Summary: A call to worship; living the life; deliverance.
1. O MAGNIFY THE LORD WITH ME
David was ‘on the run’ from king Saul. Mistakenly thinking that he might find refuge with the Philistines, he only escaped from their clutches by feigning madness (1 Samuel 21:10-15). Then he hid in a cave.
Knowing that David was in this place, his family came to encourage him. A company of some four hundred men in humbling circumstances also resorted to him (1 Samuel 22:1-2). The fugitive’s response was a combination of thanksgiving, witness, evangelism, and wisdom teaching (Psalm 34).
Psalm 34:1. For us to “bless the LORD” is to tell forth His goodness. What we say reflects Whose we are. What we speak about should reflect who we are in Him. To “bless the LORD” is to bow the knee in worship and praise.
The words which we speak effect our attitudes and behaviour. When we speak positively about the things of the LORD, good things can happen. The converse is also true: when we ‘speak up’ bad things, that’s often just what we get! David determined that the praises of the LORD should constantly be in his mouth.
Psalm 34:2. The ‘sweet Psalmist of Israel’ sought to honour God in what amounted to a public act of praise. This Psalm is not addressed to the LORD, but to the congregation. They are “the humble”: the poor, the lowly, the weak, and the afflicted. “Those in distress, those in debt, and the discontented” (1 Samuel 22:2).
Psalm 34:3. David’s testimony calls for a response, and participation.
Psalm 34:4. This encourages the once-fearful. “The LORD delivered me from all my fears.” Negative fears are the opposite of faith, and destructive to our peace and well-being.
Psalm 34:5. This could be the choir’s response to the voice of the soloist. The once-shameful respond with their own observation. “They looked to Him, and lightened were: not shamed were their faces.”
We are reminded of the glory of the LORD, reflected in the face of Moses. The idea of “being radiant” is echoed in Isaiah 60:5 (NRSV), as the people thrilled at the prospect of the abundance of the nations flowing to Zion. Also in Jeremiah 31:12 (NRSV), as they beamed with satisfaction at the goodness of the LORD.
We are also reminded of “the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). When we look to Him, the light of the LORD is reflected in our lives.
Psalm 34:6. Those in distress find their encouragement here. “This poor (humble) man cried…” This is answered prayer - even where prayer is scarcely articulated. “The LORD heard the cry of the children of Israel” in Egypt (Exodus 3:9). The LORD hears, and saves, and redeems us from trouble.
Psalm 34:7. The angel of the LORD is in the midst of the camp, surrounding those who have a right kind of fear - reverence and godly fear - toward the LORD. He is there to protect, and deliver.
Psalm 34:8. It is good to wake up in the morning with a word of worship in our mouths. It is good to speak well of the LORD throughout the day. It is good to lie down at night in praise and thanksgiving. Come, says David, “taste” His goodness with me.
We “taste and see” the goodness of the LORD when the words of the LORD have their rightful place in our lives (Psalm 119:103). Along with the good word of God, we also have a powerful foretaste of things to come (Hebrews 6:5). Peter encourages us in our desire for “the sincere milk of the word” which we have already tasted (1 Peter 2:2-3).
When we first believe, we savour the things of God, and put our trust in the LORD. We feast with Him in our day to day living. We draw nourishment from the table of the Lord, and all that the sacrament represents to us.
When the LORD blesses us, He adds something to us. He saves us from our sins, and redeems us from the full penalty of the law. He sends seasonable weather, and our crops are given increase. He grants health, wealth, wisdom, status, success - and children. The LORD protects us, and delivers us - and gives us “the peace that the world cannot give” (John 14:27).
2. “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.