TESTED AND RELIABLE
Father, at times I am a slow learner. I long for hunger to learn from you, and see your truth made real in my life.
Read PSALM 34
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May we not be slow to bear testimony to the goodness of the Lord.
This psalm is a glowing testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God. It clearly arises from a particular experience of suffering and difficulty to which reference is made at a number of points. The writer, who has been ‘delivered … from all my fears’ (v 4), has actually discovered God to be ‘attentive’ to his cry (v 15) and knows both that the path of faith is beset with ‘many troubles’ and that God remains close ‘to the broken-hearted’ and to those who are ‘crushed in spirit’ (vs 18,19). The poem is thus realistic and does not suppress the reality of faith’s struggles, but the overwhelming mood is one of joyful celebration that when the confession of the Lord’s goodness and unfailing care was put to the test by the experiences hinted at (but never dwelt upon), it proved to be gloriously true. So completely transformative has this deliverance from trouble and despair been that the psalmist wishes for other people to share it, enjoying with him the experience of God’s grace and finding their very physical appearance changed by it (v 5).
It just happened that as I was writing these notes a copy of the autobiography of the theologian Jurgen Moltmann came through my letter box! He describes how, as a German prisoner of war confined in camps in Scotland and England in 1945, he began reading the Bible and was struck by the psalms of lament. Moltmann’s testimony to the transformation which took place in his experience bears a striking resemblance to that of our psalmist: ‘We all came there with severely wounded souls, and when we went away “my soul was healed”.’1
Think about verse 5: does this mean we should smile all the time, or is this ‘radiance’ something different?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psa. 107:1).
1 Jurgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography, SCM Press, 2002, p34
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