Psalm 34

from the Believers Bible Commentary:

Psalm 34: Psalm of the New Birth
The historical background of this Psalm is found in 1 Samuel 21. In his flight from Saul, David had sought refuge with the Philistine king of Gath whose name was Achish, or Abimelech, according to the heading of the Psalm. (Abimelech may have been a title rather than a personal name.) Fearing that this enemy king might kill him, David had pretended to be crazy by making marks on the doors of the gate and letting his saliva drool down over his beard. The trick worked. The king didn’t need any more madmen and so he dismissed David, who then escaped to the cave of Adullam. This episode was certainly not one of the more heroic or brilliant chapters in the psalmist’s checkered career, but he nevertheless looked back upon it as a dramatic deliverance by the Lord, and so he wrote this Psalm to celebrate that event.
Believers down through the centuries have loved Psalm 34 because it expresses so eloquently their own testimony of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord. Let’s look at the Psalm in this light.
34:1 Salvation from sin is a gift of such tremendous value that it should draw unceasing thanks from our hearts to the Giver. If we were to bless the LORD at all times, it could hardly be too much. If His praise were to be continually on our lips, we couldn’t begin to exhaust the subject. No human tongue will ever be able to thank God adequately throughout all eternity.
34:2 The converted person boasts in the LORD—not in his own character or achievements. When we understand the gospel of grace we realize that we did all the sinning and Christ did all the saving. So our boast must be in Him alone. If those who are still in the grip of sin will hear and heed our testimony of full and free salvation, they too will joyfully awaken to realize that there is hope for them as well.
34:3 The well-saved soul isn’t content to enjoy his redemption in isolation. The subject is so superlative that he calls on all his brotherhood to magnify the LORD with him and to exalt His name collectively. Some couples have this reference inscribed on their wedding rings.
34:4 When the Spirit of God begins to brood over the soul of the sinner, He implants in it a divine instinct to seek the LORD. Only later does the saved sinner realize that it was the Lord who was the original Seeker! It is as the hymn says:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true.
No, I was found of Thee.
—Anonymous
Still, when we seek Him He answers, delivering us from all our fears—the fear of the unknown future, the fear of dying with our sins unconfessed and unforgiven, the fear of standing before the Judgment of the Great White Throne. When we trust Christ as Lord and Savior we hear His words of absolution: “Your sins are forgiven; go in peace!”
34:5 But this is not a private salvation—it is available to all. All those who look to Christ in faith become radiant. Frowns are transmuted to smiles of joy, and depression and despair give way to delight. No one who commits his life to the Lord will ever be disappointed; He cannot fail the trusting heart.
34:6 We come to Him in our poverty and rags, our humiliation and helplessness, and gladly confess our inability to procure our own salvation. We put our whole trust in Him. Our language is:
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
The LORD hears our cry. Our poverty appeals to His unlimited resources. He stoops down and saves us out of all our troubles—out of the tangled web of sin which we had woven by our own hands.
34:7 The believer is not only saved, but kept as well. The angel of the LORD, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, serves as an encircling garrison for those who fear Him, delivering them from dangers seen and unseen. No sheep of His can ever perish (Joh_10:28).
34:8, 9 Those who know the Savior long to share Him with others. Like the four lepers in Samaria, they say, “We are not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we are silent and do not speak up” (2Ki_7:9, Amplified Bible). And so the evangel rings out, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
This is the authentic, urgent invitation to the unconverted. We may reason, argue, resort to logic and marshal Christian evidences, but when all is said and done, a man must taste and see for himself. Campbell Murdoch writes:
We may argue about God, His existence, and the external evidences which the universe and providence provide. But only when His love and presence touch our hearts can we really know Him in His unspeakable goodness.
Then follows the invitation to the converted. It is the call to the life of faith. The saints are invited to walk by faith and not by sight, and to experience God’s marvelous, miraculous, and abundant provision. It is the message of Mat_6:33 :
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34:10 While young lions sometimes lack food and suffer hunger, those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing, for our Lord Jesus Christ is our great, all-sufficient Provider!
34:11 The grace of God not only saves, keeps, and provides but it instructs as well.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Tit_2:11-14).
So here the psalmist offers practical instruction to his sons on what constitutes the true fear of the LORD.
34:12-15
1. A controlled tongue—one that is free from evil and deceit.
2. A separated walk—separated from evil and separated to good works.
3. A peaceable disposition—as Paul said, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom_12:18).
Peter states in 1Pe_3:9, “Knowing that you were called to this [blessing others], that you may inherit a blessing.” He then quotes verses 12-16a of this Psalm to reinforce his teaching that we should not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but that we should rather bless. The blessing is the favor of the Lord; His eyes are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry (Psa_34:15).
34:16 In quoting verse 16, Peter confined himself to the first half:
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil.
He did not quote the rest, which says: To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
The first part of the verse is true in any age. The second half will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth as King of kings.
34:17 The righteous have the unspeakable privilege of instant audience with the LORD. He hears them every time they cry and delivers them out of all their troubles. Barnes comments here, “No one has ever fully appreciated the privilege of being permitted to call upon God, the privilege of prayer.”
Before leaving verse 17 we should note that the Lord does not deliver us from troubles; He delivers us out of them. Believers are not immune to troubles, but they do have a Mighty Deliverer! That’s the crucial difference.
34:18 The LORD knows how to resist the proud, but He cannot resist a broken and contrite heart. He keeps Himself accessible to the brokenhearted, and is always on hand to rescue the crushed in spirit.
34:19 As already mentioned, the righteous do have many afflictions. Perhaps we will find someday that we have had more than the ungodly. But at least all our troubles are confined to this life. What is more, we do not have to bear them alone, for our eternal Friend is by our side. We have the assurance of complete and final deliverance from afflictions through the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Because He has risen from the dead, we too shall rise someday, forever free from sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, and death!
34:20 But even in death, the Lord protects the bodies of His saints:
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
This verse was fulfilled literally at our Lord’s death:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken” (Joh_19:33, Joh_19:36).
In this, of course, our Lord was the perfect “Antitype” of the paschal lamb, about which it was written:
“Nor shall you break one of its bones” (Exo_12:46).
34:21, 22 The last two verses of the Psalm hinge on the word “condemned.” As for the wicked, calamity shall bring them down in death, and they shall be condemned. But the servants of Jehovah have One who redeems their soul, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. Praise God, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! (See Rom_8:1.)
Who shall condemn us now?
Since Christ has died, and ris’n, and gone above,
For us to plead at the right hand of Love,
Who shall condemn us now?
—Horatius Bonar
And so the believer is saved, kept, and abundantly satisfied for time and eternity. It’s a wonderful thing to be born again! That is the message of this Psalm.

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