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Mizmor 017 - Hear My Thoughts

(א) תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד, שִׁמְעָה ה' צֶדֶק, הַקְשִׁיבָה רִנָּתִי, הַאֲזִינָה תְפִלָּתִי בְּלֹא שִׂפְתֵי מִרְמָה:
(1) A tefillah by David. Hashem, hear [my] sincere [thoughts]; be attentive to my song; listen to my tefillah [that is] not from lips of deception.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 8]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 017 - Hear My Thoughts
This entire mizmor is in the form of a tefillah (prayer) to Hashem. David begins by examining his innermost thoughts, which he knows are open before Hashem. He realizes that if he deceives himself, his tefillah will not be acceptable. He then pleads for Hashem’s support so that he does not stumble in following the pathway of true commitment. He pleads for Hashem’s protection from the wicked people who want to kill him. He acknowledges his sins and begs to be allowed the opportunity to do teshuvah and live out a full life, crowned with worthy children. He concludes the tefillah for his share in the World to Come.
Navigating Tehillim. In Mizmor 012, which is also a tefillah, David deplored the hypocrisy of the treacherous men who threatened his life. In the present mizmor, which is effectively a continuation of that tefillah, he examines his own conscience to ensure that he himself is not guilty of the same hypocrisy which he has found so reprehensible in others.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARDDavid calls out to Hashem to hear his tefillah. He says that he is opening up his innermost thoughts. He knows that if he deceives himself, his tefillah will not be acceptable. He ends this part with a plea for Hashem’s support so that he does not stumble in following the pathway of true commitment.
(א) תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד, שִׁמְעָה ה' צֶדֶק, הַקְשִׁיבָה רִנָּתִי, הַאֲזִינָה תְפִלָּתִי בְּלֹא שִׂפְתֵי מִרְמָה: (ב) מִלְּפָנֶיךָ מִשְׁפָּטִי יֵצֵא, עֵינֶיךָ תֶּחֱזֶינָה מֵישָׁרִים: (ג) בָּחַנְתָּ לִבִּי, פָּקַדְתָּ לַּיְלָה, צְרַפְתַּנִי בַל תִּמְצָא, זַמֹּתִי בַּל יַעֲבָר פִּי: (ד) לִפְעֻלּוֹת אָדָם בִּדְבַר שְׂפָתֶיךָ, אֲנִי שָׁמַרְתִּי אָרְחוֹת פָּרִיץ: (ה) תָּמֹךְ אֲשֻׁרַי בְּמַעְגְּלוֹתֶיךָ, בַּל נָמוֹטּוּ פְעָמָי:
(1) A tefillah by David. Hashem, hear [my] sincere [thoughts]; be attentive to my song; listen to my tefillah [that is] not from lips of deception. (2) Let my judgment go out from before You. Your eyes see uprightness. (3) You have examined my heart; You have visited by night. You have tested me and found no [hypocrisy]; my thoughts did not contradict the words of my mouth. (4) When the actions of man [have been] against the word of Your lips, I have guarded against the ways of the offender. (5) Support my steps in Your pathways so that my feet do not trip.
PART 2. A PLEA FOR PROTECTIONDavid pleads for Hashem’s protection from the wicked people who want to kill him.
