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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 34

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-3

David exulted in the Lord and called on his people to praise God with him.

"The purpose of praise is not to make God’s people feel good but to acknowledge in a communal way the greatness of our God (Psalms 34:3; cf. Psalms 30:1; Psalms 69:30; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 99:9; Psalms 107:32; Psalms 145:1)." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 282.]

Verses 1-10

1. God’s goodness to His people 34:1-10

Verses 1-22

Psalms 34

In this combination individual thanksgiving and wisdom psalm, David glorified God for delivering His people, and he reflected on the Lord’s promise to bless the godly with long life.

The title identifies the occasion on which David composed this psalm (cf. 1 Samuel 21:10-15). It is another acrostic with all but the last verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet and with the omission of a verse beginning with the letter waw.

Verses 4-7

The psalmist’s recent experience of God answering his prayer for help and delivering him (Psalms 34:4; Psalms 34:6) was only one example to him. Those who trust in the Lord never experience disappointment (Psalms 34:5; Psalms 34:7).

"If the sequence in Psalms 34:2-3 was in essence ’I have reason to praise Him; join me’, here [in Psalms 34:4-5] it is ’This was my experience; it can be yours’." [Note: Kidner, p. 139.]

"The Angel of the Lord" (Psalms 34:7) is undoubtedly a reference to the Lord Himself (cf. Genesis 16:13; Genesis 22:11-12; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 48:16; Judges 6:11; Judges 6:16; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22-23; Zechariah 3:1-2). He is, specifically, the pre-incarnate Christ (cf. Genesis 18:1-2; Genesis 19:1; Genesis 24:7; 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:12). David saw Him, with the eyes of faith, surrounding and protecting His trusting people.

Verses 8-10

David called on the people to experience the Lord’s goodness personally by relying on Him in their times of distress. He assured them that if they did, He would not disappoint them.

"David gave a threefold witness of what the Lord does for His own: He saves (Psalms 34:4-8), He keeps (Psalms 34:7), and He satisfies (Psalms 34:8)." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 158.]

Young, self-reliant lions occasionally cannot provide for their own needs adequately, but people who trust in the Lord never suffer such a fate (cf. Matthew 6:33).

"It is not an empty promise of affluence but an assurance of His responsible care . . . [cf. Deuteronomy 6:24; Deuteronomy 8:3; Romans 8:28; Romans 8:37]. This theme is now pursued in the next section, especially Psalms 34:12-14." [Note: Kidner, p. 140.]

Verse 11

David addressed his people as a parent instructs his children. He promised wise counsel on the subject of trusting God.

Verses 11-22

2. God’s blessing of the righteous 34:11-22

This section of verses records David’s instructions to the people concerning how they could experience a full, long life. This is didactic wisdom literature similar to what we find in the Book of Proverbs.

Verses 12-14

God had promised long life to the godly in Israel as a reward for righteous behavior (cf. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:33). Therefore the psalmist urged truthful speech, good deeds, and peaceful conduct.

Verses 15-16

Righteous people can look forward to the Lord’s favor and His awareness of their needs, but the wicked can expect His antagonism and resistance.

Verses 17-18

God grants the petitions of the righteous when they pray for deliverance out of broken hearts.

Verses 19-21

The Lord also delivers the righteous out of his troubles. Keeping his bones from breaking (Psalms 34:20) expresses complete protection in spite of cruel opposition. The Apostle John used this verse in John 19:36 to describe God’s care of His Son during His crucifixion.

Verse 22

This verse summarizes the reasons the godly should praise the Lord. This fact might not be clear from the content of the verse. We could understand it as another repetition of the thoughts expressed elsewhere in different terms. However, in the Hebrew Bible, this verse breaks the sequence of the acrostic structure of the psalm. It does not begin with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet, as all the preceding verses do. There is an omission of a line beginning with the letter waw, however, between Psalms 34:5-6. Perhaps an ancient copyist overlooked this line.

We who are believers should be careful to give God praise for His deliverance from our spiritual enemies. We should view instances of His deliverance as opportunities to remind ourselves and one another to continue to walk in the ways of righteousness faithfully.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 34". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-34.html. 2012.
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