Deliverance is the theme of Psalm 34. David is so convinced that God will deliver the righteous that he challenges you to
Taste and see that the Lord is good Psalm 34:8
Psalm 34 is a near perfect alphabetic acrostic Psalm. What this means is that each verse line begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Once again we find a psalm where a large part of its creativity and beauty is hidden behind the translation.
The central line and central point is found in the second part of verse 11
I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Psalm 34:11
Although the psalm is full of pictures of deliverance, and so I would say it is the main them, it is the fear of the Lord that leads to this deliverance. If we wish to experience the deliverance of the Lord we must first have a deep respect for the Lord and His commandments.
This psalm has many traits in common with Psalm 33 including 22 verse lines, a clear parallel line structure, and frequent use of God's covenant name, YHWH. A parallel line structure is a very common poetic technique in Hebrew poetry that does translate well into English. In a parallel line structure the second half of the verse line is either a repetition of, or an extension of the thought of the first half. So, for example in the first verse you see that the second half of the verse says the same thing as the first half but with different words.
I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips. Psalm 34:1
As you read through this psalm notice the creativity and beauty of this repetition.
Praise God! He Saved Me!
The psalm begins on a very personal note as the psalmist declares his commitment to praise God because God has saved him.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6
The first three verses uses six different words to describe the praise God deserves. Here are the six words in the ESV and their original Hebrew words with the meaning. Notice the links to previous posts on some of these words.
God Delivers - Test Him and See!
In the second section the psalmist changes from talking about his personal experience to teaching about it. He want us to learn to trust God just as he did so we can experience the same protection and deliverance. It is here that we first see the two concepts of fear of the Lord and deliverance being brought together.
- Those who fear the Lord are protected by the angel of the Lord.
- Those who fear the Lord lack nothing.
God's protection is for those who respect Him and fear incurring His wrath.
In scripture these two concepts of fear and respect are closely connected. As a follower of God we should respect Him. It is true that, in most cases, we should not fear God (as in be in constant fear of punishment) because, as the psalmist will tell us later, there is no condemnation for those who trust God. Yet, there is a proper fear of God that should remain. We should fear rebellion against God. His punishment is very real and, I think, sometimes more likely to fall on His follower than those who do not claim His name. God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6.)
I love verse 8 where David encourages us to "taste and see." What a great picture! Take a taste of God's protection and you will see that it is very good!
Learn the Fear of the Lord
Once more He returns to a more personal voice as he address the children. I picture David gathering children around him so he can give them an important lesson.
Come, my children, listen to me Psalm 34:11
Do you want to have a good life? Do you want to experience God's blessing? Then fear the Lord.
What does the fear of the Lord look like?
- Keep your tongue from evil and lies
- Turn away from evil and seek good
- Pursue peace
God Delivers the Righteous
This section is very similar to verses 7-10. The theme is deliverance but now instead of talking about the fear of the Lord he focuses on righteousness. God delivers the righteous.
But no one is perfect in God's eyes so how can we be righteous? David's answer is found throughout this psalm. The righteous are those who fear God, trust God and are repentant of their sin.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. Psalm 34:22
The psalm ends with the wonderful promise that there is no condemnation for those who take refuge in God. This promise is repeated in the New Testament but with added focus on Christ.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
So, along with David I encourage you to "taste and see that the Lord is good!"