In His Fortress: Psalm 34

Psalm 34


Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

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4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
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.


For the Crushed in Spirit

Taste and see the Lord! How vivid this picture is; how real and intimate this relationship can be. 

When we are sinned against, our immediate response is to defend ourselves and strike back. When situations are beyond our control, we demand solutions, while feeling anxious and fearful. We desire solutions that maximize our benefit, and want to get rid of uneasy feelings. In difficult relationships, we avoid conflict and seek acceptance. Do you see a pattern? In these situations, we either run, or we attack. We also pray and ask God to deliver us, but he seems silent. We are heartbroken and crushed in spirit.

David is convinced God’s mighty hands surround and protect us. Who can harm us when we are completely under the Lord’s protection? We are safe, and no harm can come near.

A complaint I often hear from people in the midst of suffering is, “Where is God? I don’t see him. I don’t know what his plan is. I wish he would tell me what to do or answer me.” Is this your experience as well?    

Psalm 34 was written when David was in grave danger. However, that didn’t stop him from boldly praising the Lord. It puzzles us: where did he get this confidence and courage in the Lord? The answer: David experienced God’s personal response. God answered him when he sought him (v. 4). David cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him (v. 6). God rescued him from his troubling circumstances, and God also calmed his fears.

God’s deliverance was not merely a past act with no present relevance; rather, the psalmist continues to see how active the Lord is in the present. How does God protect us? “The angel of the Lord encamps around” us. David is convinced God’s mighty hands surround and protect us. Who can harm us when we are completely under the Lord’s protection? We are safe, and no harm can come near. Not only does God take care of our physical needs, he also responds to our

Do we have the same faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as David had? Our responses to a situation in the moment expose our hearts’ desire. We often do things to make us feel secure. We often act seeking to cover our weaknesses and sins. We don’t want to expose ourselves, because we are fearful and ashamed. Our hearts have wandered from God, and out of fear, we want to be in control. But remember: God is gentle with us in these times. He does not rebuke us when our faith is little. He is not angry when our hearts wander away from him. He gently and lovingly delivers those who seek him, day by day by making our faces radiant, full of the reflection of his glory.

The amazing thing is there is nothing we need to do except “look to him.” We do not need to live in hiding, and there is nothing to be ashamed of anymore, because our faces reflect his holiness. From the experiences of the past to the reality of the present, God enters our lives and rescues our souls.

Fear That Ends All Fear

Is any of this real? Can it be a present reality? We are brokenhearted and crushed in the spirit, but yet we must remind ourselves that he has never despised us. In this relationship with God, he takes charge, he initiates, and he enters into intimate relationship. Why would he do all of this for us? We might not feel saintly or righteous, but this is how God sees us. This is our identity in heaven. In our midst of difficulty and suffering, God sees our fears, weaknesses, and sins – yet he calls us his “saints” (v. 9) and “the righteous.” (v. 15)

“God calls us to fear him, and, amazingly, it is fear of God that ends all fears. Our fortress, built on the solid cornerstone of Christ, is personally protected by the Sovereign King.

Sometimes we feel we must hide ourselves from others and especially from God; but the Lord declares: “you are made perfect.” It is not what we have done, but that we have been purchased with a steep price, and are washed completely clean by the blood of our Lord. God declares us “righteous” because we are his “saints.” We belong to none but him. He has gathered us under his wings, and we are clothed by him. Instead of rampaging in our own little world in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, God has said the world belongs to him, and we are made perfect in him. You are safe in the Lord. You do not lack any good thing (v. 9, 10). God sees your afflictions, but he is active, and he delivers (v.19). Nothing will harm you, because he has paid the price of redemption. 

What should we do? The psalmist did not tell us how to fix our problems, but called us to act according to our identity: fear the Lord (v. 9). Be in awe of him. This holy God cares about me, a wicked sinner. So great is his unconditional love that he sent his only Son to die on the cross for me. How can I not trust and surrender myself to this loving Savior? We do not need to blockade ourselves in our own little world, pretending to live in a fortress. Instead, God gently reminds us, “You are safe in me. I am your God.” God calls us to fear him, and, amazingly, it is fear of God that ends all fears. Our fortress, built on the solid cornerstone of Christ, is personally protected by the Sovereign King. With this awe towards God, our King and Father, our response is to look to him, to seek refuge in him, and to praise him – regardless of our circumstances. We are already in his fortress and under his protection. He is our great Shepherd, who lives among us. 

With this reality in mind, we can praise him with all our hearts. 

My Cup Overflows is a pseudonym for a Biblical counselor with 20 years of counseling experience. She and her family live in eastern China.



Our Heavenly Father,

You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet you stoop down to rescue and love me. Thank you for being my Father and my Redeemer.  You protect me from any harm, and cover all my shame. You call me precious, and bless me with everything I need, yet often I am not satisfied and wander away, aimlessly trying to grab everything that seems pleasing to my eyes. Lord, help me continue to dwell in this intimate relationship with you, and to return to the cross when I wander. Help me to fear and fix my eyes on you, because you are my God and Savior. May I use my life to sing praises to you.

In the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen. 


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Further Reading

To Be Human Is to Follow God: Discipleship in View of the End
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