Read Psalm 34
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
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 telling 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 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
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 The righteous person 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.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
The historical context for Psalm 34 comes from 1 Samuel 21-22. At this point, David was literally fearing for his life, living on the run from King Saul. David sought refuge from the Philistines, but when they began to realize who he was, he feared for his life again and pretended to be insane to protect himself. The Message version of 1 Samuel 21:13 says, “When David realized that he had been recognized, he panicked, fearing the worst from Achish, king of Gath. So right there, while they were looking at him, he pretended to go crazy, pounding his head on the city gate and foaming at the mouth, spit dripping from his beard.” David then escaped to a cave where (the sub-heading tells us) he likely wrote this Psalm.
It’s important for us to realize that when David wrote this Psalm boasting of the goodness of God, he had not been delivered from danger⏤he was in the midst of it! We can learn from the behavior David models that we should stop and worship God when we are in the middle of ongoing uncertainty. We can safely assume that David is afraid, more than likely panicked, and has quite a long list of things to worry about. Yet, he begins this Psalm with the utmost adoration for the majesty and deliverance of the Lord.
In addition, David is inviting friends, family, and readers (us!) to not just take his word for the refuge that is found in God. He wants us to actively experience God’s refuge and know it for ourselves. Verse 8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
As a result of Covid-19, many people have experienced losing their taste. Anyone who has had this unfortunate experience knows that it significantly impacts their enjoyment of food. You can look at a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie, but if you can’t taste all of the delicious flavors when you chew it up, you can’t fully enjoy it. In much the same way, David is encouraging us to not just know about God, but to truly taste and see Him⏤to digest His word, His provision, and His protection.
David was actively seeking the Lord in the midst of danger. We should learn from his experience that taking refuge in God’s presence in the midst of danger is far better enjoying comfort or safety apart from God. No matter what storms await us tomorrow, may we proclaim today, as David does in verse 3, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”
- Even though David is in the midst of a terrible situation, he is determined to praise the Lord. What is your initial response when you find yourself in a troubling situation?
- The entirety of Psalm 34 boasts of the goodness of God. What does boasting of the goodness of God do for your heart and mind?
- What are some storms that you need to stop focusing on so that you can set your heart on believing in God’s promises and goodness?