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The Prayer of a Righteous Man

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2021 8:00 am

The Prayer of a Righteous Man

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 28, 2021 8:00 am

How should we approach God with our needs and requests? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, David brings his urgent petitions and pleadings boldly before God in prayer, giving us a model for how we as Christians--righteous men and women of God--might pray.

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How should we approach God with our needs and requests today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce. David brings his urgent petitions and pleadings boldly before God in prayer, giving us a model for how we as Christians, righteous men and women of God might pray.

Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Psalm 17 is yet another short prayer affidavits. It opens with David presenting arguments and evidence to God as to why God should hear his prayers and rescue him. Open your Bible and listen along with us today as we unpack the truths of the Psalm 17 prayer together. If you've ever done any academic study of the Psalms, not studying the Psalms inductively as I hope you do do but academically reading what others have said about them and how they are handled in a scholarly way.

Another one of the things commentators on the Psalms do is divide them in the categories for psychology honors and is done in a different fashion.

I suppose with each commentator. Depending upon particular categorization that appeals to him, but a typical division of the Psalms would go something like this I draw from Trumper Longman who is an associate pastor of Old Testament at Westminster theological seminary and is written very easy to read and helpful book entitled how to read the Psalms. He says you have him Psalms and laments Thanksgiving Psalms Psalms of remembrance Psalms of confidence, wisdom Psalms and kinship songs while I him usually begins with a call to worship and then it gives reasons why we should praise God and pray for them.

For those very things that lament generally present some problem. The psalmist has calls out to God for help. The problem I Thanksgiving Psalms thanks God for some blessing. Sometimes that blessing is his response to a lament that is already been given sometimes as we read the Psalms we sense the Psalm of Thanksgiving follows a Psalm of lament and probably is intended to be that way then you have Psalms of remembrance and confidence do just what they sound like wisdom Psalms usually present two different lifestyles or ways of living, contrasting them and showing that the one is a way of blessing and a mother is unfortunate way wrong way to live. Psalms 1 is a perfect example of land begins by contrasting man who does not walk in the way of sinners, with a man who does the sinful man walks in the counsel of the wicked, and he stands in the way of sinners and he sits in the seat of the mockers, but not so the man is the light in the Lord, then you have kinship solvents. They are two types are Psalms that praised the king of Israel and pray for God's blessing upon them, and then there are Psalms that look forward and beyond that, the Messiah, the great King.

Who's going to, sometimes one Psalm will contain both elements of the psalmist. Psalm 17 by that categorization is very hard to fit it into any one of those daughters, I suppose, given the types I just mentioned the thing. Psalm 17 best fences that lament because here, David is in trouble.

His enemies are pressing in on every side is asking God for help when I study it. It seems to me that what most is this just a prayer. Not only that it's a model prayer is interestingly enough, the very first Psalm in the Psalter that is specifically called prayer. Notice that up at the top of the Psalms are those little titles, some quite lengthy. Psalm 18 across the page has a very lengthy introduction.

Psalm 17 is short. It merely says a prayer of David. That's a very first time that word prayer has been used to look back and you find different things, a Psalm of David Amick, David nobody knows what that is is why the non-translated in several other things.

But that's the very first time. It's called prayer and what I like to suggest is that it is a great prayer and a model prayer and one from which we can learn. David was a great man of prayer and what he does in this prayer is present arguments to God for why God should hear his prayers. We don't hear that very much today. I can't recall ever having heard a sermon in which the pastor instructed me how to present arguments to God when I pray yet that was a very common thing in the previous aged Puritans did that a lot CH Spurgeon did a great deal and made that one of the things that he urged upon the members of the congregation want to see the God has to be persuaded to listen to us by means of arguments he doesn't goddess more than anxious to answer but rather that when we present our petitions to God by means of arguments.

The very act of formulating the arguments sharpens our mind sharpens our sense of what it is were really asking and why God should actually be doing at the real changes take place in us.

And of course that's quite beneficial.

Spurgeon loved Islam and he said David when he was writing about a David would not of been a man after God's own heart if he had not been a man of prayer and then he added he was a master in the art of supplication that when you begin to look at Psalm 17 you find right away that it's a very urgent prayer. They would starts and by asking God to hear him and he doesn't mince words here, O Lord, my righteous please listen to my cry give ear to my prayer and later on a urges God to do certain things which almost fit into the same category. What strikes us when we begin to read it, however, is not the urgency with which he prairies, but rather the first of the three arguments that I find here and it's that he is praying. But with deceitful lips, but with lips that speak truth and from an upright heart way to put that into our own terminology is to say that what David is pleading here is that he is innocent.

