What does Psalm 17:9 mean?
ESV: from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.
NIV: from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.
NASB: From the wicked who deal violently with me, My deadly enemies who surround me.
CSB: from the wicked who treat me violently, my deadly enemies who surround me.
NLT: Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me.
KJV: From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.
NKJV: From the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me.
Verse Commentary:
The prior verse used two phrases related to God's loving care which have been widely used even outside of Scripture (Psalm 17:8). Here, David explains why he so desperately seeks God's watchful protection. Other men were seeking to harm and murder David. It's possible this psalm was written during David's persecution by king Saul (1 Samuel 20:32–33). David was surrounded by those who wanted to kill him. Only the Lord could protect him and deliver him from the enemies' ruthless hands.

Believers have always been the target of the Devil and his followers. Near the beginning of time wicked Cain killed his brother, righteous Abel (Genesis 4:8). Pharaoh tried to kill all the Hebrew male infants (Exodus 1:15–16). Haman tried to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews in the nation (Esther 3:8–11). Seeking to kill a recently-born Jesus, Herod ordered the slaughter of Jewish boys under the age of two in an entire town (Matthew 2:16). Wicked men conspired to crucify Jesus (Matthew 26:3–5; John 19:12–16). Christ's early followers suffered the wrath of unsaved Jews and Gentiles (Acts 5:40; 8:3; 16:19–24). In the tribulation, the beast and the false prophet will conduct a terrorist campaign against all who refuse the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:15–17). However, Jesus said, "Take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33)."
Verse Context:
Psalm 17:6–12 is David's prayer for the Lord's protection. He expresses confidence that the Lord will keep him safe. Surrounded by his bloodthirsty enemies, David knows he is helpless without the Lord's intervention. He describes the enemy as dangerous and deadly as a lion.
Chapter Summary:
Likely written when Saul was pursuing David in the wilderness, this records David's urgent plea for deliverance. He insists that he is in the right and free from deceit or evil. He proclaims God as a Savior and asks God to heed his cry and reveal His steadfast love to him. David addresses God as the Savior of those who seek refuge in Him from their enemies. Verse 8 uses two famous phrases describing God's tender care and love: "apple of the eye" and "shadow of your wings." Using a singular noun, David compares his enemy, likely Saul, to a ferocious, stealthy, bloodthirsty lion. Through these struggles, David looks forward to a blessed eternity of beholding God's face.
Chapter Context:
This is another psalm in which David appeals to God to deliver him from his enemy, likely Saul (1 Samuel 20:32–33). It shares themes and even Hebrew phrases with Psalm 16. This is one of several psalms identified as direct prayers, along with psalms 86, 90, 102, and 142.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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