Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
This Psalm of praise is what’s called an acrostic Psalm: all its verses (except the last) begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. We might call it the A-Z of praise. David explores all dimensions of praise as he reflects upon a situation that almost cost him his life (see 1 Samuel 21:10ff).
The Psalm climaxes with the ‘offset’ final verse. Breaking out of the acrostic pattern, the climax speaks of rescue and refuge. The rescue David has experienced is now offered to all who take refuge in the Lord.
The Apostle John reminds us that the rescue of Psalm 34 comes from Jesus, and the refuge of Psalm 34 is the cross of Jesus. John tells us that after Jesus was crucified, the soldiers broke the legs of the two men who were crucified with him. But because Jesus was already dead, they did not break his legs. John then quotes from verse 20 of our Psalm: these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken” (John 19:36). This completes John’s picture in his gospel of Jesus as the ultimate Passover Lamb who brings the ultimate rescue – the rescue of Psalm 34.
In the Old Testament, the great rescue event was the Exodus and the great refuge in that rescue was provided by the blood of the Passover lamb, which was not to have its legs broken (Exodus 12:46). John presents Jesus from his opening chapter as the ultimate Passover Lamb as John the Baptist says of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The defining moment when Jesus takes away our sin, bringing rescue, providing refuge, is his death upon the cross. And so, at the cross, we join in the praise of the Psalm’s climax: “The LORD will rescue his servants, no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned”.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 34? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that he provides you with rescue from your sin, and refuge for salvation?
Hands: How might you carry the invitation of the final verse of the Psalm – the invitation of the cross – out to others you meet today?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for rescue through Jesus. Thank you that I can take refuge in the cross of Jesus. Thank you that Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb who has provided me with rescue and refuge through his blood. Thank you that your care, even in these hard times, provides me with the confidence that as I seek you I will “lack no good thing.” Please help me to carry the invitation of the gospel within me at all times, always ready for an opportunity to hold it out. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.