Psalm 34:11-22 - David Teaches Us To Fear The LORD
David begins this psalm with these words, “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad” (v. 1-2)
These opening verses are a thesis statement as to what is in the rest of this psalm. There are two things happening in this psalm.
First, the immediate reason or David’s praise was because the LORD had been delivered David from all of his troubles (4-6).
Secondly, when David says ‘my soul makes its boast in the LORD’, he reveals that his praise comes from a heart that fears the LORD (7,9). In other words, David praises the LORD because of more than just the circumstances that have been in his favor.
David wants to worship the LORD with other people so in Psalm 34:3 David says, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!”
It seems like there could have been a couple of reactions to David’s invitation to praise the LORD.
First, there were probably those who immediately joined in with David as he praised the LORD. Their hearts immediately engaged at the opportunity to magnify the LORD on this occasion.
Secondly, there may have been some who looked at David in bewilderment. These people were hard pressed, impoverished, angry and bitter. Their hearts were heavy due to their circumstances. Therefore, they may not initially have shared in David’s enthusiasm for worship in this moment.
David will teach all of these people some important lessons concerning seeking after God and trusting in Him.
In Psalm 34: 4-7 David wants to testify about what the LORD has done for him. David tells them how the LORD had saved him from all of his troubles and delivered him from all of his fears.
In Psalm 34:6 David refers to himself as a poor man. He says, “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all of his troubles.” David wasn’t always poor.
Until recently he had been a trusted military commander.
He had a seat reserved for him at the kings table.
David’s best friend, Jonathan, was the kings son.
Now, however, he is running for his life. He has no food or weapons. He is now a poor man who has been humbled by all of these things.
The LORD will hear this poor man’s prayer and save him from all of his troubles (6). Isn’t this a testimony to the grace of God. God hears the prayer of are poor those who are poor and needy. His saints who are not wise in this world, who are not powerful and who are not noble by birth, but He hears their prayer (1 Cor. 1:26).
We ought to be encouraged that God will hear our prayers. He listens, not because of some merit in us, but because of His steadfast love, mercy and the grace.
We learned last week in 1 Samuel 21:14-15 that Abimilech, the king of Gath, kicked David out of his city because he did not want to be around anymore madmen. We read, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
Abimelech was too proud to be in the presence of a lowly and poor madman. But Psalm 34 reminds us that the LORD is near to His people and He is quick to hear their prayers. David encourages these people by saying...
Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
After sharing his testimony with these people David again invites them to draw close to the LORD and to taste and see that the LORD is good(8). David wants them to worship with the same heart that is compelling him to worship the LORD; so he admonishes them to fear the LORD.
In Psalm 34:8-10 David says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
We mentioned earlier that there may have been two types of people that David spoke to that day. There were those who praised the LORD and those who may have hesitated to do so. David speaks to both of these groups of people and teaches them how to ‘fear the LORD’.
What a gift this teaching will be to them. What a gift this teaching is meant to be for us! You’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; but teach that man how to fish and you will feed him for life.” David is going to teach them something that will benefit them throughout their life.
Psalm 34:10 says, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” David could teach these people how to eat for a day like a lion shows her babies how to hunt for the days meal; or he could teach them how to fear the LORD so that thy would lack no good thing.
Let’s read Psalm 34:11-22 and look more closely at what David will teach them in this section. 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 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.
19 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.
There are two main themes that I would like to consider this morning.
First, David establishes this teaching in the Word of God. He is not sharing good principles and his own personal wisdom.
Secondly, David emphasizes the importance of prayer that is guided by the Word of God
First, David teaches them to fear the LORD in a scriptural way. David says in Psalm 34:11, “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” What does David mean when he says, “I will teach you the fear of the LORD”?