Now he does a very strongly.

He begins in the very first line by asking God to hear his righteous plea. We live in a more timorous age where more introspective and moreover we have been taught to pray that we are sinful in all times and that even at our best we are unprofitable servants. So when we come to something like that. I think that most of us are troubled buyouts here, O Lord, my righteous plea which of us would really dare to say that the holy God. Rather, we sort of angle up to the throne of grace and say Lord if you're not too busy and you're willing listen to a person is as simple as I am, I have something here, which is probably wrong and hi I don't know that I really have any right to present it to you but at any rate, if you would be willing to listen. This is more or less probably are not willing to listen. If it's all right but I have classes, but I would like to have you do that is not the way David is praying here all Lord my righteous plea, and furthermore he says it does not arise from deceitful lips. You think that's wrong. You go on to the next of the stanzas begins with verse three. Listen to what he says.

Although you probe my heart and examined me at night though you test me you will find nothing in Jeremiah say the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can they would say that. As for the deeds of man by the words of your lips. I have kept myself from the ways of the violent my step somehow into your plans. My feet have not slept is doing here is praying is a first approach to God that his heart is right before now.

I have to say of course that when he prays that he is righteous, he is not saying that he sinless. You and I know that we also dealt with at earlier in the Psalms. When David pleads his innocence of the Psalms generally is pleading often. It's quite explicit that he is innocent of the charge that's been made against him quite often. His enemies are accusing him of something and doing it wrong way and he goes to God because that's the only person he can go to says the God you know I haven't done this I innocent of this alleged crime and therefore I plead by innocence vindicate me probably thinking about that here because verse two actually calls for vindication, may my vindication come from you and I don't let it go as easily as that, because here we have, as I have suggested a model prayer to say is it one solid basis for making requests to God is to come before him with an upright heart, and with hands innocent of great transgressions. Furthermore I think were encouraged to do that, not only by David's example but by other things that are said in the Scripture. Think of the case of Job. For example, about Job was certainly not a sinless man. He was a sinner, just as you and I her centers.

Nevertheless, in his case, when God first mentions Job to Satan were told about it in the early chapters of that book, God himself.

Job in this instance with God himself calls attention to Job's upright character. He says to Satan that you considered my servant Job, he is upright and blameless. There is none like him in all the earth is God speaking about job and what you get to the very end of the book which has to do with prayer. God says to the visors false counselors of job made his life so difficult during the major portion of that book I'm going to have my servant Job pray for you and I'm going to listen to him because he hasn't spoken folly as you have is a that has to do with prayer and God is saying there I'm going to answer Job's prayer because Job is upright before me. He is innocent. I want to say is that you and I have to give more attention to that when we pray and what we really need to do is to examine our hearts as we come to God and confess the sin that is there so that when we pray we may pray with upright hearts and with a clear conscience.

I want to suggest a few areas in which we can conduct a self-examination property urges laughter upon ourselves because to give just one example. Paul when he's talking about coming to the communion table says that we are to do it, but every man examine himself so he doesn't need to read her drink of the wine unworthily. So when we pray were supposed to examine ourselves and there's a few things I would suggest first of all, it's asked the question, are we being disobedient say when God speaks through Isaiah in the 59th chapter of that book he says that his arm is not shortened nor is his ear heavy, that it can't hear, but rather our sins and separated between him and awesome. That's why when I getting the answers to our prayers. We are disobeying his law of the first thing we have to do when we examine ourselves coming to God in prayer is asked the question of my being disobedient. You have the moral law.

Before you know what it says on the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind or soul your voice. Are we trying to do that or are we dishonoring them by what we do worship God and God only were to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. We use the Lord's day is a time of worship. Is it something special in our week or do we mix up all sorts of other things about our fathers and our mothers. We pay them the proper respect and honorifics. There do we break the law by stealing by committing adultery or other kind of sexual sins are we coveting for doing those things. How can we possibly pretend they were coming before God with the upright heart. Certainly in those areas.

We are unable to complete our innocence statement does me ask another question we being selfish when we pray, there's a way to examine it. Naturally we are to pray for our own concerns, where encouraged to do that. And David himself is doing that there is enemies pressing in on them. Roundabout is not a problem on his hands.

He brings it to God.

God save me from my enemies that is a perfectly proper prayer, but it is very easy. As you know in our prayers for proper requests for things that we need her, which are concerned asked Passover and mere selfishness.

