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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 34

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

A thanksgiving of David for deliverance on the occasion of his 'changing his behaviour;' or, as Hengstenberg translates the TITLE, 'when he concealed his intellect' - i:e., feigned himself mad "before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed." Compare 1 Samuel 21:13-14, "He changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad ... and scrabbled on the doors of the gate and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me?" The general name Abimelech - i:e., father of a king (Genesis 20:1-18; Genesis 24:1-67), implying so hereditary monarch, stands here for "Achish." The alphabetical acrostic arrangement appears in the Hebrew. Psalms 34:1-22.-David resolves to praise Yahweh at all times, and invites the godly to join (Psalms 34:1-3); the grounds of his praise-Yahweh has delivered him when he prayed, and always supplies the wants of them that fear Him (Psalms 34:4-10); David invites all to learn from him, as a father, the fear of Yahweh (Psalms 34:11); it consists in keeping the tongue from evil, doing good, and pursuing peace; it results in His watching over us, and giving life to the righteous, however many be their present afflictions; whereas evil shall slay sinners (Psalms 34:12-21); conclusion (Psalms 34:22); Yahweh redeems His trusting servants.

['aleph (')]

I will ... all times - not only for the ordinary blessings of His Providence, but for the special, deliverance in the imminent danger at Achish's court. Compare the title. Special mercies call for never-ceasing thankfulness. David composed this psalm in a season of quiet, as its tone shows. The remembrance of the deliverance, though sometime past, awakens in him lively gratitude. Now that he is in prosperity, he makes it a ground-work on which to build an enduring monument of thanksgiving and encouragement to believers in all ages.

[beth (b)]

Verse 2

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

My soul ... the Lord - (Jeremiah 9:23-24.) The humble ... - because they feel his cause and theirs to be one. His deliverance is a pledge of theirs.

[gimel (g)]

Verse 3

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Magnify the Lord ... - assign to Him the greatness which really belongs to Him (Psalms 69:30). Joint praise is one sweet fruit of the communion of saints (Psalms 30:4).

[daleth (d)]

Verse 4

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Reason of his determination to "bless the Lord at all times."

I sought ... all my fears - i:e., from all the objects of my fear (Isaiah 66:4).

[he (h)]

Verse 5

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

They ... lightened. In their times of darkness they were brightened with the light of His countenance, so that serenity was restored to their countenance (Psalms 4:6; Numbers 6:26). By the word "they" are meant "the humble" (Psalms 34:2), whose representative the Palmist is; hence, he naturally passes from the singular "I" (Psalms 34:4, wherein his own personal experience is stated) to the plural "they" (Psalms 34:5); his case is only an exemplification of the general principle which holds good to all the humble godly.

Not ashamed. They were not put to the shame of disappointment by the refusal of their prayer. The Hebrew Not ashamed. They were not put to the shame of disappointment by the refusal of their prayer. The Hebrew negative here used [ 'al (H408), like the Greek mee (G3361)] is subjective, and emphatically rejects the thought of the faces of the humble being put to shame.

[waw (w)]

Verse 6

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

This poor man ... As in Psalms 34:4-5, he passed from his own individual case to the general case of all "the humble" (Psalms 34:2; Psalms 34:6), who by looking to the Lord were lightened so here he returns to the particular case-namely, himself. Compare Samson's severe need, prayer, and relief (Judges 15:19). The Hebrew for "poor man" [ `aaniy (H6041)] is akin to that for "the humble" [`ªnaawyim]. He is their representative alike in affliction and in humility.

[cheth (ch)]

Verse 7

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

The angel of the Lord - THE DIVINE WORD, "the angel of God's presence" (Isaiah 63:9). He is the Lord and Captain (Joshua 5:14; 1 Kings 22:19; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 19:14) of the host of angels who encamp round the Lord's people (Psalms 91:11-12; 2 Kings 6:17). So Jacob, (to whom David refers here), when afraid of Esau's violence on his return from Mesopotamia, saw the double encampment of angels (as the name of the place, Mahanaim, means) between which two-fold host his own encampment lay. We may infer that the Divine Angel of Yahweh was at the head of both hosts, from comparing Genesis 28:15, "Behold I am with thee," with 32:2,30, "This is God's host ... Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, because I have seen God face to face."

[Teth (T)]

Verse 8

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

O taste ... The sumptuous feast is ready, will you not taste it for yourselves? (Isaiah 55:1; Luke 14:16-17). Mere hearing about the feast will not stand instead of tasting it (1 Peter 2:3). Instead of brooding over theoretical objections, "Come and see," as Philip said in answer to Nathanael's objection (John 1:46). On tasting and seeing you will experience how "good" the Lord is.

[yodh (y)]

Verse 9

O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Fear the Lord - not with slavish fear, nor in the spirit of bondage, but with filial "trust." The phrase, them that fear him, in Psalms 34:9 is qualified by the parallel, "the man that, trusteth in Him" (Psalms 34:8).

