particular type of Psalm is called Didactic – which is to say, a
teaching Psalm. Here is an example of that type. It is specifically designed
to be instructional and easy to memorize – at least in Hebrew.
a little background. This Psalm has 22 verses, the same number as the letters
in the Hebrew alphabet. In Hebrew, it is an acrostic. Each verse starts with
the next letter in the alphabet, which is an aid to memorization. That’s one
reason it’s classified as didactic; it was intended to be memorized by
background of the Psalm is noted at the top. Briefly, it is a Psalm about the
lessons David learned from his brief sojourn with King Acish. David was
running away from Saul. He stops on the way to obtain Goliath’s sword from the
high priest, and figures he will present himself and his services to the enemy
of his enemy, Acish. That’s David relying on the world’s methods, not God.
Acish’s lieutenants are not fooled and insist that David must go. In terror,
David feigns insanity. It’s a narrow escape.
you will see that the king in question is named Abimelech. Some have thought
that this is a scribal error; others note that the word “Abimelech” means
“father of the king.” It then could well be an official title for Acish
Psalms 34:1-3 NASB A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before
Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all
times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (2)
My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. (3) O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His
begins with the praise and blessing of the Lord. In any relationship, the
first step is to truly know and recognize who the other person is. So David
commands the following:
First, that we
should bless the Lord and praise him at all times. Our constant praise
of his name cements our relationship to him, for it acknowledges who he really is.
strength? Decide now whose strength you will rely upon – indeed, boast about.
If you are constantly telling the world how wonderful (and no doubt humble) you
are, God will allow you to handle things in your own strength. If you tell the
world how great God is, things change.
We are to exalt
his name together. The praise and blessing of God is not a solitary activity;
one of the purposes of worship is to praise and bless God for who he is and
what he has done.
Psalms 34:4-7 NASB I sought
the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. (5) They looked to Him and were radiant, And their
faces will never be ashamed. (6) This poor
man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. (7) The angel of the LORD encamps around those who
fear Him, And rescues them.
is an interesting change of pronouns here.
David tells us of how he (singular) sought the Lord. It’s as if to say
that even if no one else seeks the Lord, one is sufficient. The Lord will
deliver that one from all his fears.
then “they” looked to the Lord. They (plural) were “radiant,” it says.
It is the look of those who see God (the pure in heart). They will not be
ashamed – for God delivers them as well.
the picture David paints. It is not the king or the warrior who cries out to
God, but the poor man. It is the humble who are heard by God – and then
rescued. David pictures it as being the angel of the Lord (often a figure of
the pre-incarnate Christ) encamping around him. He sees the unseen, the
legions of heaven, and knows that God’s providential care will be given to him.
the Faith Along
well and good so far; but this is an instructional Psalm, so we need to
Psalms 34:8-10 NASB O taste
and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
(9) O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to
those who fear Him there is no want. (10) The
young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be
in want of any good thing.
is a very important concept: the experimental nature of faith. We are
familiar with the experience method – that faith must be absolute before any
results will be obtained. It’s often preached that way. But it is also true
that God invites his followers to “taste and see.” Experimental faith is not
condemned – but given as a method of learning about God. Two cautions:
faith in God – not necessarily his people. Remember that we have both the
weak and the hypocrites among us.
are blessed as you take refuge in him. That’s not you giving him
advice; that’s God sheltering you.
too that this is a relationship that is based on the fear of the Lord. We are
so accustomed to the “good buddy Jesus” relationship that we forget who the
awesome God is. But if you take refuge in him, did you really want refuge with
a good buddy, no stronger than you? Or did you seek the refuge of the awesome
and powerful Jehovah?
you do, it will not be long before you note that God treats you differently.
David makes the point in metaphor; you’d think the king of beasts would always
be able to feed the cubs. But even when food is that scarce, God provides.
to the children
Psalms 34:11-14 NASB Come,
you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (12) Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? (13) Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from
speaking deceit. (14) Depart from evil and do
good; Seek peace and pursue it.
learned the lesson, David now wants to pass it on.
and listen.” This is not something the kids are going to pick up by
osmosis. It’s important; they need to come to dad and listen
attentively. Put down the video game, kid – this is something you need.
offers them the means to a long and good life. This is not something you
do because you have to; you do it because it works.
– what does he recommend to the kids? They have the example – here are the
do’s and don’ts.
“depart from evil.” In other words, watch who you hang around with. What
are they doing? What kind of people are they?
“keep your tongue from evil.” Just because you can shoot your mouth off
doesn’t mean you should. Often enough you say something which commits you
to evil you did not intend. Speak the truth in love.
good. Examine your ways and ask if what you are doing is a good thing.
You’re going to be doing something; make it a good something.
peace. This must have been hard for David, who was a warrior since his
youth. But it must be so; always look to resolve the conflict. Blessed
are the peacemakers.
can see David’s experience with Acish in this. He went to join the enemies of
his people, telling them he would help them against Saul. Later, he realizes
the error of his ways – and God’s rescue from a tight place.
Psalms 34:15-22 NASB The
eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. (16)
The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from
the earth. (17) The
righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their
troubles. (18) The LORD is near to the
brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. (19) Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But
the LORD delivers him out of them all. (20)
He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken. (21)
Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be
condemned. (22) The LORD redeems the soul of
His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
need so often to be reminded of how God treats the righteous (even if the
righteous are fretting over it):
sees and hears what’s going on. You don’t have to explain it to him – but
you often have to acknowledge it. Don’t bother with giving him advice.
He already knows better than you. You should acknowledge that, too.
comforts his people. Often enough in the time of trial we ask for instant
rescue. Rescue comes when God finishes bringing you through trial. In
the meanwhile seek his comfort and be blessed by it.
delivers. One way or another, he delivers the righteous. At any given
moment the wicked look to have total sway, but be patient. It will pass.
hard part for most of us is that it seems that God is ignoring the evil and the
destruction they cause. He does not – but his purposes must be served as
well. It may be that he is giving them time to repent. It may be that he
wants to use them as a bad example to you (a cheap lesson). It may be that
there is some other divine purpose; why was the American Civil War so bloody?
Many at the time thought it the nation’s punishment for the Mexican War.
fact, God doesn’t ignore the evil, but is rather flint-faced toward them. You
think your prayers are unheard? How do you think God deals with the
self-righteous in prayer?
is a key to God’s treatment of the evil here. “Evil shall slay the wicked.”
What goes around, comes around. The universe is a moral place. The instrument
by which God destroys the evil is often another set of evil people.
at the last judgment, there will be a divine reckoning. May we point out the
kind of people God will rescue on that day?
are those who are his servants. Not just the hangers-on, the
uninvolved, but those who served.
are those who took refuge in him. Those who trusted their own
strength will see just how puny that strength is when Christ returns.
Those who cast their cares on Christ will see that return as pure joy.
– in the meanwhile, there will be trouble. It is the life of the Christian to
constantly have troubles and just as constantly have joy. For in times of
trouble God rescues his children, and his children rejoice in that fact.