And we find the what, where, really praying for is a God will bless us, rather than others, or bless us in ways that we really don't need a prosperous and ways that we just want because after all, we just want to prosper in that way. One of the guards against that is to make it a point in our prayers always to pray for the needs of others before. Pray for the needs of ourselves and know even in the Lord's prayer when the Lord instructed us to pray didn't say that we should say give me this day my daily bread keep me from evil, but is always awesome hourly always exit floral is 1/3 question, are we neglecting some important duty. We come to God in prayer but are we leaving something undone instructed in the Scripture to care for members of our family.

For instance, Paul writing to Timothy set up a person doesn't care for the members of his own household is worse than an infidel.

That is worse than an unbeliever.

Why should God hear the prayers of one was worse than an unbeliever certainly have things that we ought to do. We say in one of the collects those who know the collects from morning prayer. The book of common prayer of the Church of England. We have left undone.

Those things which we ought not to of God, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. There is no health in us have to deal with the undone things and neglected things as well is the outright transgressions of God's law is another question. Are we doing some wrong or have we done some wrong that we should make right.

Jesus himself gave us instructions along those lines. He said when you bring your gift to the altar to remember that you have a problem with your brother leave the gift of the altar. Go make it right, then come back and offer your offering as he knew that sort of thing can be a barrier to prayer and worship. How about priorities, there's another category are our priorities right. When we pray. Prayer certainly indicate what priorities we have for praying honestly. Are they right are we praying first of all, for God's glory God's will and God's kingdom is the Lord instructed us to do what we call the Lord's prayer.

After that for our own interests, and even then only coupling those with the interested needs of other people, or do we pray for those things which concern awesome, which probably of God would grant them would only do us harm.

Self-examination should be a part of it and having done that, we should be able to pray, as David does here, Lord here my righteous play because it does not arise from sinful lips. I suppose that in our day where we in the church in America are not certainly very well known for prayer and in which religion is not a hideout but rather as most of us are aware, in a very low lab that the sort of thing is almost beyond most Christian people, we have to come praying for our many sins and asking forgiveness for our many sins and to think of praying to God fervently and effectively on the basis of an upright character.

Well, that is almost beyond this, but it ought not to be David models prayer shows us how it should be.he does it in verses one through five. Now he has a second argument in the second argument begins in verse six goes verses six through 12 and has a do with the character of God. In this case it has to do mostly with his loving speaks about in verse seven show the wonder of your great love you who say by your right hand, those who take refuge in you.

From there follows that verse, verse seven has the heart of the prayer and it stands almost at the very center we read that show the wonder of your great love. It's meaningful but it's not nearly as meaningful to us in English has said it is in the Hebrew for anybody to understand that because what it says love your great love is it's translated here. That's not word simply noting some kind of general benevolence of God. This kind of love he shows when he sends rain upon the just and the unjust alike. Such a thing as common grace that someone is talking about here. The Hebrew word is said that refers to is covenant love kind of a hard word to translate the new international version gives us a very weak translation of my judgment great love. It's true, it's great.

But that doesn't say very much about it. Sometimes that word is translated specially in the King James Bible loving kindness, or better yet in some of the modern versions steadfast love because that really begins to get to the idea. This is the love God shows when he is weak reed sets his love upon an individual, or upon the people, the kind of love he showed when he established a covenant with Abraham and with his descendents after him, promising to do certain things saying I will be your God and you will be to me a people.

It's the kind of love he showed to the nation of Israel as a whole.

When he entered in a covenant with them. That's what it's talking about. So when we read it we find a very very strong thing. The David's pleading is not just saying in a general way to God, my God, I know you're a good God, and therefore, I know you like to help people in here my I need some help. Suppose that would be a valid prayer itself, but it's much stronger than that saying the God God, you are one who is sent your covenant love upon your people and I am a member of the covenant people and so I plead with you on the basis of your steadfast love in your great promises which you do not break your do that when you pray to God you know that you can come to God.

That way, pleading the promises knowing that you remembered of his covenant people. I want to suggest even stronger than that.

Again this is something that's a little hard to see immediately in the English leisure very very careful or you have a word processor that links up all these words of the Old Testament, but this verse seven contains within it very clear references to the song of Moses, that you find in Exodus 15 or three words there that appear in that earlier Psalm which Moses is praising God for his deliverance of the people from Pharaoh great love said covenant love is one of them wonder of your great love is another you say by your right hand. That is another all three of those ideas.

