We have recently started a Bible Study Class exploring several of the psalms. This week we started our study with Psalm 34. This is one of many psalms written by David over the course of his life. It has valuable lessons about how we are to deal with our fears.
First, unfortunately, we must have a tiny history lesson:
The Israelites, when entering the Promised Land, were to destroy all of the inhabitants of the land. They were not to mingle with or enter into covenant with any of them. You have read these words before, and if you stick with me you will again- I love reading the Old Testament. These people would not and could not do right, even while God was physically with them. And…we are the same. They are us! I don’t know about you, but I feel a little better if I know that others have fallen into the same hole. Anyway, they screwed up coming into the new country.
After they were there for a while, they wanted to be like all the other kids. They wanted to dress like them, act like them, worship like them. And, they wanted a human king, like everybody else had. It was not sufficient that they had perfect Law and a perfect King (God). They wanted more. God gave them a king, Saul, who only followed God’s Law part of the time. He had issues with mental “torment”. David was an excellent harpist and was brought to court to play for Saul, to help ease his pain.
Many years before this, the prophet Samuel had anointed him to be the future king.
David kills the Philistine champion, the giant Goliath. David was successful in every venture. The people grow to love David and start making up songs about him instead of Saul. Saul gets jealous and plots to kill David. David flees. But, believe it or not, he flees to the Philistine king. Can you fathom that? Where is Jethro Gibbs when you need him?
He quickly realizes that this is a bad decision. So, as he is brought before the king, he starts to drool into his beard, wallow around on the floor, and generally acting insane. King Abimelech wisely decides that he already has enough nut cases around him, and sends David away. David flees to hide in a cave, and it is here that he writes the 34th Psalm.
To attempt to paraphrase David, he is saying:
- Let me praise You with all I have and all I am, and share what I have experienced
- I have fled from 2 kings and escaped with my life
- Everyone (friend and foe alike) has deserted me
- I am really afraid and no longer have confidence in getting things done in my own strength
- Thank you God for saving me in my darkest hour, in my hour of distress
Read it for yourself…
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.
So, what do you think? Is it okay to be afraid?