- In contrast to many other psalms we have studied thus far, this psalm gives us information in the heading that helps us understand the situation surrounding the penning of these words.
- First, let us notice that there are twenty-two verses in this psalm. Many times when a psalm has been given this many verses, it is a clue to us that we are looking at an acrostic psalm, since there are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Such is the case for psalm 34. An acrostic psalm is one where the first line of each stanza begins with the successive letter of the alphabet. Of course, the acrostic is lost in translation into English and is why we do not see the acrostic in our scriptures.
- Second, we are told the occasion for the writing of this psalm. The heading declares this was when David “pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed.” This instance leads us to 1 Samuel 21:10-15. 1 Samuel 21 falls in the middle of the time when Saul is trying to kill David. Jonathan, Saul’s son, was instructed by Saul to go find David and bring him back to the city to be killed. Jonathan warns David of this and David flees to the land of the Philistines. The Philistines recognize David as the king of Israel who the people sang about him killing tens of thousands. But David was afraid of king Achish and began to act insane so as to not pose a threat to the king. David walked around scratching on the door and letting saliva run out of his mouth. Because of his actions, the king did not see David as a threat and did not arrest him or kill him. This time of near death is when David writes this psalm.
I. Praise the Lord (1-3)
- The first three verses begin with David declaring he will praise the Lord. There are two main points to the praise David is giving. The first point David makes is that he will praise the Lord at all times. Praising God will always be on his lips.
- Now this would be a great of David to say that he is always praising the Lord if he were standing in good circumstances. But let us not forget that David is running for his life. So bad are his circumstances that he must pretend he is insane just to preserve his life. David is the rightful king of Israel and he is forced to act like a madman in Philistia just to keep his own life. These were some of the darkest times in David’s life. Yet, in the midst of these dark times, David is able to say that he will praise the Lord at all times.
B. David’s call to you
- In these first three verses, David is basically saying to us, “Look what I went through and I continued to praise the Lord. Should you not be able to always praise God?” Verse 3 brings this concept in when David calls for everyone to glorify the Lord with him and exalt the Lord’s name together.
- We really have no excuse as to why our lips should not always be full of praise to God. In the next few verses, David is going to give his testimony of God’s deliverance.
II. David’s Testimony
A. The great works of God (4-7)
- David tells us that he was seeking after the Lord and the Lord answered him. Further, the Lord delivered David from all his fears. David had quite a few good reasons to fear, but with the Lord was able to entrust his life to God’s hands. It is important that we always look to God when in our darkest hour.
- David describes this importance in verse 5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” God can brighten our lives and our days even in the midst of great turmoil. David reminds us that those who look to the Lord are never let down or disappointed by God. Instead, we are enlightened and radiant for the working of God in our lives.
- There are many great lines in this psalm, but verse 6 is one of the best. “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him.” David was in a pitiful state. But even in our most pitiful states, God is there to hear us when we call to Him. God saved David from his troubles and delivered him through his trials. This deliverance is described as an angel of the Lord surrounding and delivering those who fear the Lord. This image brings the mind the power of the Lord coming to our aid. The Lord is ready to defend us, protect us, and fight for us. The angel of the Lord is used to describe God working in this world on our behalf.
B. Taste the Lord and see (8-22)
- David encourages us to give God a try. Taste and see that the Lord is good. This is our 100% money back guarantee that you and I will be totally satisfied when we try the Lord. We will see that He is good to those who seek and fear Him. Here are some of the things we will find when we taste the Lord.
- Lacks nothing (8-10). Those who fear the Lord will lack nothing. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). We must try the Lord and see that God will take care of us. We typically do not believe in this statement. We think we have to supply all our needs. But God says He will take care of those who fear Him.
- Longevity of life (11-14). “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” David tells us that we must be servants of God if we want to have a prosperous life. God’s laws should not be considered a book of rules. God has given us these laws so that we can see long days and enjoy the time God has given us on the earth. God’s laws will help us maximize our physical lives to the fullest.
- An attentive God (15-16). God’s eyes are upon the righteous, watching over us. God’s ears are attentive to our cries. God’s face is toward us granting us with blessings, while His face is against those who do evil. Evildoers are cut off from God.
- The Lord saves and delivers (17-22). Look at the listing of all God does for the righteous: (1) the Lord hears them, (2) the Lord delivers them from all their troubles, (3) the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, (4) The Lord saves those who are crushed in spirit, and (5) The Lord delivers us from all troubles (this is repeated). These are words to encourage us in our times of suffering.
- Turn to 1 Peter 3:10-12 to see that Peter quotes this section of the psalm. Peter quotes this psalm to encourage us to continue to do good in times of suffering. Thus, Peter encourages, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Taste the Lord and see that serve God is worthy of our efforts for God will do many things for us.
III. Not A Bone Shall Be Broken (34:20)
A. God’s great blessings
- I would like to spend the rest of our time on what I think is the most important verse in this psalm, verse 20. “He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” Carefully read the context again and we will see that the psalmist is talking about the righteous. Verse 19 begins the thought concerning a righteous man who has many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all. Further, God protects the bones of the righteous, not one of them will be broken. So what does this mean for us as righteous people that none of our bones will be broken?
- When we turn to John 19:36 we see that the apostle John quotes this verse and applies it to Jesus. In the context of John 19 we are reading about the death of Jesus. Specifically, we read that when the soldiers came to break the legs of those crucified, they did not break the legs of Jesus because he was already dead. Their pierced Jesus’ side and blood and water flowed from him. By a simple reading of the passage, it seems that the scripture was fulfilled because Jesus did not suffer from any broken bones.
- So what does this mean for us? Is David saying that those who are truly righteous will not have their bones broken? Is the passage and its fulfillment speaking about the physical state of our bodies? I believe we are missing something if we do not see that more is implied concerning the bones of the righteous never being broken.
- The scriptures talk about the evil have their bones broken and scattered. “God brings him out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows” (Numbers 24:8). “There they are in great fear where no fear was, for God has scattered the bonesof him who encamps against you; You have put them to shame, because God has despised them” (Psalm 53:5). Therefore, when we read about bones, those who have broken bones are lacking the blessings, favor, and deliverance from God. Those whose bones are not broken are in favor with God.
- This is the great message for our lives today. It does not matter how badly we may suffer in life, our bones are not broken, meaning we are still in favor with God and know that God can deliver us from what we are enduring. Is this not exactly what was meant concerning Jesus? Yes, none of his physical bones were broken. But more importantly, none of Jesus’ bones being broken meant He died in God’s favor and love. Though man considered Jesus smitten by God and afflicted by God, Jesus died in the favor of God. Further, none of his bones being broken meant he held to the promise of God’s deliverance. We know deliverance came three days later as Jesus conquered death, rose from the grave, and ascended to the Father where all glory and honor was bestowed upon him.
- In the same way, when we are righteous none of our bones will be broken. Therefore, we may suffer but we are still in God’s favor. We may endure great tribulations, but we can hold on to God’s promise of deliverance. This is David’s message in this psalm. He had to pretend to be insane to protect his life. Saul was trying to kill him and David was running for his life. But God took care of David and delivered him. David was in favor with God, none of his bones were broken. We have the same promise given to us. Let us praise the Lord at all times and exalt his name together for his great deliverance. (NIV)