Psalm 17

Psalm 17

Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm :

Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉 

Breath Prayer:  I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often.  Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise.  This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine.  Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.  

I did a breath prayer video for my friends at Missing Peace.


The lectionary suggests Psalm 17:8-14(15), not the entire Psalm, so I want to focus the reflection time on what it means to see God’s face or to be in God’s presence. Perhaps prayer is being aware of the presence of God wherever we are. So what does it mean to be present in God’s presence? What does it mean to pray?

“Prayer to me is anything we do that opens our heart, mind and soul to the always-with-us presence of Sacred Cosmic Mystery Creator with the intention to give thanks for gifts of grace in our lives. And in connecting with the infinite light and love of Spirit, we are asking to be used as a channel for those gifts into the world, sending God/Goddess Love into others without attachment to a result.” Tom Pinkson, in “How do you Pray?” edited by Celest Yacoboni

“My belief that God is love–that love is everything, our true destiny–sustains me. I affirm these beliefs through daily meditation and prayer, through contemplation and service, through worship and loving kindness. …. All awakening to love is spiritual awakening.” Bell Hooks, All About Love

“The longer I practice prayer, the more I think it is something that is always happening, like a radio wave that carries music through the air whether I tune in or not.” Barbara Brown Taylor, An Alter in the World

Let us pray:

God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your presence and release my distractions. You can always pick different words for your breath prayer. But the idea of a breath prayer is to keep it simple so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale.

Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

Sources and notes:

The lectionary suggests Psalm 17:8-14(15), not the entire Psalm.

Psalm 17 “is composed of petitions for deliverance (vv. 1-2, 6-9), a plea of innocence (vv. 3-5), a description of the adversaries and a petition for their defeat (vv. 10-12, 13-14), and a concluding assertion of trust.” Mays p. 89

“The concluding statement of confidence (v. 15) makes it clear how important the relation to God is in the theology of these prayers. Their purpose is not simply to gain relief from dangers and difficulty. The real trouble with the trouble reflected in these prayers is that one’s relations to God is troubled. Deliverance not only brings relief but restores a sense of acceptance and communion. Acceptance bestows righteousness. Communion occurs in the experience of the presence. The prayer anticipates an answer given as a vision of the form o fate presence (face) of the LORD. The vision will convey justification; ti will be a sign of the acceptance that makes the relation to God right. “The upright shall behold his face” (11;7; see Matt. 5:8). Just how the vision of the presence occurred is not known. Israel was forbidden to make any likeness of the LORD in the form of an image (Exod. 20:4; Deut. 5:8). But Moses and the elders “saw the God of Israel” in the ritual meal that concluded the Sinai covenant. Moses as officiant in the tent-tabernacle “beheld the form of the LORD” (Num. 12:8). In the psalms there are references to seeing God or the face of God in the temple (e.g., 42:2; 63:2; 3:7-9). There is a seeing that comes with prayer and waiting that transcends what eye can behold.” Mays pp. 89-90

“In Christian interpretation there is along tradition that sees a reference to the resurrection in verse 15. “When I awake from the sleep of death, my life will be finally fulfilled when I see God.” In the context of Israel’s religion, “when I awake” may have referred to a ritual of spending the night at the holy place after prayer for help waiting for the propitious time of the morning. But the verse can be read with a second sense, because it is only the resurrection to be with the LORD that brings the final and full justification of the life of the faithful.” Mays p. 90

“There may be other ways that Israel and we see God–in momentous historical events, like the exodus or the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, or in daily rituals that sustain and nourish, or in the faces of friends and loved ones, or in the faces of strangers, who may be among the least of our sisters and brothers. In any case, the psalmist is convinced of and apparently transformed by the possibility of experiencing unbroken communion with God. The psalmist anticipates the expertise hat Jesus proclaimed: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt. 5:8 NRSV). Christian tradition has interpreted v. 15 as a reference to the resurrection. While the psalmist probably had no doctrine of resurrection, her or his language pushes toward the notion of a communion with God that nothing –not even death– can interrupt” NIB p. 348

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

Other Year D Psalm blog posts:

I’m attempting a series exploring the Psalms in year D.  Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  

I began this series in Lent 2020.  These blog posts include examples of meditation or spiritual discipline or mindfulness exercises.  Here are the links: Ash Wednesday: Psalm 102; 1st Sunday in Lent: Psalm 6; 2nd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 143; 3rd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 38; 4th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 39; 5th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 101; 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35.  I went a different direction during Holy Week and dropped the Psalms for a while, but I’m hoping to pick them back up again. 

I’m going to try to move forward with the Psalms so that it might be useful for worship in the coming weeks and hoping that I can also go back and pick up some of the ones I missed.  

Holy Week: Palm Sunday, 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35, Maundy Thursday Psalm 115 or 113, Good Friday Psalm 88, Holy Saturday (Great Vigil) Psalms 7, 17, 44, 57 or 108, 119:145-176, 149.

The Season of Easter: Resurrection of the Lord (Easter) Psalm 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76, 2nd Sunday in Easter Psalm 64 or Psalm 119:73-96, 3rd Sunday in Easter Psalm 60 or 108, 4th Sunday in Easter Psalm 10, 5th Sunday in Easter Psalm 49: (1-12) 13-20, 6thSunday in Easter Psalm 129, Ascension Thursday Psalm 119:145-176, 7th Sunday in Easter Psalm 115, and Pentecost Sunday Psalm 119:113-136.

Then we move into “ordinary time” which is broken up into sections throughout the liturgical year.  Remember that the year starts with Advent (I started this adventure in Lent) so some of the ordinary Sundays have already happened.

Trinity -Ordinary Time- Christ the King: Trinity Sunday Psalm 35, 9th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 142, 10th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 74, 11th Sunday Psalm 7, 12th Sunday Psalm 55, 13th Sunday Psalm 56, and 14th Sunday Psalm 57 or Psalm 3.

The Apocalyptic Discourse 15th -19th Sundays in Ordinary time: 15th Sunday Psalm 17:8-14(15) or Psalm 83, 16th Sunday Psalm 54, 17th Sunday Psalm 50 or Psalm 105, 18thSunday Psalm 59, and 19th Sunday Psalm 37.

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