There appear in several verses in Genesis 15 very clear English sort of clarity recognizes a parallel, but in the Hebrew it's the same words that occur in both passages and not only that, the very next verse, verse eight has echoes of another song of Moses very end of Deuteronomy in the 32nd chapter you have him in which Moses praises God, followed by his blessing upon the 12 tribes.

But in the song of Deuteronomy 32 you have that phrase the apple of your eyes very clear where that comes from. That's an unusual phrase but come from Deuteronomy and under the shadow of your wings that occurs in the same context right there. So when you have only one reference to references and you have not only in Psalm 17 one verse two verses that refer back to those Psalms of Moses is quite evident what David has in mind those of the Psalms in which Moses great lawgiver. Praise God for his delivery. What David is saying you say is that this God, to whom he is praying is the same God. God was faithful to his people then and delivered them from Egypt to God was faithful to Moses all the years of his wandering in the wilderness of capital provided for the people directed them every step of their way is the same God is David's guidance to that God that he prays he says God remember me according to your great love show the wonder of your great love to me as you showed it to the others I'd encourage you to pray that way, we sometimes have such a private to stick approach to religion that we think that it's to be measured only by our own experience.

That's a bad way to do it because generally own experiences in very great to see if the God we worship is the God of all the saints who have gone before then. If it's to his character that we appeal. When we pray, then our horizons in prayer are expanded and we can be bold to say this is the God. I'm praying to these the same God as our fathers before us and he will work the same way for me.

We change, he changes not. That's what the Scriptures say to the God of Moses is our God and he is not changed in the God of David is our God and he is not changed God the father of the Lord Jesus Christ as our God and he is not changed I got is the same yesterday today and forever and we can appeal to it. We can pray as we approach him on the basis of that character is 1/3 argument in the prayer. I guess it seems fairly humdrum cost after the first two talk about innocence, but get your attention. Talk about the covenant love of God that is the weightiest ID of the Psalm here beginning in verse 10 he talks about the danger that surrounds them well. Seems humdrum DOS, but it wasn't humdrum. David you can be sure that was a real danger he was surrounded by enemies and they want to get him not to get them really didn't mean and I day they were just gonna make it difficult for them at work, or they were going to see if they can hurt them financially. That really kill them if they could. He spells it out to say they close up there callous hearts. That's a difficult thing to translate the Hebrew has to do with them being enclosed in their fat must be an idiom, but most people don't know quite what to do that. It seems to refer to them being implacable. That is, they were people without mercy, which is why NIV translates it this way. They close up there callous hearts are not going to expect any mercy from these enemies say that's what he said in their mouth.

Speak with arrogance.

It was already talked about that seen in earlier studies how we could make great boasts against God they say about nearby my own strength is ever going to hold me up to account.

That's the kind of enemies he had.

He couldn't even appeal to God, to say don't do that because God will be met and care about God and then he talks about what they're trying to do.

They have tracked me down. They surround me with eyes alert to throw me to the ground there like a lion hungry for the prayer great lion crouching in cover. They are only waiting for the moment to spring upon me and take away my life now I don't know how to apply that in your case, but you probably know that yourself. You know whatever danger you're in. If you are in danger, you complete that one Bible teacher of an earlier generation, said that whenever anybody was after him. He always said to God, Lord, your property is in danger.

He met he was in danger and he belonged to God is up to God to protect his own property and he was sure that God would you like to do that, you can say is you go into a difficult situation at work or home or in the world, or anywhere. All you can say gone, I'm yours. I'm here to serve you. This is a dangerous situation.

Keep that which is yours.

I appeal to you to do it. Certainly, David knew how to do that he did it again and again to find it again and again in the Psalms verse 13 we come to the wrapup for two stanzas there verses 13 and 14 are one and then second half of verse 14 verse 15 or another new international version translates it well. Interesting thing we find here in terms of its form. I'm trying to teach something about the way the Psalms are written, mingling it in here so you don't get bored as we deal with the Psalms and last time I talked about Hebrew parallelism. It's the most obvious feature of Hebrew verse that is said way in which something is said and is a repeated again. Sometimes even said in such a way as we read it we sense that in a worship service person was leading it was say the first line and then those who were worshiping say the second line. The whole song here.

Later on that will come to in which the people say your love endures forever. Over and over again running about 30 times in the Salt Lake that after everything leader says well that parallelism is not a simple thing. Hebrew worship has all kinds of variations and that's what makes it so interesting when we were talking about Psalm 15 I pointed out several kinds of that. Sometimes the second line virtually repeats what's in the first line like Psalm 15 to he whose walk is blameless, and who does what is righteous.

