TESTIMONY THAT TEACHES
Lord, You have delivered me more times than I care to imagine.
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.
a Psalm 34:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
b Psalm 34:1 In Hebrew texts 34:1-22 is numbered 34:2-23.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22,23).
This psalm arises out of David’s experience of feigning insanity to escape from Abimelek. Whereas 1 Samuel 21:10–15 functions like a news report of this incident, Psalm 34 serves as David’s personal testimony, where he credits God—rather than his own astuteness—with delivering him from the clutches of the Philistine king. (Note that 1 Samuel 21:10 uses the personal name Achish, whereas Psalm 34 refers to Abimelek, the title of Philistine kings.)
Yesterday’s reading drew our attention to the importance of community. Consider the place and function of testimony within the local church: it lifts up both God and the faith community. David’s praises rise upward, glorifying God (1–3), and his words of encouragement flow outward, assuring his hearers that the same God who delivered David will deliver them also (4–7). Faith, however, cannot be sustained on other people’s stories. Each of us needs to experience God’s hand in our own life’s story. A relationship with God is never inherited but requires a personal and deliberate choice. The privilege of access, the promise of deliverance, and
the precious blessings in which David glories are reserved for those who “fear” God and “take refuge” in him.
With the invitation, “Come, my children, listen to me” (11a), the focus shifts from testimony to teaching—a teaching that expounds what it means to fear God and live righteous lives. Faith begins with a declaration of trust, but it subsequently extends into a lifelong commitment to righteous living. The experience of God’s goodness is inextricably linked with the pursuit of godliness, which includes both turning away from evil and actively pursuing good (14). Faith affects our words, yes, but also our walk.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds… encouraging one another” (Heb. 10:24,25b). What testimony will you share today, and with whom?
Lord, I have tasted and have seen that You are good (8), and so I entrust my entire life to Your care.