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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 34

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.

Another alphabetical psalm, (see introduction to Psalms 25:0,) whose twenty-two verses answer to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, each verse beginning with a letter of that alphabet in serial order, except the omission of vauv, ( ו ) for which a repetition of pe ( פ ) is added in the last verse. The didactic strain prevails, after the opening, so that it is rather a poem than a lyric. The theme is the special providence of God over his children, which is always accompanied with the certainty of punishment to the wicked. The psalm is ascribed to David, and, though some have doubted the historic accuracy of the title, there is no evidence against its correctness. But it is clear that whatever may have been the specific occasion, it belongs to the period of the Sauline persecutions, to which eight psalms in all are assigned by their titles. The present is a companion piece to Psalm lvi, the latter being written during David’s detention in Gath, this after his escape. 1 Samuel 21:10-15. TITLE:

Abimelech As the king of Gath in the time of David is called Achish, (1 Samuel 21:10,) and the name or title Abimelech (father king) belongs to the Philistine kings in the patriarchal age, (Genesis 21, , Genesis 21:26,) it is thought by some that the discrepancy invalidates the historical worth of the title; but if Abimelech is accepted as a title assumed in common by their kings, as Pharaoh by the Egyptians or Caesar among the Romans, the difficulty vanishes.

Changed his behaviour Literally, changed his reason, or discernment; feigned himself idiotic, or in a state of mental aberration.

Drove him away Expelled him by authority, without the formality due to his rank as son-in-law to Saul.

Verse 1

1. Times The word comprehends the idea of seasons, occasions, as well as continued duration.

Continually The spirit of praise (as of prayer, Ephesians 6:18) should be unintermitted, and the act habitual and regular.

Verse 2

2. Boast in the Lord The word rendered “boast,” means to shine, to make clear, and also to exclaim aloud. It is commonly the word for praise.

To “boast in the Lord,” is to proclaim aloud his acts towards us, giving him the honour of our deliverances.

Verse 3

3. Magnify… exalt his name Not absolutely, but relatively in the eyes of men, by showing forth his wonderful mercies. We magnify God by ascribing greatness to him. Deuteronomy 32:3. Psalms 34:1-2, are a declaration of what the psalmist will do; Psalms 34:3, a call upon all to join him.

Verse 4

4. I sought… he heard… and delivered me Here is a brief analysis of the psalmist’s theme of praise, or boasting, and the reasons for his earnestness as well. Identified by the courtiers of Achish, charged of being the most powerful enemy of the Philistines, and being now in their hands, he had no resort but prayer, no help but in God; and He heard him and brought him forth in safety.

Verse 5

5. They looked “Looked,” here, imports intense longing, as Numbers 21:9. But who “looked?” The subject of the verb is not apparent, the humble, (Psalms 34:2,) being too far removed. It is better taken as a universal truth, as if David had suddenly generalized his local experience. “They looked,” equal to, whosoever looketh, etc.

Were lightened Brightened up. The shining of God’s face radiated theirs. Exodus 34:29-35. The word nahar commonly means to flow, (the noun is the ordinary word for river,) and might here be rendered flowed together; but as it stands contrasted with ashamed, in the next line, it is better to take the more radical sense, as in Isaiah 60:5, where instead of “flow together,” as in the English Bible, read “shalt shine.”

Verse 6

6. This poor man That is, David, now standing forth unconsciously as the representative of the humble, or “poor in spirit.”

Verse 7

7. Angel of the Lord If this, as many suppose, is the “Angel of his presence,” (Isaiah 63:9,) the leader of Israel, called the “Captain of the Lord’s host,” (Joshua 5:14,) “Angel of the covenant,” (Malachi 3:1,) and technically understood as the Christ of the Old Testament, it makes a good sense; if otherwise, it must be taken collectively, as comprehending the host of subordinate angels, and encampeth, supposes plurality. See Psalms 91:11

Verse 8

8. Taste and see “Tasting stands before seeing; for spiritual experience leads to spiritual knowledge, and not conversely.” Delitzsch.

Man The word here is not the generic term for the human race, but specially denotes a mighty man, a man of strength and renown, as 1 Chronicles 9:13; 1 Chronicles 12:18; et al., such as were wont to trust in themselves.

Trusteth Literally, takes refuge, as in Isaiah 14:32. The word is almost entirely used religiously for trust in God. See on Psalms 2:12

Verse 10

10. Young lions The lion is referred to as being the strongest beast of the forest known to Palestine, and hence able to secure his food; and the young lion is one in full strength and agility, distinguished from the whelp and the old lion. These may lack and suffer hunger, but not they who seek the Lord.

Verse 11

11. Come, ye children Those who are such in spirit, but not in understanding. Thus John, in his epistles, terms such as he would teach, because they are teachable. Deeply experienced in the things of God, he seeks to communicate the same to others.

Verses 12-14

12-14. Contain instructions for useful and happy living: first in the government of the tongue, and an honest and sincere habit of speech; secondly in the avoidance of evil, and the diligent pursuit of peace.

Verses 15-22

15-22. These closing words are devoted to an earnest digest of the moral government of God in redeeming the humble and contrite, and punishing the wicked.

Broken heart… contrite spirit Comp. Psa 51:17 ; 1 Samuel 16:7.

Saveth Besides the national salvation of the covenant people, the Old Testament rises often to the New Testament apprehension of the salvation of individuals, whether Jew or Gentile, of a given class, in the text denominated those of a “contrite spirit.” Thus, also, it speaks of the “meek,” (Psalms 76:9;) the “humble,” (Psalms 22:29;) the “upright,” (Proverbs 28:18;) but not of the “wicked.” Psalms 18:41.

Keepeth his bones Compare Matthew 10:30.

Redeemeth The word first occurs Genesis 48:16, where it marks an advance in christological terminology, as the words “righteousness,” “believed,” “reckoned,” or imputed, do in Genesis 15:5. Jehovah is the Redeemer, but as under the law the redeemer must be a kinsman of the redeemed, (see Leviticus 25:24-25; Ruth 2:20; Ruth 4:1-8,) so Jehovah here assumes that relation, and in this idea the doctrine of the incarnation finds its Old Testament germ. See Job 19:25; Hebrews 2:14-18.

Shall be desolate Better, Shall be guilty; so, also, in Psalms 34:21. They shall not be classed with, and hence not treated as, the guilty. See on Psalms 26:9.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 34". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-34.html. 1874-1909.
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