Weds 7 September - Psalm 34
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
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Meditation on Psalm 34
There is much discussion as to the actual event that produced this psalm. One thing we can conclude is, as Kirkpatrick says, ‘the psalm has all the marks of relief and gratitude for a miraculous escape’.
Eric Gaudion, a former pastor and missionary says, ‘it clearly arises from a particular experience of suffering and difficulty’.
For example, note verse 4 where David says, ‘He delivered me from all my fears.’
In the 178th Century, Tate and Brady wrote this hymn which seems to sum up parts of Psalm 34.
Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.
Of His deliverance I will boast, till all that are distressed
From my example comfort take, and lay their griefs to rest
O magnify the Lord with me, with me exalt His name;
when in distress, to Him I called He to my rescue came.
The hosts of God encamp around the dwellings of the just;
deliverance He affords to all who on His succour trust.
O make but trial of His love; experience will decide
how blessed they are, and only they, who in His truth confide.
Fear Him, you saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear;
make you His service your delight, He’ll make your wants His care.
The psalm is in two parts. Kidner suggests two sub-headings: ‘Rejoice with me’ (verses 1-10) and ‘Learn from me’ (verses 11-22).
Spurgeon says ‘the first ten verses are a hymn and the last twelve verses are a sermon.’
- PRAISE THE LORD Verses 1-3
Notice that there is the personal praise and the collective praise - ‘I’; ‘my’; ‘with me’; let us ...exalt…together’.
Notice the active verbs - ‘extol’; ‘praise’; ‘rejoice’; ‘glorify’; exalt’.
Notice the definite commitment – not should or might… but ‘I will at all times…’; ‘His praise will always be on my lips’.
Here is the encouragement to praise, whether collectively when we meet together or individually when we spend time with the Lord’
What does it mean to ’extol’ the Lord. I looked up a synonym for the word – here are some suggestions:
‘exalt, praise, magnify, glorify, worship, acclaim, bless and celebrate.’
Here is the encouragement to praise because we are focusing on the LORD. We are lifting high the name of the Lord.
As Noel Richards wrote the song: ‘we want to see Jesus lifted high.’
Sometimes our worship may have strings attached but here we are encouraged to praise the Lord for who He is.
- PERSONAL TESTIMONY Verses 4-7
Although we may not know exactly the situation in which David found himself, it’s obvious that he is in the middle of a tough time.
He talks about ’delivered me from all my fears’; ‘this poor man cried and the LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.’
We need to remember two important truths.
- God’s people are not immune from fears and troubles. We are human beings.
- God does and will hear, answer, deliver, and save but all in His time and in accordance with His will.
Think of Job – a righteous man; a ruined man but a rejoicing man.
Read Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11.
In the midst of these troubles, where do we look, who do we call on and how can we be assured?
Verse 5 We look to Him.
Verse 6 We call on Him.
Verse 7 He is with us.
- BLESSED ASSURANCE Verses 8-10
Notice, again, the active verbs. We don’t sit down or sit back and wait for the Lord to make the first move.
- ‘taste and see that the LORD is good.’
- ‘take refuge in Him.’ He is our safe place, our retreat, the place we go when we are afraid
- ‘fear the LORD.’ To fear Him is to reverence Him, to worship Him, to acknowledge Him as sovereign.
Now notice the outcomes of these active verbs.
- ‘the LORD is good’
- ‘we are blessed’
- ‘we lack nothing’
David uses hungry lions as a visual aid to encourage us that He will provide our needs. This is not a prosperity theology.
It may be hard to accept when we are going through tough times; when God seems so far away.
Read verse 19 - ‘the righteous person may have many troubles…’
David encourages us to trust the LORD in those tough times.
Go back to the hymn I quoted at the beginning.
- LEARNING FROM THE LORD Verses 11-14
David takes us from praise to preach; from worship to word.
We need to listen and learn from our Teacher – “Come my children, listen to me.”
As we listen, such teaching must lead us to action.
Verse 13 ‘keep your tongue from evil’. Go to the letter James that he wrote to the scattered Jewish Christians. He doesn’t hold back as to how dangerous the tongue could be. James 3:1-12
Verse 14a ’turn from evil and do good’
And then the positives…
Verse 14b ‘seek peace and pursue it’
The challenge is to ask ourselves how teachable we are.
- THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD Verses 15-18
How encouraged we should be as we reflect on knowing that the LORD is with us and has promised never to leave us.
Verse 15a “my eyes”. He sees.
Verse 15b “my ears”. He hears.
Verse 17a “I hear”.
Verse 17b “I save”.
Verse 18 “I am near”.
Kirkpatrick says, ‘whilst the LORD promises deliverance, it Is not the same as exemption from such things, nor does it necessarily come when or how we want it.’
There is also the challenge that His face is turned away from ‘from those who do evil.’
- THE PROMISES OF THE LORD Verses 19-22
David brings us back again to the promise of the LORD – He is the great deliverer.
And he finishes with that word of prophecy that looks forward to the coming kingdom of God and of His Christ.
The wicked will be finished.
The persecutors will be condemned.
The LORD’s people will be rescued.
And here is the final promise – ‘No-one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.’
There is coming the day when deliverance will be complete; when evil will be finally overturned and the people of God will be redeemed, set free and brought into God’s eternal kingdom for ever.
2 Peter 3:13 ‘But in keeping with His promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.’