Summary: Building upon his own recent experience of deliverance and answered prayer, David became an encourager.
O CHILDREN HITHER DO YE COME
Building upon his own recent experience of deliverance and answered prayer, David became an encourager. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ comforts and consoles us not only for our own benefit, but so that we might ‘pass it on’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). The fugitive had just called upon his congregation to “taste and see” (Psalm 34:8) in order to comprehend - and apprehend - the goodness of the LORD.
Psalm 34:9. Now he addressed them as “saints” (sanctified ones). Yet some of these people had only just turned up in David’s life, and were a mixed band of humble folks (Psalm 34:2): the poor, the lowly, the weak, and the afflicted. If the Septuagint heading to the Psalm is to be believed, they were “those in distress, those in debt, and the discontented” (1 Samuel 22:2).
Preachers are sometimes well advised to address their hearers as believers rather than assuming that everyone needs converting. It is probably better to give people the benefit of the doubt, rather than sitting in judgement on their souls. As John Calvin once said, ‘The Lord alone knows who the elect are.’
David advised the saints to “fear” the LORD. The better translation is “revering Yahweh” - not so much being afraid of the God of Israel as respecting Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and singling Him out for praise and worship. He is, after all, the one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Isaiah 45:5; 1 Corinthians 8:4).
This type of “fear” - if we may still call it that - is the antidote for the dread fears and terrors of Psalm 34:4. It reaps a result. When we trust the LORD in this way, we “have no want”.
Psalm 34:10. When we respect the LORD aright, we will “seek” Him (Psalm 105:4; Isaiah 55:6). Good results follow (Matthew 6:33). He sends seasonable weather, and our crops are given increase. He grants health, wealth, wisdom, status, success - and children.
Those who trust in their own strength - even like the “young lions” of the illustration here - will know lack, and hunger. When we “seek” Him, we shall “lack no good thing”. This reminds us of Psalm 23.
Psalm 34:11. The Psalmist goes on to elaborate what it means to “fear the LORD”.
The Scottish metrical version reads:
“O children, hither do ye come,
And unto me give ear;
I will you teach to understand
how ye the Lord should fear.”
David addresses his hearers as “children” - like disciples receiving instruction at the feet of their Rabbi.
Psalm 34:12. This anticipates the wisdom teachings of Solomon. The “come” of Psalm 34:11 is extended to a ‘whosoever’ in Psalm 34:12 and in Proverbs 9:4-6. The offer of life in Psalm 34:12 is echoed in Proverbs 9:11.
The offer is, ‘do good if you wish to receive good’ - not unlike Jesus’ Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). For Christians this is not so much ‘do good in order to be good’ - the “this do and live” of salvation by works - but ‘do good because you are good’. Righteousness is “by grace through faith” - but we are saved “unto” good works (Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 2:10).
Having received the gift of grace, we are summoned throughout Scripture to live the life, and do the deeds of the righteous - and where we are able, to right the wrongs that we come up against in the world (Micah 6:8; James 1:27).
Psalm 34:13. David began this Psalm with God’s praises in his mouth (Psalm 34:1). Having shared his testimony, he then invited his congregation to “taste” the goodness of the LORD (Psalm 34:8). Now he opens the ethical part of his Psalm with an exhortation to guard our tongues from evil (cf. James 3:5; James 3:10).
Psalm 34:14. We are to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). As recipients of “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1), we are to actively seek peace: and to make every effort to live in peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14). This is in fulfilment of our blessedness, and is an ongoing duty of our role as the “children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
The Apostle Peter echoes the wisdom teaching of this section (1 Peter 3:10-12).