(ו) אֲנִי קְרָאתִיךָ כִי תַעֲנֵנִי אֵ־ל, הַט אָזְנְךָ לִי שְׁמַע אִמְרָתִי: (ז) הַפְלֵה חֲסָדֶיךָ, מוֹשִׁיעַ חוֹסִים מִמִּתְקוֹמְמִים בִּימִינֶךָ: (ח) שָׁמְרֵנִי כְּאִישׁוֹן בַּת עָיִן, בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנִי: (ט) מִפְּנֵי רְשָׁעִים זוּ שַׁדּוּנִי, אֹיְבַי בְּנֶפֶשׁ יַקִּיפוּ עָלָי: (י) חֶלְבָּמוֹ סָּגְרוּ פִּימוֹ דִּבְּרוּ בְגֵאוּת: (יא) אַשֻּׁרֵינוּ עַתָּה סְבָבוּנוּ, עֵינֵיהֶם יָשִׁיתוּ לִנְטוֹת בָּאָרֶץ: (יב) דִּמְיֹנוֹ כְּאַרְיֵה יִכְסוֹף לִטְרוֹף וְכִכְפִיר יֹשֵׁב בְּמִסְתָּרִים:
(6) I call to You because You will answer me, O G-d. Incline Your ear to me; hear my words. (7) Exercise Your kindnesses in a special way, to save with Your right hand those who seek refuge from aggressors. (8) Guard me like the apple of the eye; shelter me in the shadow of Your wings. (9) From those resha’im who rob me, my mortal enemies who encircle me. (10) They have covered [their heart] with their fat; their mouths speak with arrogance. (11) [Seeing] our steps they immediately surround us. They cast their eyes to spread over the land. (12) He is like a lion longing for prey; and like a young lion lurking in concealment.
PART 3. A PLEA FOR LIFEDavid acknowledges that his enemies are actually Hashem’s “sword,” sent to punish him for his sins. However, he begs to be allowed the opportunity to do teshuvah and live out a full life, crowned with worthy children. He concludes the tefillah with a plea for his share in the World to Come.
(יג) קוּמָה ה' קַדְּמָה פָנָיו הַכְרִיעֵהוּ פַּלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי מֵרָשָׁע חַרְבֶּךָ: (יד) מִמְתִים יָדְךָ ה', מִמְתִים מֵחֶלֶד, חֶלְקָם בַּחַיִּים, וּצְפוּנְךָ תְּמַלֵּא בִטְנָם, יִשְׂבְּעוּ בָנִים וְהִנִּיחוּ יִתְרָם לְעוֹלְלֵיהֶם: (טו) אֲנִי בְּצֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ אֶשְׂבְּעָה בְהָקִיץ תְּמוּנָתֶךָ:
(13) Rise up, Hashem, confront him, and bring him to his knees. Rescue my soul from the rasha, [acting as] Your sword. (14) Hashem, [let me be] from among those who die by Your hand, who die of old age, whose portion is eternal life. With Your hidden reward, You fill their stomach. They are granted sons and they bequeath their abundance to their children. (15) For [my] righteousness let me behold Your face. Upon awakening [in the World to Come] I will be gratified [to behold] Your image.
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. A PLEA TO BE HEARD.
(א) תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד
This mizmor is tefillah composed by David — תְּפִלָּה לְדָוִד .
שִׁמְעָה ה' צֶדֶק, הַקְשִׁיבָה רִנָּתִי, הַאֲזִינָה תְפִלָּתִי 
בְּלֹא שִׂפְתֵי מִרְמָה:
Hashem, I beg You to hear my sincere thoughts — שִׁמְעָה ה' צֶדֶק , even if unspoken. Be attentive to my heartfelt song of devotion — הַקְשִׁיבָה רִנָּתִי . Listen to my tefillah — הַאֲזִינָה תְפִלָּתִי  in which I am opening up myself to You. My words do not come from lips  בְּלֹא שִׂפְתֵי  that have been used for deception  מִרְמָה , for otherwise You would reject them.
(ב) מִלְּפָנֶיךָ מִשְׁפָּטִי יֵצֵא
Let my judgment go out from before You — מִלְּפָנֶיךָ מִשְׁפָּטִי יֵצֵא . I welcome Your justice because I know that You judge me fairly and with mercy. I hope that my own self-evaluation through tefillah corresponds with Your evaluation of me.
עֵינֶיךָ תֶּחֱזֶינָה מֵישָׁרִים:
I know that Your eyes see uprightness — עֵינֶיךָ תֶּחֱזֶינָה מֵישָׁרִים  for You look beyond a person’s past deeds and consider his future potential, based on the teshuvah that he does.
