Psalm 34 is one of my favorites! I truly dug into this Psalm after hearing the group Shane & Shane sing it. It is just so good. The song and the psalm. Is that redundant?
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It is believed this psalm was written after David faked insanity in front of King Achish/Abimelech. This story is in 1 Samuel 21. David is on the run from Saul and he gets captured by the Philistines. They bring him to the king reminding him that this is the guy the Israelites sang about “Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands”. We captured him! David had to think quick on his feet and chose to act insane. He was even drooling. Chattering away to himself…probably. I would have. The king takes one look at him and says he thinks they will be ok if they let him go. Poor guy. War had really taken its toll on him. It’s a shame.
David’s little ruse worked. In his freedom he sat down to write one of the most encouraging psalms. David says he will praise the Lord at all times. He says he is going to constantly, continually be about that praise. He talks about how he called on the Lord and he answered him. He says that those who look on him will be radiant with joy. Verse 8 is my favorite of the whole thing. “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” This is a reference to two physical senses that stand for an “invitation and realization; even a small beginning experience of God reveals he is good” as the NET notes say. It’s try it, you’ll like it. Really, what have you got to lose? “Those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.” (verse 10) David follows this verse with a question. “Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?” NLT [Do you want to really live? Would you love to live a long happy life? NET Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days? NIV] And they all said, Duh. Who wouldn’t want that?
As you have already read through 34, you have noticed some of the same phrases that we have already read in some of the previous psalms. Things like finding refuge in the Lord, looking to him, he hears you, he rescues you. David now makes the reminder that you then need to live a live upright. He says it this way, “Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (verse 13-14) Passion has a really interesting note on the word peace. Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace and is deep, deep with meaning. Original language of the scripture is so very important. It makes already life-giving verses mean even more. The note on shalom:
Twice the Hebrew uses the word shalom. This word means much more than peace. It means wholeness, wellness, well-being, safe, happy, friendly, favor, completeness, to make peace, peace offering, secure, prosper, to be victorious, to be content, tranquil, quiet, and restful. The pictographic symbols for the work shalom read “destroy the authority that binds to chaos”. The noun shalom is derived from the verbal root shalam, which means to restore, in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. So shalom is used to describe those of us who have been provided all that is needed to be whole and complete and break off all authority that would attempt to bind us to chaos.
Remember Hebrews 12:1? It talks about getting rid of the sin that entangles us. Certainly being entangled by sin will draw you into chaos, keep you from rising out of it. Keep you from pursuing peace. God is Jehovah-shalom, the God of peace (episode 23 August 24, 2022). The understanding of the full meaning of peace really defines God, Christ, Holy Spirit so incredibly well. Wholeness, completeness, safe to be victorious, tranquil, quiet, restful. “Destroy the authority that binds to chaos” (uh, hello satan/death already defeated). Restore. WOW. AGAIN.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
How much more does this verse mean knowing what all peace means? Jesus gives his peace. Not like the world thinks of peace. Not like the English language defines peace. Since we have his peace we can really afford to not be afraid because we know he is victorious. He makes us complete. He restores us. He has destroyed the one who keeps us in chaos.
So, as David says, pursue peace. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
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