Only One Kind of Person: 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.

  

Praise the Lord Who Saves: Verses 1 – 7

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“David’s promise to praise was based on his real-life experience: when he cried out in despair, God answered and saved him out of trouble.

David wrote this hymn of thanksgiving after he experienced God’s salvation. As soon as David opens his mouth, he promises to praise God without ceasing.  Then David says his soul boasts in, magnifies, and exalts the Lord.

David’s promise to praise was based on his real-life experience: when he cried out in despair, God answered and saved him out of trouble. God sent a messenger to surround and deliver him, rescuing him from his fears and replacing those fears with peace. The shame-faced become radiant, and go from humiliation to glory.

The Deliverance of God: Verses 8 – 14

What kind of miraculous deliverance did David experience? The note at the beginning of Psalm 34 tells us it was written while David was on the run in the land of Philistia. When the Philistine leaders recognized him and then wanted to kill him because they expected him to be the future king of Israel, David escaped by faking insanity. Yet David did not attribute his escape to his own resilience or acting ability. Instead of boasting in himself, he boasted of God and of the Lord’s salvation.

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“The wicked are treated wickedly because of their own wickedness. On the other hand, the gracious treatment the righteous receive is not because they are sinless or righteous. The righteous are treated graciously because God does not condemn them.

In the middle of the psalm, David tells God’s people of his own spiritual experience. He invites them to the banquet of God’s grace with him, urging them to open their mouths and taste grace, which he promises will never disappoint. Like a master passing on his craft to his disciples, David tells God’s people that the fear of the Lord is the “rule of the feast.” David tells them to pursue holiness in both word and deed, so they will be blessed with a life of no lack, and will enjoy a blessed life filled with every good thing.

Only One Kind of Person: Verses 15 – 22

At the end of this psalm, David contrasts the life of the righteous with that of the wicked. These two different lives have diametrically opposed destinies. God is a loving father to the righteous, showing them favor, deliverance, comfort, and keeping them secure. But when God confronts the wicked, he shows them a different face: that of a judge who “cuts off their memory” from this world.

Intriguingly, in the last two verses, David points out the wicked are treated wickedly because of their own wickedness. On the other hand, the gracious treatment the righteous receive is not because they are sinless or righteous. The righteous are treated graciously because God does not condemn them. Both the evil and the righteous are wicked by nature. Despite this, the righteous are not condemned, but are called righteous.

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“When I look up, my eyes fill with tears. My eternal peace is there, on the cross of Calvary.

There is only one kind of person in the world: a sinful person. But God divides sinners into two groups, those who are treated as sinners, and those who are not. The first group will drink the cup of wrath themselves; but Jesus drank the cup of wrath for the righteous.

Lee Haggai is a pseudonym for a house church pastor in Beijing. He and his wife have two children.

 

PRAYER

Gracious Lord,

When I look in my own heart, I am terrified, finding only grounds for condemnation. But when I look up, my eyes fill with tears. My eternal peace is there, on the cross of Calvary.

   


We are using the Psalms to guide our prayers for China

In 2022, our prayer movement is turning to the scriptural prayers found in the Psalms as we pray for the Chinese church. When you join our prayer movement, you will receive weekly prayer emails and a monthly newsletter so that you too can pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

  

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Further Reading

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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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Qingdao: Good Soil for the Gospel
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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