Psalm 17 is another of those prayers of David when he’s on the wrong side of the battle . . . the losing side. And while David wasn’t a perfect or pure man, in this case he cries to God to “hear a just cause” (v.1). In this particular matter he is confident that God has tried his heart, has dug deep into the secret places, and, having tested him, knows he is above reproach (v. 3). David has guarded his mouth and watched carefully his steps (v.4-5) and so calls out to God to arise and deliver his soul from the wicked (v. 13).
And what catches my attention is the contrast David makes between himself and those who oppose him.
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 17:13-15 ESV)
David’s enemies were of those who lived for this world, whose portion was in this life. Those who lived for the material and viewed success by what could be seen, acquired, used, and left to others. Though not recognizing God’s good hand in their accumulated treasures, for He is the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17), their when-all-is-said-and-done satisfaction came from what they could leave behind for their children and their children’s children. To die with abundance was to die successfully. To leave a great inheritance, their great legacy. They were of that sort of person who, in essence, was living to leave.
But as for David, he was living to behold.
Though the going was getting tough, David didn’t lose site of what lay ahead. Though justified in this matter, if things just didn’t get any better, his hope was in what was yet to come. For the songwriter looked forward to that day when he would awake and behold Jehovah’s face in righteousness. His satisfaction not tied to any material treasure left behind, but to the eternal reward of seeing face to face His God’s likeness.
While David cried out to God for present help, he did so mindful of his promised future. Though his enemies sought his life unjustly, he had been justified by faith. Though they sought his possessions that they might place them in their storehouses, he sought God’s presence that he might find himself in the shadow of His wings (v. 8). Though they lived for what they could accumulate and leave as their legacy, David lived for what he could anticipate and receive as his reward.
They were living to leave. He was living to behold.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.
(1John 3:2 ESV)
It has not yet appeared but when we it does, we will be satisfied. Satisfied because we shall be like Him awaking with His likeness as David believed. Satisfied because we shall see Him, beholding His face in righteousness as David anticipated.
And this, by our God’s unfailing grace. And this, for our God’s everlasting glory.