(ג) בָּחַנְתָּ לִבִּי פָּקַדְתָּ לַּיְלָה
You have examined my heart — בָּחַנְתָּ לִבִּי . You have visited me by night — פָּקַדְתָּ לַּיְלָה  when I was alone and so You know my innermost thoughts and yearnings.
צְרַפְתַּנִי בַל תִּמְצָא 
זַמֹּתִי בַּל יַעֲבָר פִּי:
You have tested me  צְרַפְתַּנִי  with afflictions and difficulties, and You found no wrongful thoughts — בַל תִּמְצָא ; my secret thoughts did not contradict the words of my mouth — זַמֹּתִי בַּל יַעֲבָר פִּי . I have been honest with myself and with others.
(ד) לִפְעֻלּוֹת אָדָם בִּדְבַר שְׂפָתֶיךָ 
אֲנִי שָׁמַרְתִּי אָרְחוֹת פָּרִיץ:
I have not only resisted the yetzer hara (evil inclination), I have also avoided people who are bad influences. When the actions of man — לִפְעֻלּוֹת אָדָם  have sought to influence me to sin against the word of Your lips — בִּדְבַר שְׂפָתֶיךָ , I have guarded against the ways of the offender — אֲנִי שָׁמַרְתִּי אָרְחוֹת פָּרִיץ – and resisted him.
(ה) תָּמֹךְ אֲשֻׁרַי בְּמַעְגְּלוֹתֶיךָ 
בַּל נָמוֹטּוּ פְעָמָי:
Support my steps in Your pathways — תָּמֹךְ אֲשֻׁרַי בְּמַעְגְּלוֹתֶיךָ , so that my feet do not trip — בַּל נָמוֹטּוּ פְעָמָי . I do not want to fail You because of my weaknesses.
PART 2. A PLEA FOR PROTECTION.
(ו) אֲנִי קְרָאתִיךָ כִי תַעֲנֵנִי אֵ־ל 
הַט אָזְנְךָ לִי שְׁמַע אִמְרָתִי:
I call to You — אֲנִי קְרָאתִיךָ , because I am confident that You will answer me, O God of power — כִי תַעֲנֵנִי אֵ־ל . Therefore, I ask that You incline Your ear to me — הַט אָזְנְךָ לִי ; hear and understand my words — שְׁמַע אִמְרָתִי  with all the supporting details that I am unable to specify.
(ז) הַפְלֵה חֲסָדֶיךָ 
מוֹשִׁיעַ חוֹסִים מִמִּתְקוֹמְמִים בִּימִינֶךָ:
Exercise Your kindnesses in a special way — הַפְלֵה חֲסָדֶיךָ , to save — מוֹשִׁיעַ – those who seek refuge in You — חוֹסִים . Protect them from aggressors  מִמִּתְקוֹמְמִים  and save them with Your right hand — בִּימִינֶךָ .
(ח) שָׁמְרֵנִי כְּאִישׁוֹן בַּת עָיִן
Guard me as the eyelid protects the apple of the eye — שָׁמְרֵנִי כְּאִישׁוֹן בַּת עָיִן . Let me be as precious to You as the apple of the eye is to me. Let me be Your instrument of light.
בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנִי:
Like a hovering eagle, shelter me in the shadow of Your wings — בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנִי . Let my enemies fear to attack me because they sense Your watchful presence.
(ט) מִפְּנֵי רְשָׁעִים זוּ שַׁדּוּנִי 
אֹיְבַי בְּנֶפֶשׁ יַקִּיפוּ עָלָי:
Protect me from those resha’im who rob me — מִפְּנֵי רְשָׁעִים זוּ שַׁדּוּנִי . Save me from my mortal enemies  אֹיְבַי בְּנֶפֶשׁ  who encircle me — יַקִּיפוּ עָלָי .
(י) חֶלְבָּמוֹ סָּגְרוּ
They have indulged themselves with luxuries and so they have covered  סָּגְרוּ  their heart and their eyes with their fat  חֶלְבָּמוֹ . As a result they don’t see Your works and they have no fear of You. They don’t feel the need to seek sustenance from their Creator.
