Psalm 34 - through David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.

This is the 2nd acrostic, or alphabetic psalm. This makes the Psalm easy to memorize. I've included the Hebrew letter for each verse and have bolded the word that starts with it. It is worthwhile to memorize this Psalm. This Psalm turns defeat into victory, joy and death of self.

This is not a regular tune, so here is an mp3 of my poor voice singing it on the way to work.

This psalm has no prayer in it. None of it is directly toward the Lord, but it is speaking to man and instructing.

After David fled from Abimelech, he fled to the cave of Adullam where a big bunch of losers joined him (2 Sam 22:1-2). David had lost everything that he had worked hard and nobly to attain. He had lived in a great house and was married to the king's daughter. Now he is living in a cave, which  is hard (Heb 11:38). Then the Lord sends to him all these helpers, but they were all losers: men who couldn't find a job, couldn't pay their bills and complainers. Saul had chosen all the top ones to be with him (1 Sam 14:52), but David received those of the Lord's choosing.

In this Psalm David instructs his new followers, letting the Lord work in them to transform them from losers into mighty men. He tells them to enjoy the Lord (v8), then to fear the Lord (v9-16), and then to enjoy the Lord in suffering with the Lord (v17-20). (I got the above 2 paragraphs mostly from  David: A Person Who Served His Generation by Struggling After God's Heart by Titus Chu)

In my experience, this Psalm is a picture of the beginning of the church life with all the misfits, like myself, that the Lord brought. We should receive with joy all the misfits that the Lord brings us. Lord give us the grace to help them to enjoy You and to fear You and to bear Your cross. The same 3 lessons are needed by our younger generation.

v1-4 are about David. These are all in the 1st person. "The humble"  or "afflicted" in v2 are those misfits gathered to him. In v3 he encourages them all to magnify the Lord together with him.

v3 All translators translate the first part of this verse as "Magnify the LORD with me", but there is a preposition "to" before "LORD".
This psalm is David's exhoration to grow up unto the LORD (v11), and he tells us how to do it.

v5 David turned his followers to look unto the Lord, and they were enlightened. This is the 1st step of recovery. The Lord's enlightenment takes away our shame. People can see it visibly on our faces. I want to see this again in the church life.
 
v6. "this poor man" may be one of David's followers or it may be David, himself.
 
v9 Fearing the Lord is a great matter throughout the Psalms and the whole Bible. Some Christians think that fearing the Lord is an Old Testament thing, done away with in the New Testament. This is wrong. Many verses in the New Testament tell Christians to fear the Lord. (Acts 5:11; 9:31; Rom 11:20; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 5:21; Phil 2:12; Heb 4:1; 12:28; 1 Pet 2:17).
1 Pet 2:17  Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
The reason some Christians think that in the New Testament, there is no more fear of the Lord is from the verse:
 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that fears is not made perfect in love.
The fear that is cast out is the fear of punishment for what we have done in the past. We confess these to the Lord and make restitution and apology to man, and the Lord remembers them no more. However we still need to fear that we do not offend the Lord today and in the future.  When we love others according to how God loves us, we have no fear of punishment at the Lord's return. (This is from the footnotes by Witness Lee on 1 John 4:18 in the Recovery Version New Testament.)

Psalm 25 told us the benefits of fearing the Lord. Here David tells us what it means to fear the Lord.

After teaching his followers to enjoy the Lord, David teaches them to fear the Lord.
 
v12 - The following 2 verses are commandments with a promise as in Eph 6:2-3. If we do these 6 things we will love life and see good in this life. This does not mean we will be without sufferings, but even amidst many sufferings (v19), we will be happy because the Lord's eyes and ears are toward us (v15).
 
v13 - Even though Saul was persecuting David, David spoke no evil of Saul. Peter quotes this verse and uplifts it (1Pet 3:9-10) to match the grace of the New Testament.
Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite. - Charles Spurgeon
 
v14 - We should not only seek peace with all men, but also pursue it. Otherwise it may seem to run away or drift away from us.
 
v15 - 1 Peter 3:10-12 quotes verses 12-16a of this psalm. In Peter's quotation of these verses, he adds a little bit of explanation by inserting the word "For" between verses 14 & 15. Peter thus tells us that verses 15-16 are the motivation for us doing verses 13-14. Likewise verses 17-22 are also motivators for the action in verses 13-14.
 
v16 - This is the last of the verses teaching us the fear of the Lord. The Lord's face is against those who do evil, whether they are Christians or unbelievers.

When Peter quoted these verses, he added his own wonderful inspired conclusion to them (1 Pet 3:13). If you do from the heart the 3 pairs of commandments in verses 13-14, you should be fearless in zealously doing good. If we look at the 3 pairs of commandments:
-Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile
-Depart from evil and do good
-Seek peace and pursue it
Mainly the last one needs zeal, to seek and pursue peace.

v17-20 This begins the section of suffering or bearing the cross.
This is such a joyful psalm, but here you can see how much David was suffering.  This makes the Psalm so sweet. The word "cry" in v17 is to cry in anguish.
 
20 - Verse 19 applies to all righteous, but v20 seems to only apply to the Messiah.
When the Lord was crucified, it was normal procedure for them to break His legs, but God did not allow any of His bones to be broken to fulfill this verse (Jn 19:31-36).
When Jesus resurrected He still had (Jn 20:20,25,27) and has (Zech 13:6)  the holes in His side and hands. Apparently, all the damage done to His body is still there in His resurrected body as an awesome memorial. Had any of His bones been broken, this would be debilitating.

The structure of this Psalm is similar to Psalm 25. To see a comparison of this Psalm's acrostic structure to Psalm 25, see Psalm 25.

updated 1/29/2012 Steve Miller