Everyone who has ever experienced God’s salvation in any form has a testimony to tell. It is in our witness that other people learn of the amazing power of God to save from seemingly impossible situations. In the psalm this week, Psalm 34, David, with eloquence, energy, and enthusiasm testified to the goodness of God who saved him from being killed by the Philistine king of Gath, known as Achish.
Salvation is a gift from a wonderful God, and it demonstrates His unfailing love for His people, so, the recipient of salvation should display a grateful heart, praising God and extolling His virtues, and that is what David did in this beautiful psalm. David testified from a heart of gratitude, exhorting others to come and know his wonderful Lord, who offers free and full salvation. The message today is still that salvation is free and good, but, even more important, the Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, is good.
Psalm 34: 1-3 I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
David began by boldly declaring that he planned to praise the Lord, or bless the Lord with praise, at all times, meaning that every day, no matter what was happening, whether good or bad, in his life, he would open his mouth and praise God, and only God. He recognized that no one else was responsible for his salvation. He invited those who felt discouraged or dismayed at the events in their lives to join him in exalting God’s name, meaning testifying of God’s greatness.
David understood that gratitude is the right attitude. There is a song that says,” If I had 10,000 tongues, I couldn’t tell it all.” These words remind us that there is always something to be thankful for, whether it is each breath we take, food to eat, clothes to wear, and, even in sickness, thanks for resilient bodies that can heal. If you have a little heat from the cold, and a little cold from the heat, then praises to God are due.
Too often, we do not praise God except for miraculous changes, but last week in the news was the story of parents and their children found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning, as they were sleeping in their car. So, if we have a roof over our heads and beds, whether comfortable or not, then we should join David and praise God continuously.
In 2 Kings 7:3-11 is the story of four lepers who unexpectedly found themselves blessed beyond measure, with more wine, food, clothes, and other plunder than they could handle. They at first hid their bounty from others, but then they said, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone.” They immediately went to tell the other people. That’s how we must be when blessed by God, sharing our resources and blessings with others and giving God the praise, remembering not to boast like we did it for ourselves.
Psalm 34: 4-7 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
To fully understand David’s joy and enthusiasm for the salvation of God, we must read 1 Samuel 21 and 22. Twice God saved him from death, from King Saul and from King Achish. Therefore, David believed that God heard and answered his prayers, and that his salvation from death was attributable to God’s help. He testified that in his desperation, he prayed, and God saved him from all of his troubles, sparing him the shame of capture and leaving him with radiant joy that showed in his face. David knew that the presence of he Lord was always with him, acutely aware of his sorrows and tears.
In Psalm 56: 8-9, David wrote these beautiful words, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!” So, David had no fears, not of death, what the future might hold for him, or how he would have his basic needs met.
Can you imagine all of your tears gathered in a bottle? I know for me, it would be more like ten bottles! But, the thought that God sees every tear shed and records them in a book gives us such confident hope that our tears are not in vain, and that our cries do not go unnoticed by a merciful, compassionate, and gracious Lord. David also knew that God was with him, present by his side, in the form of angels encamped around him, defending and delivering him, because he feared the Lord.
Once a man stopped and prayed for my sick little boy, who, having contracted meningitis, had run a fever for 18 days and was in danger of being permanently physically and mentally challenged. When he stopped praying, he told me that when I arrived at the hospital that night, my son would be well, and he was! I remember thanking Jesus for the angels that encamp around those who fear the Lord and deliver them.
Psalm 34: 8-14 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
David invited people to try God for themselves, asking them to taste and see that the Lord is good. He wanted them to put their whole trust in God, and not in anything or anyone else. David understood that only God provided for His people, ensuring that they lacked nothing good in their lives. It did not mean that the godly were without troubles, as witnessed by David’s testimony and life. Instead, it meant that when troubles came, God would be present to help.
To fear for the Lord was to acknowledge His majesty, dominion, and power. Matthew 10:28 states, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” It means understanding the words of Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” For me, I respect His power and ability to do whatever He wants in this realm and in the spiritual realm, even as I am grateful for His mercy and grace toward me. The very heavens and earth declare the reality of Him for me.
David asserted that the keys to a long and prosperous life for the godly were restraining from speaking evil and of telling lies. A liar often has a short life and, because no one can trust them to be truthful, they seldom keep or find jobs. Also, the godly were required to shun evil, doing good, meaning obeying the Law, and to be a peacemaker, rather than a peace breaker. These are all things that God required of His people.
Psalm 34: 15-21 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! Calamity will surely destroy the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
In many of his psalms, David expressed the notion of two very different groups of people, with varying consequences for their lives: the godly and righteous who serve the Lord, and the wicked who do evil in the sight of God. David asserted that God hears the cries of the godly and watches over them, rescuing them in the times of troubles.
As noted above, the righteous and godly can face troubles, finding themselves brokenhearted and crushed. But be cheered, for 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 states, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
And Romans 5: 3-5 reminds us, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
So, for the godly there is the good news that we must not worry or fret about trials, but wait patiently for Jesus Christ our Lord to intervene on our behalf. But it is not so for the ungodly, wicked, and evil people who disobey the word of the Lord and hate the righteous. The Lord will turn his face away from them, not seeing or taking notice of their problems and calamities, which are events that cause great and often sudden damage or distress. These events have the power to destroy the ungodly, and they have no one to help them.
Psalm 34:22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
But the godly will be redeemed. Today, our redemption is through the blood of Jesus Christ the Lord. On an old rugged cross, He paid the full price for our sins, with His broken body and spilled blood. He is on the right hand of God, intervening in our lives. Hebrews 7:25 states, “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” The songwriter testifies, “My Redeemer lives!” Hallelujah!
And David reminded us that everyone who takes refuge in the Lord will not be condemned. Romans 8:1-2 reminds us, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” No condemnation means that we are justified, made right with God, through the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven, and though they were like scarlet, they are now white as snow.
This beautiful psalm is a testimony to a glorious God. David, the man after God’s own heart, had through many trials and troubles, especially King Saul trying to kill him, found the Lord God to be faithful to His promises of safety and provision. David enthusiastically calls for the people to come and try his God, assuring them that God would be a present help to those who feared Him, saving them from all of their troubles and alleviating their fears.
Today, I welcome you to come know my Savior and my God, Jesus Christ, who is still able to save and help. Come and let us exalt His name together!
Dear Heavenly Father, Abba,
Thank you for all that You do on a daily basis for us. Thank you for new and tender mercies every day. Oh, Lord, You are my Redeemer and my Rock, so I will not fear, knowing that you did not give us a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind. What love You show to us who fear you and exalt You to the highest. Lord, I pray healing, comfort, strength, and provision to all, according to their needs, praising You in advance for Your work in our lives. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.