The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012


THE poem contains three petitions. In the first (Ps 17:1-5) the psalmist begs of God to give him justice and help against his foes. His cause is just: he is free from all guilt; his mind is pure, and his life has been directed by the Law. In a second prayer (Ps 17:6-12) he again begs for help from the Lord, and describes the cruel enemy who is threatening him. The third appeal (Ps 17:13-15) is for the destruction of the enemy. Even though the godless seem to prevail for a while, in the end justice will triumph, and the light of God’s face will shine on those who are now oppressed.

The psalmist’s attitude of complaint, the description of his enemies, his insistence on his own blamelessness, his prayer for a very special divine assistance, point to a time of great peril arising from the menace of powerful foes. The only period of David’s career in which he found himself in such a position, was during the persecution of Saul. The poem is certainly descriptive of an individual, not of a community. The text of the psalm is in a comparatively poor condition, and we thus fail to get as much light from it about its origin as, at first sight, it seems to give. For many modern critics this psalm suggests the social and religious background of the late post-Exilic period. The psalm is, like the preceding, of very great religious value, since it implies, if it does not clearly state, the doctrine of immortality.


One Response to “Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 17”

  1. […] Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 17). On site. […]

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