blog meditation Psalms

Meditation Psalm 34

Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me:
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

(Ps. 34:1-22 NIV)

This is a thanksgiving Psalm with a reflection on wisdom. The Psalmist begins his praise by telling of the Lord’s character and the many blessings that He gives. He cannot stop praising and vows to extol the Lord on every occasion. Because of what the Lord has done, the Psalmist has a song of praise on his lips. The Psalmist is boasting of what the Lord has done. He will not take any glory for himself by speaking about his own achievements.

When the heart is full of the Lord like this, it has to be shared with others. The Psalmist calls for all who are afflicted to hear about the Lord so that they too can join the praise of God. This is not just a private matter but public worship. Let us glorify the Lord together, let us exalt the name of the Lord together. The purpose of praise is not to make God’s people feel good, but to acknowledge the greatness of our God.

The Psalmist had experienced much sorrow, and he has spent time living with his fears. We can fear many things. Uncertainty can cause fear. We like to know what lies ahead, that helps us to get ready, and not knowing is unsettling. But the Psalmist doesn’t know what the future holds, but he is not discouraged because he knows who hold the future. Those who look to the Lord will have that look of fear removed from their faces, and their faces will light up with joy because the Lord will deliver them.

It is likely that the Psalmist is describing himself as the poor man, or perhaps he is pointing to someone else, either way does not materially alter the meaning. The person came in his poverty to God, and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all his troubles.

The Angel of the Lord is a term that is used about 50 times in the OT and may be a term that refers to an appearance of the Lord Himself. The uncertainty of the identity should not allow us to miss the point, that God sends His messenger to set up camp surrounding those who fear the Lord.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(Phil. 4:7 NIV)

The Psalmist calls upon us to taste, see and fear. The wise way to live is the Lord’s way, and is the blessed way. We can taste the Lord’s goodness, that is, we can experience the goodness of God toward us. This verse is a reminder of Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

(Ps. 23:1 NIV)

The lions may be weak from hunger, but those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing. The lions may not taste food and so grow weak, but those who seek the Lord will taste and see that the Lord is good.

V11 begins the teaching on wisdom. In wisdom literature the students of the sages are known as sons or children. The Psalmist speak as the wise sage and he teaches his students the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

(Prov. 1:7 NIV)

As Proverbs shows, the fear of the Lord is the early lesson that is taught in the school of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is expressed in our submission to the way of the Lord. There is a reward in this life for following the way of wisdom. If you love life, then the way of wisdom should be followed. This involves control of the tongue, speaking the truth, rejecting evil, doing good and pursuing peace with others.

The rewards of wisdom are described in v15-22. The eyes and ears of the Lord are on the righteous. The face of the Lord is against the wicked and in contrast to the many good days of the righteous, the memory of the wicked will be blotted out from the earth.

It is encouraging to read in the Word of God about crying out, about troubles, the brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit. God knows that we feel this way at times. When we are struggling it can add to our pain if we feel no-one really understands. The Spirit of God guided the Psalmist to include this list of sorrowful experiences. We are told that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. When we feel so low, we can feel guilty that we have allowed ourselves to feel like that and we wonder what God thinks of us. But here we are reassured that God is close to us in difficult times and God acknowledges in His word that these are very real experiences.

The righteous do not escape troubles, but the Lord will deliver us and help us through these troubles. The Lord protects His people. The protection of the bones is a metaphor for the Lord’s care for His people. The evil that the wicked practise will overcome them. All those who have persecuted the righteous will be condemned, but the Lord redeems His people and they will know no condemnation.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

(Rom. 8:1-2 NIV)

Lord help us to choose the wise way to live. Enable us to know more and more of Your goodness. We thank You Lord that Your eye is upon in every moment and that Your ear is attentive to our prayers. Help us to put our trust in You as we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen