Psalm 34:1-10 Devotional
1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. 10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
April 1st is normally a melancholy day for me. Were my father still alive, today would be his 83rd birthday. Although he’s been gone for nearly 24 years, I remember his passing well. It was a time of spiritual growth for me as sadness was slowly replaced with Christ-enabled joy (to be clear, it was not happiness). The LORD blessed me in those days as I sat in a Minneapolis area hospital waiting room reading Pilgrims Progress, and as I sat through two memorial services in Minneapolis and Pensacola hearing the Kingdom impact that my dad had on so many. This is where I began to learn to ‘bless the LORD at all times.’ So, April 1st is a good day for me to turn to Psalm 34, and I ask you to join me there.
David had been caught between two enemies, Saul, the King of Israel, and Achish, the Philistine King of Gath. David escaped the wrath of Saul by running to Gath (1 Sam. 21:10), where he escaped the wrath of Achish by pretending to be insane (21:13-15). Psalm 34 seems to be David’s thankfulness to God for getting him out of the dire circumstances he was in, as well as his contriteness over not fearing God as much as he feared the two kings.
As the Psalm opens, David says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” ‘All times’ and ‘continually’ include the ideas of praising God no matter the circumstances. As Ephesians 5:20 says, “Always giving thanks for all things.” And, 1 Thess. 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (Bonus: Are you looking for God’s will for your life? Here’s one aspect of God’s will for you; give thanks no matter what’s going on around you.)
In verses 2 and 3, David’s worship of God continues (v. 2a); then we see his worshiping resulting in others first being encouraged (v. 2b), and then joining him in worship (v. 3). Verse 2 is reminiscent of Jeremiah 9:23-24 where the Lord tells us through the prophet, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things.” Reminds me of the comparison of the thorny soil (Mark 4:18-19) and the good soil (Mark 4:20). So TCO, “let us exalt His name together,” despite our current inability to be physically together. (See Psalm 18:46, 69:30, Luke 1:46, and others.)
In Psalm 34:4-7, David records the report of his deliverance, both from the two earthly kings and from his lack of proper fear of the Heavenly King. If you need some assurance that the Lord will answer if you seek Him, see 2 Chronicles 15:2b, Psalm 9:10, Matthew 7:7-11, as well as vv. 17-19 of the Psalm we are focusing on today. Please don’t interpret ‘poor’ in verse 6 in any kind of financial or materialistic way. Think of the first Beatitude (Matt. 5:3), where Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Good examples of a ‘poor man crying’ can be found in the prayer of the tax collector who said “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13), and the thief on the cross who, after recognizing his guilt and spiritual condition, said “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42). Did the Lord ‘hear’ and ‘save?’ Of course He did (see Luke 18:14 and 23:43). In verse 7, David tells us that he was delivered as the Lord surrounded him with heavenly protection. For similar descriptions of heavenly protection see Psalm 91:11-12, Daniel 6:22, and Acts 12:1-17.
With Psalm 34:8-10, David encourages those in need of the Lord’s protection and provision. Take a minute and reread these three verses. Just as ‘poor’ in verse 6 cannot be interpreted in a materialistic way, the same is true of ‘want’ in vv. 9 and 10. What the Lord will supply to those who ‘take refuge in Him’ (v. 8), ‘fear Him’ (v.9), and ‘seek the Lord’ (v.10) is not temporal prosperity, but enduring hope and a confidence in His provision.
These thoughts bring me back to what God did for me at the time in my life when I lost my dad, and what he has done for me since. I would just like to close these thoughts with another familiar Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” You know the Psalm, it’s the 23rd. I recommend reading it, stopping to meditate and pray after each verse.
- Read Psalm 34 in the New Living Translation (text above is NASB).
- Your Bible may have a title for Psalm 34 that says something like ‘A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.’ This is a reference to 1 Samuel 21:10-15. Abimelech was probably either a title given to the Philistine King Achish, or just a near translation of his given name (Achish meaning something like ‘the king gave’ in the Philistine language) into the Hebrew (Abimelech meaning ‘the King [God] is my Father’ in Hebrew).
- Regarding Psalm 34:6, Charles Spurgeon once said “God gives us prayer as a basket, and then he pours the blessings of his grace into it.” So, hold up your basket to God today!
- Go to the Psalter app that you downloaded on Monday. Navigate to Psalm 34 and read the first 10 verses in the English translation of this old Scottish text. Find the Tune Library, probably a button at the lower right corner of your screen. Change the tune to Auld Lang Syne. Using the text in the app, sing these first 10 verses to that familiar tune.