The Goodness of the Lord

Psalm 34

Two notes about structure of Psalm: second alphabetical psalm (sixth letter vav missing); each verse written in parallel – second line emphasizes, amplifies content of first line.

Title makes connection with event in David’s life, doesn’t put him in very good light – 1 Sam. 21:10-15. Series of circumstances put David in fear for personal safety – running from Saul (had just tried to kill Jonathan), sought refuge with Achish, king of Gath. Recognized by servants of Achish as famous warrior – had he gone from frying pan into fire? From an enemy among friends to enemy among enemies? Saul’s rage caused David’s family, close friends and others to fear for own safety; joined him at Adullam. Took family to Moab for safety, returned with his 400-man “army” to Masada until told by prophet Gad to leave.

Perhaps at Adullam, more likely at Masada that David composed Psalm. Doesn’t have feel of something written under pressure, in haste. Is a thoughtful, carefully constructed poem looking both forward and retrospectively – here’s the way it will / ought to be in future; because of lessons learned from past experience.

Perhaps bit of blush on David’s cheeks, thought in his mind – “boy, I sure acted like an idiot back there”. Gave in to his fears; instead of trusting God for deliverance, trusted his own acting ability. Recognized his weakness, misplaced confidence; purposes not to do it again. Being people with senses, most easily focus on what can be sensed: heard, seen, touched, tasted. Means we pay more attention to circumstances than what God is doing in our circumstances. To do that requires walking by faith rather than sight, directing thoughts and feelings toward what is unseen, spiritual and just as real.

This psalm helps to do that: 18 of 22 verses refer to the Lord, Yahweh, by name or pronoun. The psalmist sings a carol to God’s goodness, inviting all who hear to join with him. Then issues a call to learn “the fear of the Lord”. Closes by declaring ways God’s goodness is on display for those with eyes to see.

A. carol to God’s goodness v.1-10

call to praise v.1-3

“bless the Lord” – speak of God blessing us, how can we possibly bless him in return? by giving his due

“A Christian man, burdened and oppressed with many troubles, was seeking relief in prayer. But even prayer was difficult, Suddenly these words came into his mind, “I will bless the Lord at all times. ” “At all times?” he thought; “then now. ” He began to think of his reasons for blessing God, and as the scale in which he weighed God”s mercies grew heavy, the scale in which he weighed his trials grew light by comparison. His sorrowful prayer was turned into thanksgiving; and he rose up strengthened and comforted.” Pulpit Commentary

if we are to love God with all…, follows that we use all lawful means to bless him

praise — boast — magnify — exalt

consciously, intentionally directing our own thoughts, and of others toward God

consider a virtue: find humor, see bright side, find good in situation; greater virtue: see God in situation, praise him

not simply ok, is very good thing to boast in what our Father has done; praises God, encourages his people

one who truly loves to praise God doesn’t want to sing a solo

desires that God’s “reputation” would grow in minds of others so they would add voices to chorus

that’s motivation behind public praise time during corporate worship, prayer times

speaking, singing, praying – all forms of praise, exalting God, lifting him up before others

cause for praise v.4-10

not only provides reasons / occasions for praise, gives example to follow

(4a) answered prayer, especially when it’s for our own benefit (don’t always know about answer for others)

(4b) deliverance from fears – greater power at work than to deliver from danger

(5) God never lets his people down when they focus their trust and gaze on him

Looking to him, as he is seated upon the right hand of the throne of God, will keep our heads, and especially our hearts, steady when going through the deep waters of affliction. Often have I thought of this when crossing the water opposite the old place of Langholm. I found, when I looked down on the water, I got dizzy ; I therefore fixed my eyes upon a steady object on the other side, and got comfortably through. David Smith

(6) poor in spirit, humble, know their need and cry for help; God always hears, answers that kind of cry

(7) God and his protecting power stand not between us and one enemy, between us and all enemies, of both body and soul

(8-10) God is sufficient and satisfying, not a difficult Master

a divinely inspired invitation to enjoy God’s goodness – only possible for “insiders”, outsiders can’t / don’t want to get that close

“All these verses are beautiful representations of the fulness,suitableness, completeness, and all-sufficiency of God in Christ to answer all the wants of his people.” Robert Hawker

B. call to learn v.11-14

(11) foundational principle, must be there for any of the rest to be either possible or present

fear of the Lord: true religion and worship of God, the true and principal way of worshiping / serving God

children need to learn that first, then the rest of their education – it’s best when rest of education is filtered through that principle – aka Christian /Biblicalworldview

(13-14) follow-on lessons: watch your words and your walk

guard what you say – true religion = keeping tongue under control (James 1:26)

Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some ofthe venom burning their own flesh. CHS

think Westboro Baptist Church – only God’s gracious directing and influencing prevents that

guard what you do

requires conscious effort in two directions – turning away from what is wrong (but so tempting), turning toward good

Q14: What is sin?

A14: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

guard who you do it with

pay attention to relationships – nurture those that promote peace

(12) building blocks of real life, of long and happy (satisfying) life

ungodly seek these results in all wrong places or in right places by wrong means

depend on sanctifying power of Holy Spirit to achieve

C. display of God’s goodness v.15-22

(15) eyes and ears: perfectly Heavenly Father fully attentive to his children – nothing about them or circumstances escapes notice

(16) Father’s full attention to his children does not diminish notice of evildoers – he’s infinite, omni…, etc.

“face…against” – actively opposed to their actions and intentions that are contrary to his own

(17) Father is just as quick to act on behalf of his children in accordance with his purpose

hears and responds no matter how often children cry out for help

God watches over righteous to protect, over persistently rebellious to destroy

(18) God not far away, anyway; especially near to those most needy and who recognize their need

those brokenhearted by their sin

those who have crushed spirits – discouraged – beaten down by their situation

(19-20) continual deliverance – not delivered from danger first time only, then on own

protects from harm within circumstances (v.20) and delivers each time it is necessary

(21) in fact, situations devised by wicked to harm the righteous often backfire

evil designs by God’s ordaining fall on their own heads

remember relationship between Christ and church – loved her, gave himself for her; will let no undue harm come to her, will deal righteously and justly with all her enemies

how would you respond to injustice brought on your child? playground bully? unfair teacher? etc….

will God do any less for his child?

(22) God’s purpose for his servants is their good and his glory

“From first to last God’s purpose is to do them good. And his purpose is all of grace. The righteous did not of themselves merit God’s love and Hisdeliverances. What He has done for them in providence and in grace has been done for them in and through Christ, and unto the praise of the glory of His name for ever and ever.” Homiletic Commentary

This psalm depends on Christ: our praise and worship of God is only acceptable when offered through Christ in his role as Mediator. Our ability to meet expectations described in 11-14 only possible through faith in Christ, ongoing ministry of Holy Spirit. God’s blessings, displays of his goodness are dispensed through Christ – his mediatorial office is bi-directional. Praise God the Lord Jesus left his throne to set his people free, to serve as their High Priest, to call us home to spend eternity at his side.

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