David Prays for Help

Psalm 17

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 17


Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.


Jesus said, 'Ask me for anything in my name. I will do it for you'. (John 14:14)

Psalm 17

v1   LORD, hear what I am saying to you.
  What I am asking is righteous.
  Listen to me when I cry.
  Answer me when I pray to you.
  My lips do not tell lies.

v2   I want justice from you.
  I want your eyes to see what is right.

v3   You can look at the secrets of my heart.
  You can test me at night.
  Though you test me, you will find nothing (wrong).
  I promise myself that my mouth will not sin.

v4   People do bad things.
  The words of your mouth (have given me help).
  (They) gave me help not to do bad things.

v5   I put my feet on your path.
  My feet did not trip over.

v6   God, I pray to you, because you will answer me.
  Listen to me when I pray to you.

v7   Show that your great love is wonderful.
  Your right hand saves the people that ask for your help.
  It makes them safe from their enemies.

v8   Make me as safe as the apple of your eye.
  Hide me under the shadow of your wings.

v9   Very bad men have attacked me.
  Enemies that want to kill me are all round me.

v10   Their hearts have become hard.
  They speak very proud words.

v11   They found me. They are all round me.
  Their eyes are open wide.
  They want to put me on the ground.

v12   They are like a hungry lion.
  They are like a great lion that is hunting for its food.

v13   LORD, get up! Stand in front of them. Knock them down.
  Save me from wicked men by your sword.

v14   LORD, by your hand (take them) from the earth.
  Remove them from the world. Their reward is in this life.
  You give plenty of food to the people that you love.
  Their sons also have plenty.
  They will give much to their children.

v15   And I, because I am righteous, I will see your face, (LORD).
  It will be enough for me when I awake.
  Then I will really see you.

Word list

test ~ give someone an exam

trip over ~ hit something with your feet and fall over

apple ~ a fruit; the 'apple of the eye' is the part of the eye that hurts a lot when somebody touches it

wings ~ the arms of a bird; it uses them to fly with

hunting ~ looking for something to eat

reward ~ what you give somebody for doing something good

The story of Psalm 17

Somebody wanted to kill David. It was probably King Saul. He was like a hungry lion. (verse 2) Here are some words from 1 Samuel 23:25-26. 'Saul chased David in the wild country near Maon. David ran away. David was afraid of Saul. Saul and his soldiers were all round David. They were ready to kill him'. What happened next? A message came to Saul. It said, 'We need you to fight the Philistines. Come and give us help'. So Saul left David and went away. God answered the words that David prayed. They are probably in Psalm 17.

What Psalm 17 means

Verses 1 5: David asks God to look at the secrets of his heart. These are things that people cannot see. Only God can see them. David says, "test me" at night. Probably that was when David was by himself. David says that he will not tell lies to God. Some of Psalm 17 is very difficult to translate. We have put some words in ( ) to give you help. The words in ( ) probably tell us what David meant.

Verses 6 8: Here are some wonderful Bible words. "Great love" is "chesed" in Hebrew. It means that God loves us and is kind to us. We are the "apple of God's eye". This means that people that hurt us also hurt God. We are special to God. Also, as a bird hides baby birds under its wing, so God hides us! We hide under his wings, like baby birds. The right hand of God here means what God does on earth.

Verses 9 12: David now tells God about his enemies. Really, they are the enemies of God as well. They want to knock David on to the ground. Then they want to kill him. Psalm 17:10 says, "Their hearts have become hard". We are not sure what this means. Perhaps it means that they will not change their minds.

Verses 13 14: David tells God what he wants. He wants God to kill his enemies and to save David. That is what "remove them from the world" means. They will get nothing in the next world. This is because "their reward is in this life". We learn that David did not want to kill his enemies. Though it is hard to believe sometimes, God does care for his own people.

Verse 15: This is a wonderful part of the psalm. It tells us that David believes that he is righteous. He also believes that he will rise from the dead. "When I awake" means "awake from the sleep of death". That is when David would see God.

Something to do

Ask God to make you righteous. This means that:

    you tell God that you are sorry that you broke his rules

    you ask God to forgive you (forgive means that God gives your sins to Jesus who takes them away)

    you ask God to make you a new person (this means that he gives to you his Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is another name for God)

    you try to keep all God's rules; the Holy Spirit will give you help to do this. Then, when you die, you will see God. You will live with him for ever. Look at the end of Psalm 5 to find what "righteous" means.


2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

January 2001

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