Psalm 34 (New American Standard Bible)
A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 (NIV)
That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:
” ‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”
David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”
So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there.
This joyful and wise Psalm may have been written from Adullam cave, and sung in the presence of those men who joined David there.
The structure of this Psalm is acrostic, or nearly so. Each verse begins with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet, except for the letter waw. The purpose in this Psalm mainly seems to be as a device used to encourage learning and memorization.
1I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
“He may have acted like a fool, but he was not so foolish as to neglect praise of him who was his only true wisdom. He may have been hiding in a dismal cave, but this psalm tells us that in his heart he was hiding in the Lord.”
–James Montgomery Boice
3O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
Mankind has succeeded quite well in reducing God to a pitiful nothing! The God of the modern context is no God at all. He is simply a glorified chairman of the board, a kind of big businessman dealing in souls. The God portrayed in much of our church life today commands very little respect.
We must get back to the Bible and to the ministration of God’s Spirit to regain a high and holy concept of God.
To know the Creator and the God of all the universe is to revere Him. It is to bow down before Him in wonder and awesome fear. God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big.
–A. W. Tozer
4I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
A missionary was leaving Hungary after a number of years working there while the country was still within the Soviet orbit. As he was crossing the border checkpoint, a border guard said to him, “You are leaving? I’m always sad when the believers go.”
“How did you know I was a believer?” the missionary inquired.
“Oh, I know all the believers,” the guard replied. “I know them by the light in their eyes.”
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34: 5).
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
8O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
1 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
9O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
10The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
The triumph and joy of this Psalm is so clear, it is easy to forget the life context of the Psalm. “It is for people who find themselves at the absolute low point in life, which is where David was. Or find themselves between a rock, which in this case was King Saul, and a hard place, which was King Achish. It is for you when everything seems against you.”
–James Montgomery Boice
11Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
13Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
2 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)
Rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
15The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw:
The words of Psalm 34 do not mean that whoever comes to Christ and lives for Him will have no fear, no trouble, and no need. Instead, the psalmist says that the person who trusts in God will find that fear is never the last word. Trouble is never the final answer. Need is never the ultimate reality. When the story is over, the fear will be conquered; God will have delivered. The trouble will be mastered, and God will have freed the believer. The needs in life will have been met, and God will have provided for every need.
There would have been no impetus to write this song if the psalmist had never had any fear, any trouble, or any need. It is when you have been scared to death, and God has brought you out of the trouble, that you can sing God’s praise. When you are in a tight place and call out to Yahweh, who is your only hope, you are in a situation ripe for a miracle. When you have no way to pay your bills and God provides, then you walk away while singing His praises.
The trouble itself turns our minds to Christ and gives Him the opportunity to show himself good and powerful in our lives.
18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
John 19:31-37 (NIV)
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water . . . These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
21Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
This is such fun to watch! On Resurrection Sunday, 2010, in Budapest, Hungary, over 1,300 young people, all of them members of Faith Church, celebrated/magnified – praised – blessed the Lord/ exalted his name! (I wonder what our Soviet-era missionary would think if he could see this!)
Faith Church is Hungary’s largest evangelical church. Over the past 30 years, it has planted more than 200 other churches, opened a theological academy, established a network of elementary and high schools, published newspapers and books which give reliable information, and led charity outreaches in Hungary and around the world. Some 60,000 people regularly attend Sunday morning worship, with hundreds of thousands more watching the two-hour broadcast on television. It is clear that the Lord is at work HERE at Faith Church!