belly, into the drain. These spiritual things the lord explains by natural things, since meats, which are taken by the mouth, and are let down into the belly, signify such things as man imbibes spiritually for the nourishment of the soul. Hence it is that the belly corresponds to the thought of the understanding, and also signifies it. AE 622

The Translator's Notes and Observations

Verses 1, 2. Hear justice, O jehovah; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayers, that proceed not from deceitful lips. Let my judgement come forth from your presence. Justice and judgement are here, it is manifest, the grand objects of the prayer of the Psalmist, who is eager to receive those Divine and heavenly principles from their proper Divine Source, the god of justice and of judgement, But justice, as must be obvious to every enlightened mind, has more immediate reference to the Divine Will, or love of god, whilst judgement relates principally to the Divine wisdom, or love of truth, and both united to the union of such love and wisdom; on which account the two terms, justice and judgement, are found to be so frequently combined together in the volume of Revelation. In the above prayer then of the Psalmist, we are again delighted with the interesting discovery, that the union of love and wisdom, or of the good and the true, forms a distinguished feature in the Divine testimony contained in that volume. In the above prayer too we are taught the edifying lesson, that justice and judgement ought never to be separated, since each is necessary to the existence of the other, justice being a mere nothing without judgement, and judgement a mere nothing without justice; in like manner as charity is nothing without faith, and faith is nothing without charity.

From the above words we learn, that the attention of the almighty to the wants of his children is of three degrees, which are here expressed by hearing, attending to, and giving ear to; and that the first degree is excited by the principle of justice, or by the want of this principle in the will, as it is discovered by man; the second is excited by a cry, which is nothing but an eager exertion of man's understanding to attain that principle; and the third is excited by prayer, which is a joint effect of the will and understanding united for the purpose of attaining what they want. What an attention should this consideration excite on the part of man, to explore well the purposes of his will and the thoughts of his understanding whenever he prays!

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