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Psa 34:1 By David; when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed- This Psalm is based around the alphabet. But the letters beth and vav are omitted, instead of koph there is resh; and the he section is doubled at the end. This isn't careless construction or corruption, but rather does Hebrew poetry function through such intentional omissions or departures from an expected pattern. 

I will bless Yahweh at all times; His praise will always be in my mouth-
We are to imagine David leaving Gath, which had seemed like a trap in which he would certainly die, and then feeling the words of this Psalm- and then writing them down for others to sing with him (:3).

Psa 34:2 My soul shall boast in Yahweh. The humble shall hear of it, and be glad-
David was not going to brag that he had slipped out of encirclement in Gath (see on :1) by his own strength and initiative; rather would he boast in Yahweh's salvation of him. Others who were humbled by their situations would be glad, because David's salvation would be perceived by them as programmatic for them too. 

Psa 34:3 Oh magnify Yahweh with me, let us exalt His name together!-
Constantly we see David's earnest desire to reach out to others, so that they would make his feelings and essential experiences their own, and also magnify Yahweh. 'Magnify' or 'making great' is a theme of God's relationship with the patriarchs. Abraham's seed was to be magnified / made great (s.w. Gen. 12:2), with His grace magnified toward them (Gen. 19:19). And in response, David wants to magnify Yahweh with the other members of the seed. 

Psa 34:4 I sought Yahweh and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears-
Those fears were that he was in an enclosed Philistine city, and they had recalled his slaughter of Goliath and many other Philistines whose relatives were in the city. And yet because of that deliverance, David knows that God will likewise save others amongst His people from their difficult situations. “The righteous cried, and the Lord heard”, he could write, with easy reference to his crying to God when with Abimelech [see Psalm title]; but he goes straight on to say that God delivers all the righteous out of all their troubles (Ps. 34:4,6,17 RV).


Psa 34:5 They looked to Him, and were radiant.; their faces shall never be covered with shame-
"Radiant" is the word used of the restoration of the exiles (Is. 60:5; Jer. 31:12; Mic. 4:1). David's restoration is used as a pattern for the exiles, but the reality was that they didn't repent as he did.

Psa 34:6 This poor man cried, and Yahweh heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles-
"Troubles" is the word used about Jacob, whose cry from exile was heard and he was delivered from his troubles (Gen. 35:3). And the theme of Jacob continues later in the Psalm.

Psa 34:7 The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them-
Encamps" means more 'to settle down'- the Angel does not rush into our lives at our frantic behest when we are in a sudden crisis, but has settled down around us for a long time in preparing that trial. This promises that the Angel of the Lord will encamp /Mahanaim around all His servants, just as the Angel did at Mahanaim for Jacob. The allusion is to Jacob. His struggle at [or with] Penuel strikes a chord with each of us. Frank Lake has pointed out that each person struggles to find peace in their relationships with others and also with their God- whether or not they are conscious of those struggles. Jacob’s experience is clearly set up as representative of our own.   

Psa 34:8 Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him-
This is the idea of 1 Jn. 5:9,10: "This is the witness of God... He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself... the (i.e. this) witness of God is greater" than that of men. The ultimate proof that the Truth is the Truth is not in the witness of men- be they archaeologists, scientists, good friends or who. The real witness of God is deep in yourself. "Taste and see, that Yahweh is good" is the most powerful appeal.

Psa 34:9 Oh fear Yahweh, you His saints, for there is no lack to those who fear Him-
David predicates "no lack" upon fearing Yahweh and simply trusting in Him (Ps. 34:8,9). Solomon picks up the idea of the righteous experiencing "no lack" but instead claims it is a reward for generosity (s.w. Prov. 28:27). This is a parade example of the difference between David and Solomon. Solomon picks up his father's words and conclusions, but reframes them to justify himself and works rather than faith. 

Psa 34:10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing-
See on 9. This is the phrase used of how the Israelites "lacked nothing" in the desert (Ex. 16:18; Dt. 2:7; Neh. 9:21), and neither would they in the promised land (Dt. 8:9).  The contrast is how the lions lacked, but David the sheep shepherded by Yahweh did not lack / want (Ps. 23:1 s.w.). But now David extends that sense to all "who seek Yahweh". His experience was to be theirs. And the phrase is used of how the restored exiles would likewise not lack (Is. 51:14).