פִּימוֹ דִּבְּרוּ בְגֵאוּת:
And their mouths speak with arrogance — פִּימוֹ דִּבְּרוּ בְגֵאוּת because they have convinced themselves that their success is their own doing.
(יא) אַשֻּׁרֵינוּ עַתָּה סְבָבוּנוּ 
עֵינֵיהֶם יָשִׁיתוּ לִנְטוֹת בָּאָרֶץ:
The resha’im are on the prowl for me and my people. As soon as they pick up our trail and see the path of our steps — אַשֻּׁרֵינוּ — they immediately surround us  עַתָּה סְבָבוּנוּ to hem us in. They cast their eyes  עֵינֵיהֶם יָשִׁיתוּ on us, seeking a moment of weakness to spread their net over the land — לִנְטוֹת בָּאָרֶץ – and take it from us.
(יב) דִּמְיֹנוֹ כְּאַרְיֵה יִכְסוֹף לִטְרוֹף 
וְכִכְפִיר יֹשֵׁב בְּמִסְתָּרִים:
Every one of them is driven by the same motive. He is like a hungry lion — דִּמְיֹנוֹ כְּאַרְיֵה , which hunts in the wilderness, longing for prey — יִכְסוֹף לִטְרוֹף ; and like a young lion lurking in concealment — וְכִכְפִיר יֹשֵׁב בְּמִסְתָּרִים , but ready to spring when the victim passes by.
PART 3. A PLEA FOR LIFE.
(יג) קוּמָה ה' קַדְּמָה פָנָיו הַכְרִיעֵהוּ
Rise up, Hashem — קוּמָה ה' , confront him — קַדְּמָה פָנָיו  before the rasha gets to me and bring him to his knees — הַכְרִיעֵהוּ .
פַּלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי מֵרָשָׁע חַרְבֶּךָ:
Rescue my soul from the rasha — פַּלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי מֵרָשָׁע , even though he acts as Your sword — חַרְבֶּךָ  to carry out the punishment that You have decreed. Give me the opportunity to do teshuvah before the rasha strikes.
(יד) מִמְתִים יָדְךָ ה', מִמְתִים מֵחֶלֶד, 
חֶלְקָם בַּחַיִּים
Hashem, let me not die a violent death. Let me be from among those blessed ones who are allowed to die by Your hand — מִמְתִים יָדְךָ ה' . Let me be from among those who die of old age — מִמְתִים מֵחֶלֶד . Their portion is eternal life — חֶלְקָם בַּחַיִּים .
וּצְפוּנְךָ תְּמַלֵּא בִטְנָם
With Your hidden reward — וּצְפוּנְךָ  that You have set aside for those who fear You, You fill their stomach  תְּמַלֵּא בִטְנָם .
יִשְׂבְּעוּ בָנִים וְהִנִּיחוּ יִתְרָם לְעוֹלְלֵיהֶם:
They are granted worthy sons — יִשְׂבְּעוּ בָנִים  and they bequeath their abundance to their children — וְהִנִּיחוּ יִתְרָם לְעוֹלְלֵיהֶם .
(טו) אֲנִי בְּצֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ
As for me — אֲנִי , I hope to be among them so that in reward for my righteousness in This World — בְּצֶדֶק , I will behold Your face — אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ  in the World to Come.
אֶשְׂבְּעָה בְהָקִיץ תְּמוּנָתֶךָ:
Upon awakening — בְהָקִיץ  to life in that future world, let me be gratified — אֶשְׂבְּעָה  to behold Your image — תְּמוּנָתֶךָ , which is the spiritual image in which man was created.
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the thoughts that you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah and some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[17:1] SINCERITY. – הַקְשִׁיבָה רִנָּתִי, הַאֲזִינָה תְפִלָּתִי בְּלֹא שִׂפְתֵי מִרְמָה – “Hashem, hear [my] sincere [thoughts]; be attentive to my song; listen to my tefillah [that is] not from lips of deception.” Be honest and sincere whenever you speak, but especially when addressing Hashem. If you are not totally open with Him, he knows it.
