Psalm 34 is a premium example of how to pray. Christians today need to know how to pray. Our Lord's own disciples, upon observing Him praying, asked Him to teach them to pray. He responded with the Model Prayer (Matt. 6:9-15; Luke 11:2-4). Although He did teach them some new elements of prayernamely, the relationship between having a forgiving attitude and being forgiven by the Fathermuch of what He summarized there can easily be found in the prayers of the Bible, found mostly in the Psalms. Thus, it is beneficial to examine Psalm 34, comparing it with the Model Prayer.
I will bless the Lord at all times. What is the meaning of the word bless? How do we bless the Lord? There are two meanings for the word bless. When we "bless" the Lord, it is like what we do when we recite a eulogy for someone at his or her funeral. We say nice things about them. Likewise, to bless the Lord is to say nice things about Him. The Lord loves to hear nice things said about Him. That is the meaning of "praising" the Lord. In fact, the psalmist, David, illustrates this as he continues in verse one: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. It is a good thing to praise the Lord, for He inhabits our praises (Ps. 22:3).
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. Whenever we eulogize someone, we boast about their accomplishments or other qualities. David here boasts in the Lord. His relationship with the Lord was such that he could tell of many good things that the Lord had done for him. As he concentrates on the goodness of the Lord, the thoughts continued to expand&ldots;
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. For the next several verses, we find precise examples of how to bless the Lord by praising Him. One cannot think on the goodness of the Lord without it expanding and growing. The Holy Spirit chose a great word here, when He said to magnify the Lord.
I sought the Lord, and He heard me. How precious a promise is that to you? When you seek the Lordwhen you are downtrodden and discouragedwhen you need Him, He hears you! Consider the magnitude of this with me for a moment. Our Lord is the One who spoke the worlds into existence. He knows the name of every star. He decreed every leaf and blade of grass. He made you and me unique and demonstrated His creative abilities in every aspect of creation. This is the One who makes every snowflake different. This One hears you when you cry out to Him! He is not far from you!
We have seen The Promise, a presentation of the life of Christ at Branson, twice. One of the songs sung by the person playing Jesus is Closer Than A Heartbeat. The Holy Spirit is, indeed, closer than a heartbeat, for He inhabits our very spirit. David says that because the Lord heard him, He delivered me from all my fears. Now, there's a reason to praise the Lord. David lived in very fearful times. We are living in fearful times, yet the Lord delivers us from our fears. One of the first things I thought of on September 11th was that the Muslims are not the only ones unafraid to die. Christians have demonstrated their willingness to die throughout their entire history!
They looked to Him and were radiant. And their faces were not ashamed. Who is David talking about here? In verse 2, he says, The humble shall hear of it and be glad. He is describing the response of the humble to the goodness of the Lord. O, that we would be radiant and not ashamed because of our relationship with a prayer-answering Lord.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The poorness of David is the same as that poorness spoken of by our Lord in the Beatitudes. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). To be poor in spirit is to be empty, a condition necessary for any sort of filling, which the rest of the Beatitudes address. David was empty, in a condition of want and need, desiring to address the God he worshipped, and God filled that need, by hearing him and saving him out of his troubles. How did God do that?
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. We are never alone, nor are we far from help in times of trouble. The Lord Himself is our protector. Remember that when the Old Testament talks about the Angel of the Lord, it is always a reference to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. How confidently we can trust the Lord. He is the One who hears and answers our prayers. We can pray with confidence, for He hears us. Here, the word blessed is the same as what we find in the Beatitudeshappy and restful.
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want [lack] to those who fear Him. No Christian can legitimately claim that the Lord has failed to provide for his or her every need. David illustrates this by showing that the young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. David now takes the position of teacher, recognizing that some may not understand the terminology the fear of the Lord. In the next several verses, he gives succinct instruction in godly fear.
First, he characterizes the person who fears the Lord. Such a person is one who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good. He is one who keeps his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. He enforces this instruction with an admonition, depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. We can see that it is not difficult to spot a God-fearing person.
Next, we find precious promises for godly persons: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. Verses 15 and 16 are examples of Hebrew comparison and contrast, a technique of instruction perfected by David and by Paul.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. Christians will have troubles. They are unavoidable. Events and circumstances of this life have the capacity to crush even the very elect! But, look at verse 18! The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Another translation is those who are crushed in spirit.
The promise of this Psalm is not a life of ease and comfort, but an assurance of the strength of God to sustain us in troubles. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Nothingnothing!can touch the saint without the Lord being there. He is never caught unaware. He is never surprised or unprepared, as we often are.
We live in perilous times. Across our nation are people who live in fear and dread, and wonder what is coming next. Frankly, I find these times fascinating, for I know that the Lord reigns! We may die, but what is thatbut gain! We can gain strength from the next two verses.
He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. How comforting are the shalls of the Bible! We live not for today, or even for this lifewe are citizens of eternity, and heaven is our eternal home. The last verse points us toward that end:
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned. We shall endure even times of trouble such as we face today. Though the perils are new, the Lord of old will protect us. Though the enemy of our soul desires to strike fear in our hearts, he remains defeated by the cross of Christ, who simply said, It is FINISHED. Let us praise the Lord with hearts that are full of confidence toward Him. Amen.
Copyright © 2002, by John E.
Bible text is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
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