I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
You may read this and think to yourself, “Of course David blessed the Lord at all times; it was easy for him to continually praise God.” But this was not written when David was the king established on the throne and surrounded by comfort, wealth, and victory. This was written when David was running for his life from Saul, hungry, and afraid. Saul was relentless in his pursuit and David wrote this psalm at a very low time. 1 Samuel 21 records the narrative. David and his very hungry and tired men arrived at Nob and met Ahimelech the priest who wondered why this group of men were alone and not with the rest of Saul’s army. David lied to him and told him that they were on a secret and holy mission from the king. His lies led the priest to give the men the bread which had just been replaced on the altar of the temple and Goliath’s sword. Leaving Nob, fed and with a magnificent sword, David led the men to Achish the king of Gath. But Achish’s men recognized David and brought him to the king. So, what did the courageous man of God, the man chosen by the LORD to be the king of Israel do? He pretended to be insane, he drooled, foamed at the mouth and hit his head on the doors hard enough to leave marks. Disgusted, Achish sent him away.
David was delivered from the king, God protected him even though he lied to meet his needs and escape. This was a low point. David didn’t write this psalm because the Lord delivered him, he wrote it because God is faithful, even when we are not. God didn’t take back David’s calling even though David’s behavior didn’t match up to that calling. David didn’t depend on the Lord and trust Him for provision and deliverance from Achish; he gave in to fear, to his inner monologue and lied to get bread and lied to be released from Achish.
David sang God’s praises because although he was weak and faithless and filled with fear, God was strong, faithful, and filled with love. Have you been there? I have. I have talked myself into lies because I was afraid of what would happen. I have worried about money, worried about the future, and tried to find a way to get the money I needed for rent or car payment or groceries without trusting God to provide for me.
Ahimelech was a priest, a servant of the Lord. Do you imagine that if David had told him the truth that he might have given David the bread and sword anyway? Probably. Or maybe he would have told Saul and then David would have fled sooner and not been caught by Achish’s men. Maybe God would have provided he and his men a goat or a lamb to eat. We don’t know. But I do know this: I can face any trial, any circumstance because God is God, Jesus is my Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwells me. 2 Timothy 2:8-13 reads,
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful--
for he cannot deny himself.
When you are in trouble, when circumstances seem about to drown you, even when you are overwhelmed by them and the surface of the water seems a mile above your head, reach up to God, call on the name of Jesus. Don’t look at conditions and think about how to save yourself, call on the LORD, deny your own power and depend on Him. Verses 4-7 of Psalm 34 read,
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Even though David played the fool and was released from his enemies and not handed over to Saul, he knew it was really the Lord who saved him. He may have been excellent at playing insane, but why would the king of Gath just choose to release him because he thought he was crazy? Do you imagine as I know and David knew that it was God who swayed Achish to send him away? David had to acknowledge that it was God who brought him out, even in his sin, fear, and doubt. I imagine as David fled from Achish to the cave at Adullam that he cried out to God, that he wept, repented and thanked the Lord. And as he did that, that God strengthened him, fortified his faith, and let David enjoy time in His presence.
Time with God, true fellowship and communion with God results as David said in a radiance. God’s glory is displayed in those who revel in His presence. Isaiah 60:1-5 talks about Israel recognizing Jesus as Christ, It can also be taken more personally we too call on Jesus. It reads,
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
David could have spent time wallowing in the guilt of his sin, but he repented and called on the Lord, and delighted in the Lord instead. He could have been ashamed and disgraced, but he looked to the Lord and was not ashamed. He lived in God’s grace and love through all circumstances. God does not withdraw His grace. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1-4 in the New Living Bible says,
So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. 3 We aren’t saved from sin’s grasp by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them, but God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours—except that ours are sinful—and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us.
The power of the Holy Spirit to me recently has felt like a wind, a refreshing and restorative powerful airstream filling me and lifting me. He is doing that for us, Believer. He is refreshing, renewing, rebuilding, and restoring us. If I look at circumstances, if I depend on myself, I am bone-tired and I feel as if I can not take one more step. But if I wait on the Lord, if I depend on Him, I am revitalized. There are some scriptures we hear more than others, I can never get enough of the Word of God. Remind me again and again of who you are Dear Holy God! Isaiah 40:28-31 reads,
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
When David fled from Achish, he went to the cave at Adullam, where his brothers and all of his father’s household joined him. People in distress from Saul came to David. He gained 400 men for his fight. He found safety for his mother and father with the King of Moab and he was rested and restored (1 Samuel 22:1-5). He would need it because Saul was only becoming more murderous and vengeful.
Psalm 34:8-10 reads,
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
David’s praise is also a promise for us. He says, give the Lord a try! Depend on God and not yourself and you will see how awesome He is! If you depend on Him, that is take refuge in Him, you will lack nothing! Fear him and not the circumstances you face and He is your shelter, your harbor, your retreat. Lions are strong and fierce; they are the top of the food chain in the jungles. They depend on no one but themselves, yet they still experience hunger and need. Letting the Lord be your Lion of Judah, means that you will not lack anything you need and no good thing will be kept from you. I do not refer to “good things” such as beluga caviar and Dom Perignon, I mean good gifts of the Father, things that are good for you and His kingdom. He meets your needs, He gives you good things, He delights in you and you delight in Him. Some supposedly good things draw you away, lie to you and give you an impression of a good life that has nothing to do with the beauty and joy of Jesus. James 1:16-17 reads,
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Psalm 37:1-6 says it this way,
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
It doesn’t say delight yourself in the flesh, in the world, in riches and velvet; it says delight yourself in the Lord. When you are truly delighting or relishing and savoring in the Lord, the desires of your heart have motives related to the joy of the Lord, pure motives, and your transformation to the image of Christ. Your desires may include many nice things, comfort, and happiness, but none of those desires will lead you away from Him.
Tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, savoring this life with Him means we do not look and act like the world. As my pastor put it last night, Christ is not a suit we zip in and out of. We are not in Christ when we feel like it and in the world when we feel like it. Psalm 34 continues with verses 11-18
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Remember that yes we are saved by faith. God’s grace forgives every sin, past, present, and future. But faith has visible results. The Holy Spirit indwells us, He is permanently present in us, intrinsic in our new selves and He changes us. Faith results in obedience, righteousness, love, and the fruit of the Spirit (See Galatians 5:22-23 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Certainly, we suffer, we experience deep sorrows, losses, agony, and torments. But look what David said, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted. He, if you let Him, will let you feel His presence in a deeper way as He comforts you. Sadly, sometimes it takes a crushed spirit, a contrite sprit before we call out to Him. What I do know is even in the most unfathomable grief and distress, I can still rejoice because I am so much closer to Him, so much more aware of His communion, camaraderie, and glory. Verses 19-22 finish the psalm.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Believer, His praise can continually be in your mouth, regardless of circumstances. The Lord is good. He is enough. He my All in All and He can be yours as well. Be blessed. Remember, He loves you, His grace is irrevocable, and He is faithful, even when we are not.