[Today:] Psalm Thirty-Four: Make Your Boast in God. In this chapter we find that David is a braggart. He is hiding in a cave pretending to be a madman. He is surrounded by misfits and criminals but he declares his trust in God. He is on the run from Saul and in enemy territory but he nonetheless loudly makes known his confidence in God. You will find yourself in situations like this from time to time. David refused to take things too seriously. He didn’t focus on the negative. He kept his eyes on God and anticipated God’s goodness even when things didn’t seem to be going right.
[Psa 34:1-22 KJV] 1 [[[A Psalm] of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.]] I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise [shall] continually [be] in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear [thereof], and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard [him], and saved him out of all his troubles.
Psalm 34 is a psalm written when David pretended to be insane before king Abimelech. It is amazing to think that in the midst of the chaos of David’s life that he took time to gather writing instruments and compose these psalms. You may remember that Abimelech was the king of Gath from when Goliath hailed. David, on the run from Saul approached his gate, foaming at the mouth demanding sanctuary. Abimelech may have killed him otherwise but because of his strange behavior allowed him to repair to the cave Abdullum where David rested in relative safety for some time. We may suggest then that this psalm was written by David in the confines of the cave Abdullum surrounded by the misfits who eventually became his mighty men.
Have you ever been to the cave Abdullum? This is a metaphor of course for feeling hounded by your detractors and taking refuge in withdrawing from public view for your own peace and safety. There will be times that you must hear the voice of God calling upon you to make yourself scarce even from those very close to you. It was in the cave Abdullum where David welcomed many miscreants, misfits and distressed people, who came to join him there. Abdullum is a humbling place where you learn to show mercy to those that others would have nothing to do with. For David, even though he was under great duress in this time he still found it in his heart to be merciful to the unfortunate and greet them as his own. They eventually grew to be supermen in David’s army that distinguished themselves by many feats of bravery.
Verse 1 shows us that David in spite of living in adverse circumstances determines to praise the Lord and rejoice at all times. David had the unique capacity to encourage himself when no one else was around to do so. David did for himself what others would not. This is a very valuable character trait. When you are discouraged and going through hard times don’t wait for friends or loved ones to make you feel better. More often than not they may be a discouraged as you are. Encourage yourself. Be a source of encouragement rather than waiting on others and demanding others to uphold you in a time of difficulty.
In verse 2 we see that David makes his boast in the Lord. He does so in the hearing of those around him. He makes it his point to be heard. Sometimes we just want to quietly be confident in the Lord. This is important but it is also important to make yourself heard at times as well. Others are looking on when you are in trouble and they are forming opinions. Making your boast in the Lord in the hearing of others is a form of spiritual warfare. You are warring against the expectations of your peers that things aren’t going to work out. David doesn’t know what will happen next but he is determined to go down fighting with the praise of God on his lips.
7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him. 9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for [there is] no want to them that fear him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good [thing]. 11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man [is he that] desireth life, [and] loveth [many] days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD [are] upon the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their cry. 16 The face of the LORD [is] against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Living in a cave in enemy territory must have been a scary thing. Others may have been jumping at every shadow and every sound. David boasts that he will be secure because the angel of the Lord is encamped round about them. Others were sleeping with one eye open but David refused to be on edge. He exhorts those around him to stop looking for trouble and to magnify the Lord with him. To retreat from Saul into enemy territory and to hide in a cave is a great adventure to David. He wants to sing campfire songs about the greatness of God. He rallies those around him to lighten up and not to take things so seriously. Sometimes the sober-mindedness that comes in a time of great stress is not wisdom but rather the measure of unbelief and fear in our lives. Remember to laugh. Keep your eyes on God. Expect good things. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
In verse 6 we see that David says that he has cried unto the Lord and was saved. Others saw the cave Abdullum as a place of suffering but for David, he looks around and declares “this is great! God has saved me from my enemies! Look what God has provided!” You may be driven into a place of isolation and even deprivation at times but remember to keep your perspective. Look at the situation through the eyes of God and not the eyes of man. What others call a bad situation may in fact be crafted by the hand of God to protect you from a greater evil. In the midst of the struggle and trials of hiding out and living on the run David was being formed and fashioned into a great commander who one day would go out and conquer nations. Keep your trust in God.
17 [The righteous] cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. 20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
Lastly in verses 17-18 David acknowledges and declares that God is with him. When you face seeming defeat and are put to flight by circumstances there will be people around you who will conclude that God has abandoned you. David declares that he is not in the cave Abdullum because God has abandoned him but because God has heard him. He interprets the situation however difficult as evidence that God is at work in his life. He doesn’t see the cave as the end of the matter. He knows he is in process. He is on his way to the throne. Samuel anointed him king and to the throne he knows he is going. He expects God to so work as to redeem the situation and bring him out in victory. He knows that he is not alone. Though all have forsaken him he basks in the favor and presence of God as he anticipates the next thing God will do to catapult him to a place of deliverance.
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