Psalms 34 Commentary

Psalm 34 Thanks for deliverance

When he first fled from Saul to the Philistine city of Gath, David expected the Philistines would welcome him as a deserter from Israel’s army, and so provide him with refuge. But the Philistines had probably not yet heard of David’s break with Saul. They knew only that David had killed thousands of their own Philistine people; perhaps he was spying out their city in preparation for more slaughter. They decided to kill him, and David escaped only by pretending to be a madman. He found a new hiding place in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam 21:10-22:1).

Although the king of Gath’s name was Achish, the heading to this psalm calls him Abimelech. This was a Philistine royal title (meaning ‘father-king’), in the same manner as ‘Pharaoh’ was an Egyptian royal title (cf. Gen 20:2; 21:22; 26:26).

David trusts that God’s deliverance of him will encourage others and be a cause for joint praise (1-3).

His face previously showed shame and fear; now it shows radiance, for God protects and rescues the downtrodden when they cry to him (4-7). David therefore invites others to taste God’s goodness for themselves. The strongest and most successful flesh-hunting beasts do not always find enough food to satisfy them, but David never suffers a shortage of supplies. He fears God, and therefore God provides for him (8-10).

To fear God requires people to speak truthfully, do good and strive for peace. This is the only way to true enjoyment in life (11-14). God punishes those who do evil but he answers the prayers of those who live uprightly, particularly when they are tempted to give up hope (15-18). Regardless of the extent of


people’s suffering, God is always able to preserve them through it. In the end, righteousness will lead to victory (19-22).

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