John Bunyan, who wrote ‘Pilgrims Progress’, wrote another book entitled ‘The Fear of God’. In it he talks about how the ‘fear of the LORD’ speaks of our proper reaction to the LORD Himself. Bunyan says, “His presence is dreadful, and that not only His presence in common, but His special, yea, His most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, the presence of God, is fearful.(Genesis 28:10-17; Judges 13:22; Matthew 28:4; Mark 16:5-6)”
Secondly, scripture also speaks of the fear of the LORD as something that refers to the Word of God. John Bunyan refers to our text in Psalm34:11 and says, “The written word is therefore the object of a Christian’s fear. This is that also which David intended when he said, ‘Come, ye children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the LORD’. I will teach you the fear, that is, I will teach you the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the LORD, even as Moses commanded the children of Israel – ‘Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.’ (Dt. 6:4-7)”
David begins his teaching by saying in Psalm 34:12-14, “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
A believer who is seeking after and trusting in God will not want to walk in a manner that goes against the character of God and against His will that is expressed in the Word of God. The apostle John writes of the sort of life that ought to characterize a believer. He says, “...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-8)
The apostle John also says in 3 John 11, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”. Those who seek the LORD will reflect the LORD in his holiness and righteousness. Those who are seeking the LORD and trust Him will use his tongue to bless and not curse. They will boast in the LORD; rather than to speak deceit. They will pursue peace and not strife.
Secondly, David teaches us that the LORD will hear our cries when we pray to him. We see this in Psalm 34: 15-18 which says, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
David believed that prayer was a vital part of the believers life. By our obedience to the Word of God and by being guided by the scriptures in our prayers our soul will boast in the LORD continually.
Most of us have heard of Matthew Henry. Many of us probably have his bible commentary sitting in our homes. He wrote another book that was called, ‘A Way To Pray’. Palmer Robertson edited this book and said this in the introduction, “It is not generally realized that no less than 14 different individuals contributed to the completion of Matthew Henry’s Commentary, beginning with the Epistles of the New Testament. According to his own notations, Matthew Henry considered another work of his to be so important that he interrupted the writing of his Commentary and as a consequence never completed it. That other work was his laying out a method for prayer altogether based on the expressions of Scripture.”
Matthew Henry saw the importance of a believer having a personal prayer life.
David assumes that a believer would devote themselves to prayer. He says in Psalm34:15, “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.”
I am surprised by some of the statements that David makes in this psalm. He is so full of faith and expectancy towards what God will do for a believer. For example,
In Psalm 34:17 he says, “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
In Psalm 34:19 he says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
In Psalm 34:22 he says, “The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
As I read Psalm 34 it makes me ask, “Am I so confident in the LORD and His promises in the Word of God that I would speak like this?”
Matthew Henry desired to pray according to the scriptures and as a result his prayers are bold. And they express great faith and confidence in the promises of God. Here is a prayer that is like the one that David prays in Psalm 34 and it is based upon six different passages of scripture.
O God, we know that you have the power to do everything according to your perfect will. Not one of your thoughts can ever be frustrated. Power is your unique possession. Indeed, all power in heaven and earth are yours. You wound and you heal. You kill and make alive. Nobody can deliver anyone out of your hand. What you have promised you are able to perform, for with you nothing is impossible.
In Psalm 34:18, David says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The LORD gives special attention, makes acceptable, brings healing and brings revival to the brokenhearted and to the crushed in spirit. And this leads us into the last part of this psalm.
As we come to Psalm 34: 19-22 I’d like to consider all that the LORD has done for us. He has looked upon us, made us acceptable, brought healing and brings revival to the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit. These are things that we will celebrate as we come to communion this morning because all of this has come to us through Christ.
Consider the words that David has used to describe the people that he is teaching.
In Psalm 34:2 he speaks to the humble
In Psalm 34:7 they are those who fear the LORD
In Psalm 34:9 they are the saints. The separated and called out ones.
In Psalm 34:11 they are children
In Psalm 34:15,17, 19, 21 they are called the righteousness
And in Psalm 34: 22 they are servants whose life has been redeemed
These are all wonderful reminders to us that God’s grace has given us more than we deserve. He has given to us all of these wonderful blessings by His mighty hand which worked out salvation and redemption for us through Christ.
Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Sin has brought upon us many afflictions; but t is the LORD alone who can deliver us. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. There is no past that anyone has that cannot be redeemed. All sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus.
Verse 20says, “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”. This passage found it’s fulfillment in Christ according to John 19:36. The price was very high to deliver us from all of our sins. God had to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die upon the cross.. Even there upon the cross the Father was caring for Christ and fulfilling His Word. Now in Christ we receive that same care and protection. (John 19:36).
Verse 21 says, “Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.” Those who will not look to the Son and who hate the righteous will be condemned(Psalm 2:11-12). The face of the LORD is against those who do evil and He will cut off their memory form the earth (16).
Verse 22 says, “The LORD redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” The humble, the saints, the righteous, the servants of God have all been redeemed from their sins.
If God has done all of this for us will He not also answer our prayers when we cry out to Him?