The second half of that almost says again. What's in the first. Sometimes it doesn't. In a contrary form. The first type is positive. The second half is negative.

You do this, but you don't do that and in the 15th Psalm.

The second half of verse two in the first part of verse three have that form who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue again that parallelism that the first is positive event second part is negative sometimes. The second part adds to the first part, as if to say, and not only this, but also that you have an example. They are also in Psalm 15, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, he not only turns from evil.

He also follows that which is good with reason I mention that is that there is another kind of parallelism that I didn't mention in the study of Psalm 15 because it doesn't occur there, but which does occur here.

It's called TS and the reason is called that is because the Greek word Kir Chi is in the form of an accident more or less describes what happens. First line has the four may be in in the second line has the form BA. I look you find it in verse in verse two, kind of subtly my vindication comes from you. May your eyes see what is right. You see my vindication refers to David comes from you, refers to God me your eyes.

That is God see what is right that is me. So what David does.

There is a BBA parallelism and has some variety. The reason I mention that again is because sometimes it's not just a couplet that has that form and sometimes the entire composition does that's what you find here in Psalm 17 the form of the song. The prayer thus far has been this David protest his innocence and then he speaks of his enemies, and hear the very end, beginning with verse 13 you have the same thing in reverse. David speaks of his enemies and then he ends up by protesting his innocence. Verse 15 I am righteousness. I seek your face you see when he gets to the end of the Psalm is gotten right back to the point at which he started out that there is a great thing to be able to do in prayer come to God in prayer have your heart open before him, knowing that he sees it anyway. Letting it all hang out before him, presenting all your needs and then having done that turned away again with an upright heart to go in the world to confront problems or face the task is placed before you.

That is what David Dotson it's a way prayer should operate every last person I righteousness will see your face in the King James it says. And as for me, Harry Ironside, who love the Psalms wrote a helpful though very brief treatment of them said he always like to put a number of verses together. There when he got to that place.

Psalm 1830, Psalm 103 15 in this verse, verse 15 of 17 first verse.

Psalm 1830 says. As for God's way is perfect on the second track. Psalm 103 15 says. As for man, he is like grass and then the third verse says as 4 million righteousness. I will seek your face as he said whenever we look to God.

We say his way is perfect. It doesn't make any difference what comes into our lives whether relatively pleasant times are suffering or pain or sickness or trouble at work whatever it may be. David was surrounded by enemies were trying to take away his life. Whenever that may be. Nevertheless, God makes no mistakes.

His way is perfect in his ways with us are perfect, it's good to know that at some point at which we start out we turn from that demand we say is for God's way is perfect.

It is for man C is like grass grass and springs up today and is on the morrow, which is quickly burned down by the summer sun, which is gathered in the bundles and burn. That's what man is like here today gone tomorrow what that well. David says because I know that because I know that God's way is perfect, and I know the man is like grass is for me. I'm going to pursue the face of God righteousness. I will see your face and when I awake I know I'm going to be satisfied with your likeness, may I suggest nothing else is really going to satisfy you. You and I live in a world that's trying to convince us. It will be satisfied if we only follow its lifestyle of family by this. Do this by the spenders go there. All of that, then you'll be satisfied, but you know you're not never be satisfied with anything you're not even ever be satisfied totally with another person because you see as St. Augustine said, well, so long ago, our hearts are restless. They have no peace until they rest in you.

God has given us.

As Augustine said in infinite vacuum in our souls. The only thing they can fill that is the infinite God himself.

That's what prayer is meant to do is to bring us into the presence of God and satisfy us with God and his likeness of his will and his ways, and above all with this person. I urged upon you. I urge you to learn from David, who certainly knew how to pray.

Let us pray father.

We don't know how to pray.

Well, we don't do it often. Most of us, but we need to learn. We want to learn and here we have the opportunity to learn from this great Old Testament St. King David with all his responsibilities but are nevertheless new strengths comes from you and he had to seek your face teaches how to do it. They blessed by your grace to so cleanse our lives of known sin that we can, then upright hearts in an innocent life before you plead your grace with minds and hearts taught by your spirit so we know what you are like your covenant keeping God and when we approach you. That way, to fear to present the really danger look to you to intervene and save us, and above all manifesting yourself.

Granted, as we see you we might grow in grace and so by that same grace live in increasingly acceptable ways. The praise of the glory of Jesus Christ are.

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