[17:2] עֵינֶיךָ תֶּחֱזֶינָה מֵישָׁרִים – “Your eyes see uprightness.”
[17:3] צְרַפְתַּנִי בַל תִּמְצָא, זַמֹּתִי בַּל יַעֲבָר פִּי – “You have tested me and found no [hypocrisy]; my thoughts did not contradict the words of my mouth.”
[17:6] CONFIDENCE. – אֲנִי קְרָאתִיךָ כִי תַעֲנֵנִי אֵ־ל – “I call to You because You will answer me.” If you have done teshuvah, be confident in approaching Hashem to hear your tefillos.
[17:15] ETERNAL LIFE. – אֲנִי בְּצֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ אֶשְׂבְּעָה בְהָקִיץ תְּמוּנָתֶךָ – “For [my] righteousness let me behold Your face. Upon awakening [in the World to Come] I will be gratified [to behold] Your image.” Ask Hashem to grant you the privilege of life in the World to come.
Lessons for Life - Your Behavior.
[17:4] BAD INFLUENCES. – אֲנִי שָׁמַרְתִּי אָרְחוֹת פָּרִיץ – “I have guarded against the ways of the offender.” Avoid interacting with people who do not observe the mitzvos.
[17:10] LUXURIES. – חֶלְבָּמוֹ סָּגְרוּ פִּימוֹ דִּבְּרוּ בְגֵאוּת – “They have covered [their heart] with their fat; their mouths speak with arrogance.” Avoid indulging in conspicuous luxuries. Such behavior breeds arrogance and makes you feel that you have no need to seek sustenance from Your Creator.
Tefillos for Life - Your Berachah.
[17:5] HELP WITH MITZVOS. – תָּמֹךְ אֲשֻׁרַי בְּמַעְגְּלוֹתֶיךָ, בַּל נָמוֹטּוּ פְעָמָי – “Support my steps in Your pathways so that my feet do not trip.” Ask Hashem to help you in your desire to observe His mitzvos. Make the case that you do not want to fail Him because of your weaknesses.
[17:14] NATURAL DEATH. – מִמְתִים יָדְךָ ה', מִמְתִים מֵחֶלֶד – “Hashem, [let me be] from among those who die by Your hand, who die of old age.” Ask Hashem that when it is time for you to leave this world it will be a natural death and that you will not be the victim of violence.
Tefillos for Life - Your Yeshuah.
[17:8] DIVINE PRESENCE. – בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנִי – “Shelter me in the shadow of Your wings.” Ask Hashem to let your enemies fear to attack you because they sense His watchful presence.
[17:9] SHELTER. – מִפְּנֵי רְשָׁעִים זוּ שַׁדּוּנִי, אֹיְבַי בְּנֶפֶשׁ יַקִּיפוּ עָלָי – “[Shelter me] from those resha’im who rob me, my mortal enemies who encircle me.” Ask Hashem to protect you from evil men who are seeking to cause you harm.
Tefillos for Life - Your Teshuvah.
[17:13] DELAYED ATTACK. – פַּלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי מֵרָשָׁע חַרְבֶּךָ – “Rescue my soul from the rasha, [acting as] Your sword.” Ask Hashem to stop the rasha who is out to harm you. Ask that his attack be delayed to give you the opportunity to do teshuvah.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - מצודות, נר לרגלי, רשר"ה
ב - באר אברהם, נר לרגלי
ג - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, מצודות, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ד - באר אברהם
ה - מצודות
ו - רש"י, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ז - רש"י
ח - רש"י, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
ט - רש"י
י - רש"י, נר לרגלי
יא - רש"י, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
יב - רש"י, אבן עזרא, נר לרגלי
יג - רש"י, נר לרגלי
יד - רש"י, מצודות
טו - רש"י, מצודות