Psalms – Chapter 17

Maybe They're Both Right!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

This Psalm was recited by a repentant David regarding the indiscretions that led to the death of Uriah in II Samuel chapter 11.

David asks G-d to hear his plea and to recognize that it is said in righteousness and sincerity, rather than words of falsehood and deception. He asks that his “case” before G-d be dismissed. Despite this obvious error, G-d knows David’s history of righteous deeds. G-d also knows David’s innermost thoughts, so there’s not much purpose in going through the formality of a “trial.”

David knows that he was tested in the incident of Bat-Sheva and he failed. David has learned his lesson from this experience. He was overconfident and strayed, but now he has reinforced his watchfulness to stay far from sin. David asks G-d to guide his steps.

David calls out to G-d for help and he trusts in G-d to respond. He asks G-d not to extend His kindness to those who challenge David as the rightly-appointed king. May G-d protect him from his enemies as a person protects his eye from injury! David’s enemies surround him, but they are blinded by their own wealth and made arrogant by their riches. They’re out to get David, so he asks G-d to knock them down and save him. It would be better to die by G-d’s “hands” than by those of his enemies.

The next portion is a little difficult. According to Rashi, the righteous fill themselves with G-d’s goodness and are satisfied by raising decent, honest children. The Radak explains it to say that David’s enemies fill themselves like gluttons and have children to debauch with them. Who knows? Both interpretations might be equally true! In either case, David ends by saying that He looks forward to seeing G-d in the World to Come and he will be fulfilled with G-d’s “form” (Rashi says at the time of the revival of the dead).

Download Audio File