I believe Psalm 34 teaches us that no matter how we got into the fix we are in, if we call out to God, He will rescue us.
LET’S THINK ABOUT IT
A psalm is in my heart today. I’ve read this psalm countless times. It has been my primary text for numerous lessons. Scholars tell us it is an acrostic poem, with the verses beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which made it easier to remember and recite. This psalm, which is attributed to David, is generally thought to reflect on the time he spent in Gath under Abimelech’s control.
Interestingly, David’s time in Gath began of his own choosing. He fled there in order to escape Saul. However, this refuge seems to have become a place of confinement. 1 Samuel 21:13 reports, “…he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.” David’s scheme, which resulted in the king of Gath being repulsed by him, enabled him to flee to the cave of Adullam.
Or, did it? It might be more accurate to observe that David’s plan actually got him into this mess. Furthermore, the psalm under consideration, Psalm 34, contains strong indication that only by God’s grace is David delivered from his plight. I can really relate to David. What I think is an ingenious strategy for dealing with a problem, often leaves me in need of deliverance. Does that ever happen to you?
SOME REALLY GOOD NEWS
I believe Psalm 34 teaches us that no matter how we got into the fix we are in, if we call out to God, He will rescue us. That’s good news, isn’t it? This belief is based on what we read in verses 4 and 6. In Psalm 34:4 we read, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Then, in 34:6 we read, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” Clearly, David’s deliverance was the result of God’s doing, not his own devices.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
Beyond this obvious main point, I take four additional ideas away from this psalm. These are:
1. Comfort – David clearly was comforted by the sense he had of God’s nearness to and concern for him. What a solace it must have been for him to be reminded through this crisis that “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (34:7).
2. Confidence – David declares his confidence in God. Concerning God’s character and faithfulness, he reports in rapid succession: Taste and see that the Lord is good; those who take refuge in Him are blessed; those who fear Him lack nothing; and, those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (vs. 8-10).
3. Caution – Comfort and confidence are tempered by the lesson we all learn when we’ve journeyed through challenging times. We need to be cautious about the way we live our lives. Since we can often be our own worst enemies, we need to exercise self-control when it comes to the things we say and do. Verses 11-16 make this clear. Here David writes:
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 speaking 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 the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
4. Conviction — This psalm ends with the kind of conviction that should stir the hearts and souls of everyone who ever reflects on this inspired record of David’s thoughts. He observes:
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 A righteous man 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.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When this psalm is viewed from this perspective, there is little wonder why David began it by exclaiming:
“1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”
© Bill Williams, a fellow sojourner
September 7, 2016