Reflections of the Psalms

Posted on: October 26th, 2014

Psalm 34

When David was a fugitive and King Saul was trying to kill him, David often found himself in very difficult situations. On one occasion, we might say that he was “between a rock and a hard spot”. David had fled, from the land held by Israel, and had gone into the land of the Philistines to the city of Gath. David, who had been a deadly enemy of the Philistines for years, was exposed to the great danger of being recognized and killed. David’s fears were realized, because he was recognized by the servants of the king of Gath! To escape from certain death, David pretended to be insane. In disgust the king of Gath, Abimelech, had him thrown out of the city. His successful escape may have been the reason for David writing Psalm 34.

Obviously, we have not faced the same kind of situation that David faced in Gath, but we have found ourselves in very bad situations. We have also felt like we were “between a rock and a hard spot”! Sometimes, like David, we were able to get out of the situation that we faced. When that happened, as we relaxed in relief, what did we do? Well, we know what David did. He wrote a psalm of thanksgiving to God for his deliverance.

Unfortunately, too many Christians only turn to God when the trials of life get especially bad. Many view prayer as the “last resort”. Once the problems are gone, the need for prayer also disappears. But we must pray without ceasing. Every moment of our waking thoughts must include the continuous awareness of God and our dependence upon Him.

The motive behind the writing of Psalm 34 is important, but what David wrote also includes many important thoughts. In verse 6 David wrote, “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him; and saved him out of all his troubles”. In this verse, the humility of David shines forth. There he was a strong man, a successful warrior, a popular leader, and one anointed by Samuel. However, David knew that his strength and success came from God, and not from his own abilities.

From the realization of his dependence upon the Lord, he went forward to do the Lord’s will. What a lesson for Christians to follow today! Pride has been the downfall of too many capable Christians. Christian growth and maturity does not mean growing to the point that we don’t need God, or to feel that we are more “spiritual” than someone else. On the contrary! Maturity involves a growing and living dependence upon the Father, and a growing compassion for others. With God, all things are possible. Even though he made serious mistakes, David loved God with a reverential fear; and God blessed him. As Christians do the same thing today, great things begin to happen!

In verse 8 David wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” This is one of the real treasures of this psalm. God’s Plan of Redemption, the Word of God, and the offer of salvation in Christ are not things to be placed upon a pedestal. Faith in the Bible has never been based on unthinking obedience. Many totalitarian governments have demanded unquestioning obedience, but no one should blindly follow the scriptures. When the words of the Bible are from God, there is no fear that a mistake will be found, or something will be shown to be untrue. David urged his readers to “Taste and see…” Study and apply.

In addition, the teachings of the New Testament scriptures are not limited to a building on Sunday and Wednesday. God’s plan and instructions are intended for the job, school, family problems, defeats and victories. The more we taste and experience God and His Word, the more that we find that word to be essential for the day to day problems that ALL of us face. For any Christian, and for the Lord, the most beautiful thing in the world is a Bible worn out from study and use!

“Taste and see…” All a person has to do is look at people’s lives that are guided by the Bible and love the Lord. Then look at people’s lives that have no consideration of God. Every person begins as a small new born infant. Yet, look at the differences as people mature and make decisions. Look at nations that have been adamant in the rejection of God and His will. Look at the path was taken. Look at the suffering of the people. Look at the lack of hope. Yes indeed, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

In verses 9-10, David wrote, “O fear the LORD, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.” The Old and New Testaments speak of a “fear” of the Lord. For His people, especially today for Christians, that attitude is one of reverence, love, and an appreciation of the power and majesty of God. It is very much like the child-like love and trust that a child has toward his/her Father and Mother. This “fear of the Lord” leads to a desire, a willingness, to please and serve Him. The result leads to spiritual strength, spiritual focus, and spiritual peace.

In verse 10, David wrote, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger.” Young lions are at the peak of their power and abilities, but that does not guarantee success. Likewise, personal ability, strength, financial stability will never guarantee success in achieving any kind of lasting spiritual peace and hope. That only comes in the right relationship with the Living God and Father. David wrote in verses 13-14, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Good instruction for any age.

In verses 17 and 19 David wrote, “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them . . . a righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Notice that the righteous will face problems. When they do happen, the righteous automatically turn to the Lord.

The Lord has never promised a trouble-free life for His people. That is why a constant, personal relationship with the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, is so crucial. David’s strength and his success were directly linked with His God. How much more is that true for God’s children?

Jim Shelburn