Summary: A study in Psalm 34: 1 – 22

Psalm 34: 1 – 22

He acted like a ‘questionable character’

A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. 1 I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

I just heard last week that there is a new politically correct title for a criminal or prisoner. The new term will be a ‘judicial involved person.’ So, in response I asked this person what would be the proper description of a prisoner who tried climbing over a wall by a rope? She replied that it would be ‘a judicial involved person seeking freedom by an alternative method. I responded that her reply sounds ‘con-descending’.

I wanted to title today’s study as ‘He acted like a nut’ but I thought what would be the politically correct word?

Today we are going to go over a Psalm written by David when he had to pretend to be insane (Questionable Character) while in the midst of the enemy’s home turf.

The Psalm is one of thanksgiving and praise. Its heading is a further mystery. It indicates that the Psalm was written having in mind David’s deliberate change of behavior before the ‘king’ of Gaza, a Philistine city, when he feigned madness (1 Samuel 21.10-15), but there is not a great deal in the Psalm to indicate that, which may be seen as a strong argument for its genuineness. However, having said that, verses 4 & 5 could have had that deliverance in mind on behalf of David and his men, and ‘this poor man’ in verse 6 could refer to himself in his desperate expedient, with verse 7 then indicating how he felt that YHWH had protected him. So, it is not wholly devoid of connection.

A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.

As mentioned above the only connection between the heading and the Psalm is found in verses 5-7. Certainly, it must have been a dreadful shock for David and the few fugitives who had fled with him when they arrived in Gaza hoping to find refuge there, only to face the fact that some of the leading figures were intent on seeking his life (1 Samuel 21.11 onwards). To feign madness when he was eventually brought before the king of Gaza must have been humiliating for him, although he and his men no doubt had a good laugh about it afterwards. That he was willing to do it demonstrates the extreme tension that he must have felt. ‘I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears. They (he and his companions) looked on him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed (as they would have been had He failed to fulfil His promises of protection)’ (verses 4-5). And thinking back to when he was alone in the king’s presence feigning madness and scrabbling on the floor, the description ‘poor one’ (verse 6) must have seemed an apt description. Furthermore, on escaping back to his companions we can well imagine that he felt that YHWH had surrounded him with His angels (verse 7). How else could his precarious plan have succeeded? The lesson well learned may then explain the remainder of the Psalm.

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