Let’s end this week with Psalm 34
This is a psalm that can help us to overcome discouragement. If we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d we have wonderful promises for now, but we also have promises of future victory.
Inscription (v1 in the Hebrew Bible): This Psalm is written by David when he pretended to be insane (publicly humiliated in front of people). For the context of what he was going through when he wrote it read 1 Sam 21:10-15, 22:1-2. In this inscription they have translated the kings name as “Abimelech” but in Hebrew this is simply a title of the king and not necessarily the name of a specific king. Samuel tells us the name of this king was Achish. David was at a very low point in his life. He was fleeing from Saul and had gone to Achish (an enemy king) for help. He realised that he was going to get no help from Achish so had to pretend to be mad in order to escape being killed by Achish. David had no safe place to go except to a cave, where a whole lot of discontented people gathered around him.
v1: When David was in this lowest of low places (“at all times”) he chose to continue to praise G-d. This shows a high degree of spiritual intelligence. Blessing the L-rd has to do with saying good things about Him – no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Praising G-d brings Him into our circumstances and allows Him to change them.
v2: When we are “in the L-rd” (in His will, Presence etc) our souls have the ability to experience G-d…our souls are changed. When we are in situations that have the potential to cause us to despair we need to praise G-d as He will give us a different perspective.
- The humble shall hear: We should want to be used by G-d (in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in) in order to be an encouragement to others.
v3: David is not being shy in the midst of this. He is using these circumstances as a way of bringing people together who may also be discouraged, also going through hard times (1 Cor 10:13). He is calling on others to participate with him in magnifying the L-rd.
v4: The word translated ‘sought’ here is a word of great intensity or fervency. David sought the L-rd with all of his strength.
- All my fears – those things that bring terror into our lives. David knows that G-d delivered him in the past and he has confidence that in his current hardship G-d is going to remain faithful to bring him through it too.
v5: When we are in a covenantal relationship with G-d we can have an expectation that He is going to move. When we look to G-d He gives us His perspective on things, our faces become radiant, we receive illumination/revelation from Him (He responds).
- We will not be ashamed/humiliated/disgraced because G-d’s help is on its way. We should expect a victory (if not in this life then in the eternal life to come).
v6: All fears (v4)…all troubles (this verse): David knows that G-d’s deliverance from all that would harm us is a sure thing. David has seen G-d’s faithfulness in the past and he knows G-d will be faithful into the future.
v7: The Angel of the L-rd is different to regular angels.
v8: Taste: This is a command to experience G-d, to put His Word into action.
- Trusts – ie takes refuge in
v9: To fear the L-rd means to give Him priority. When we give G-d priority in every area of our lives we are going to want for nothing.
v10: Young lions are strong lions. They are usually able to endure a lot. Here we see them reaching a place where they are in lack – unlike those who seek (again, a word of intensity) the L-rd who will never lack any good thing (good = in the will of G-d)
We have a choice – we can depend upon ourselves (this world) with all the desire we can muster up, but this is going to lead to a wrong perspective and eternal bankruptcy, or we can choose to depend on the L-rd which will lead to eternal reward.
v11: David is extending an invitation. A great prayer we can pray is that G-d will lead us to someone who can teach us how to fear the L-rd, how to live out our lives in a practical way that demonstrates that we give G-d priority. We will only grow and mature spiritually when G-d is the priority in our lives.
v12: Is this our desire?
- Loves many days – ie excited about the future, looking forward to the future.
- See (that which is) good: to see G-d’s will being experienced in our own lives as well as in the lives of others.
v13: We need to be people who guard our tongues from evil (saying those things that aren’t within the will of G-d) and from speaking deceit (sly or cunning intelligence – wilful sin). Those people who do not pursue the will of G-d are going to be people who give very poor counsel.
v14: Only with G-d’s help can we turn from evil – those things that are not in His will for our lives – and do good (those things that are part of His will for our lives). Peace is related to the fulfilment of G-d’s will. Peace is only found in doing G-d’s will. It is wise to find out what G-d’s will for our life is and to pursue it. Only within the will of G-d can the Holy Spirit change our lives and give us a great testimony in Him.
v15: This is another benefit we experience when we are in G-d’s will.
- It is through the gospel that we are declared ‘’righteous’.
- ‘Their cry’ – ie their cry for help is the implication here. How do we ensure that we receive G-d’s help? That He’ll respond to our cries? By being committed to His will, committed to those things that are pleasing to Him.
v16: The face of the L-rd – ie His Presence. Those who do not do the will of the L-rd will not experience His Presence/His blessing.
- Cut off – related to a covenant. When G-d cuts their memory from earth they have no Kingdom promises or blessings. They have no future.
v17-18: When we are committed to G-d’s will He moves to deliver us, to save us. When we are committed to the things of G-d we can be assured that He is watching over us, providing for us so that we are able to fulfil His purposes etc
v19: As believers we are not promised an absence of hardship. We are told that we will suffer, experience tribulation etc (James 1:2-3). We are also told that G-d will ultimately deliver us from these.
v20: Bones have to do with foundation, that which gives support, that which holds things together. The foundation that we as believers have in Yeshua our Messiah is found in His Word, in His truth.
v21: Slay – kill, bring death to. When we engage in that which is wicked it is going to have an adverse effect in our lives (Roms 6:23). That’s why it’s so important that we turn from evil and do good.
- Not only are the wicked going to die but they are also going to receive condemnation – they are going to be guilty, be ashamed…forever.
v22: The L-rd redeems – He Himself makes a payment for.
- When we trust in G-d that trust is going to cast out discouragement (never condemned). When we are discouraged it’s because we are focusing upon what the enemy’s up to rather than what G-d is up to.