Psa 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of Yahweh-
David had taught his children with these words. Did David say this to his children every evening? And Solomon uses just the same words, even whilst disobeying God’s law at the same time in his own life: “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father… I give you good doctrine… for I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments and live” (Prov. 4:1-4). And so Solomon taught his kids with the same outward form of words, although the personal reality of wisdom was lost on him. He repeats these very words of David when teaching his own son: “My son, keep [retain] my words… keep my commandments and live” (Prov. 7:1,2). The idea of keeping commandments in order to live is a reference back to the many Deuteronomy passages where Moses pleads with Israel to keep God’s commands and live. But Solomon came to perceive his father David’s commands as those of God, and in his generation he watered this down in his own mind until he assumed that his commands to his children were to be treated by them as the law of God- no matter how far he had strayed himself from God’s law.

Psa 34:12 Who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?-
The prerequisite is to 'desire life... many days', to actually want to live for ever. And to this day, this is actually lacking in the majority- for all their interest in healthy living and extending lifespans. But the opportunity of eternity is actually not attractive- because their lives are not actually fulfilling because God and His Spirit is not in first place.

Psa 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking lies-
We note that in first place was keeping the tongue from evil. David perceived the critical importance of control of our words.

Psa 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it-
David several times speaks of the need to fear God and ‘depart from evil’, and the blessedness of the man who does so (Ps. 34:14; 37:27); and Solomon repeats his father repeatedly on this point (Prov. 3:7; 4:27; 13:19; 14:16; 16:6,17). Yet they are surely alluding to Job, who feared God and “eschewed” [s.w. ‘depart from’] evil (Job 1:1). Without doubt, these allusions indicate that they saw Job as symbolic of all the righteous. And this is no mere piece of painless Bible exposition; Job in all his turmoil really is the pattern for each one of us, the path through which we each must pass.

Psa 34:15 Yahweh’s eyes are toward the righteous, His ears listen to their cry-
Whilst pretending to be mad in Gath (:1), David was in fact crying out to God. Or perhaps his cries of feigned madness were treated by God as cries to Him. Because God sees situations as prayers; the efficacy of prayer isn't a function of our ability to verbalize. Although "the righteous" here is originally David, his whole idea in the Psalm is that he and his answered prayer is representative of all believers. And this is confirmed by the fact that this verse is quoted about all believers in 1 Pet. 3:12. It could be that Yahweh's "eyes" have special reference to the Angels who operationalize His response to prayer.

Psa 34:16 Yahweh’s face is against those who do evil, to cut off their memory from the earth-
In the context of :15, the sense would be that He does not answer the prayers of evildoers. Which means that our experience of answered prayer is therefore a premonition of our ultimate acceptance at the last day.

Psa 34:17 The righteous cry, and Yahweh hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles-
As discussed on :16, the implication is that the experience of answered prayer is therefore a premonition of our ultimate acceptance at the last day. The allusion is to how Israel in Egypt cried and were heard by the God who delivered them from their troubles (Dt. 26:7 s.w.). And yet Israel were hardly "righteous". They took the idols of Israel with them through the Red Sea, carrying the tabernacles of their gods through the desert along with that of Yahweh. Again, as so often, David seems to assume that God's activity depends upon personal righteousness; when after his failure with Bathsheba he came to see that this is not necessarily the case. Because God's grace is different to that.

Psa 34:18 Yahweh is near-
Literally, 'next to', 'neighbour / relative to'. This is how close God feels to the broken hearted and crushed; and conversely, how far He is from the self satisfied and self congratulatory, 'the strong' in secular terms. It is this feature of Yahweh which makes Him unique; no other God has this characteristic of 'nearness' (s.w. Dt. 4:7).

To those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a crushed spirit- This was how David felt as he pretended to be insane (:1) in order to escape. He was driven so low that his spirit was crushed and broken. We note the parallel between the heart and the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit therefore speaks of a new heart being given.

Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but Yahweh delivers him out of them all-
Total deliverance will only be at the last day, and maybe David has this in view.

Psa 34:20 He protects all of his bones; not one of them is broken-
The prophecy of Ps. 34:20 about not a bone of the Lord being broken is clearly applied to Him in Jn. 19:36. But the context is clearly about all of us- any righteous man. The preceding verse speaks of how the Lord delivers the righteous man out of all his tribulations- and this verse is applied to other believers apart from the Lord Jesus in Acts 12:11 and 2 Tim. 3:11,12. The chilling fact is that we who are in the body of the Lord are indeed co-crucified with Him.


Psa 34:21 Evil shall kill the wicked; those who hate the righteous shall be condemned-
This is true so far as it goes, but David and Solomon both had a tendency to eagerly condemn their enemies. It was said almost on the eve of Saul's death (see on :1) and indeed it did come about for Saul. Perhaps David's idea was that the wicked would be killed in this life, as he knew Saul would be; but also condemned at the last judgment.

Psa 34:22 Yahweh redeems the soul of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him shall be condemned
- David had taken refuge in Gath and was suffering because of it (see on :1). Perhaps here is a tacit recognition that he should have made Yahweh his city of refuge rather than Gath.