[kaph (k)]

Verse 10

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

The young lions. "The young lions" are the symbol of powerful oppressors of the humble saints (Job 4:10-11; Psalms 57:4; Ezekiel 38:13; Ezekiel 19:2-3).

They that seek ... - (Psalms 84:11; Matthew 6:32-33). The limitation is implied in Psalms 34:19, that "many are the afflictions of the righteous." They have the promise of "an hundred-fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal "life" (Mark 10:30; 1 Timothy 4:8).

[lamedh (l)]

Verse 11

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Introduction to the second strophe: invitation to all to enjoy the blessedness which the fear of the Lord brings Introduction to the second strophe: invitation to all to enjoy the blessedness which the fear of the Lord brings with it.

Come, ye children. He addresses the young especially, as a father would his "children" (Proverbs 1:8).

I will ... fear of the Lord - not so much what the fear of the Lord consists in, as what are the strong reasons why you should walk in it-namely, the blessed results which flow from it-life, good, and deliverance (Psalms 32:8; Proverbs 14:26-27, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life").

[mem (m)]

Verse 12

What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

What man ... desireth life ... see good? Who is there that does not desire "life" in its fullest enjoyment? The Psalmist proceeds to describe the sure and only means for attaining it. The word "good" in the second clause, explains what is meant by the parallel "life" in the first clause. "Days" of 'seeing good' are life in its highest sense.

[nun (n)]

Verse 13

Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Keep thy tongue. This verse refers to words.

[camekh (c)]

Verse 14

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Depart ... do. This verse refers to deeds. Seek peace, and pursue it - i:e., inoffensiveness toward thy neighbour, and harmony with him. Not only "seek" it, but if it seem to flee from thee, still press eagerly after it, not giving up the pursuit, through impatience or resentment, because of the continued malice of adversaries. So Israel as to Sihon (Deuteronomy 2:26). Compare Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Zechariah 8:19. Duties toward our neighbour are made prominent in "the fear of the Lord;" for they are what the hypocrite can least feign: the sincere discharge of them leads to a considerable amount of happiness even in this life. 1 Peter 3:10-12 quotes Psalms 34:13-15 as holding good in Christian times, as much as under the Old Testament. "The fear of the Lord," not fear of man, must be the animating motive.

[`ayin (')]

Verse 15

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

The righteous. "The righteous" here answer to "them that fear Him," and "that hope in His mercy" (Psalms 33:18). So that by the righteous not absolute righteousness is meant, but the righteousness of faith sincerity, justice, and godliness.

[pe (p)]

Verse 16

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The face of the Lord is against. The Hebrew of the English version "against" is simply 'upon' [bª-]. The face of the Lord is fixed on them (Jeremiah 21:10). The object of His fixing His gaze on them is to cut off, etc. (Proverbs 10:7).

[tsade (ts)]

Verse 17

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. (The righteous) cry - answering to Psalms 34:15, "his ears are open unto their cry" - i:e., the cry of "the righteous" spoken of in the first clause.

[qoph (q)]

Verse 18

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

The Lord is nigh ... Though He "dwells in the high and holy place," yet He stoops down so as to be "nigh" those "of a contrite and humble spirit" (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Psalms 51:17; Psalms 147:3.)

[resh (r)]

Verse 19

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Many are the afflictions ... - (Psalms 34:6; Psalms 34:17.) Such was the case with Job. The many afflictions of the righteous show at once how imperfect man's righteousness is, which needs such corrective discipline, and how great is the grace of God in not only delivering His people out of afflictions but even turning their troubles into instruments of mercy; for by the many chastisements which their much sin still adhering to their old nature renders necessary, they are sanctified (1 Peter 1:6-7; Hebrews 12:5-12).

[shin (sh)]

Verse 20

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

He keepeth ... is broken. God, even if He permits calamity to befall the godly, will overrule the seeming evil to everlasting good. Their 'whole body' [ holokleeron (G3648) to (G3588) sooma (G4983), the body in its perfect integrity of parts, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.], as well as their 'soul and spirit,' shall be preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Compare Matthew 10:30, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." The literal fulfillment belongs to the great Antitype, Messiah, the true Paschal Lamb, of whom it was written from the beginning, "A bone of Him shall not be broken" (John 19:36; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12).

[taw (t)]

Verse 21

Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

Evil shall slay the wicked. Since the Hebrew [ raa`aah (H7451)] is the same as in Psalms 34:19, to which this verse refers, translate, as there, 'affliction shall slay the wicked,' whereas 'the Lord delivereth the righteous out of all their afflictions.'

They ... desolate - or 'shall be (made to appear by the treatment which they shall receive) guilty:' cf. margin; also margin and text, Psalms 5:10; Hosea 13:1.

Conclusion and summary:

Verse 22

The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

The Lord redeemeth ... shall be desolate - or 'shall be (made to appear in their treatment) guilty.' He saves them from being really hurt, whether by temporal or by spiritual and eternal evil.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 34". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-34.html. 1871-8.
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