“Hope for the Hopeless” – A Word of Encouragement from Psalm 34 (part 1)

hopelessPsalm 34:1-3 1  I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2  My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3  O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

The author of Psalm 34 is a man who had known the solace of a shepherd’s life as a youth and the pleasures of a king’s palace as a young man.  The opening verses of the psalm might lead some to believe they were penned by a man enjoying a moment of triumph, rather than the reality…they were the exhortations of a man who had known betrayal, sorrow, and despair.

giant-slayerThe background of Psalm 34 is events recorded in 1 Samuel 20-22.  David, the slayer of the Philistine giant Goliath, had lived in the palace of the king from his late teen years.  By his mid-20’s, he had become a battle-hardened soldier, a household name in Israel, and the friend and confidant of Jonathan, son of King Saul, and the presumed heir to Israel’s throne.  At the pinnacle of his career as a warrior, David’s rise in popularity coincided with King Saul’s insecurities and he became the focus of the king’s jealousy and wrath.

Bidding his friend Jonathan a final farewell (1 Samuel 20:34-42), David had fled to the priestly city of Nob where he requested bread for food and was given the sword of Goliath for his defense (1 Samuel 21:1-9).  Knowing Saul would send soldiers to slay him, David fled from Israel into the land of his old enemy, the Philistines (1 Samuel 21:10-15).  After  the Philistines identified him as Israel’s mighty warrior, David feigned insanity until the king of the Philistines dismissed him as a “mad man” (1 Samuel 21:12-15).

David spent the next 10 years of his life as a fugitive, hiding in the wilderness, living in caves (1 Samuel 22), and grappling with the reality his faithfulness and loyalty to the king had been rewarded with jealousy, mistrust, and the peril of death.  God’s anointed heir to Israel’s throne, had fallen from fame to infamy; from the hero of Israel, to the fugitive of En-gedi; from the lavishness of a king’s palace, to the poverty of the wilderness.psalm-34-1

Rather than despair and self-pity, David modeled the spiritual response when trials, injustices, and discouragement take hold on the soul—he resolved to worship His LORD and enumerated three spiritual disciplines that defined his ADORATION.

Psalm 34:1 – “I will bless [salute; praise] the LORD at all times [always; season; continually]: his praise [glory; song of praise] shall continually [daily; always; ever] be in my mouth [word; speech].”

Psalm 34:2 “My soul [life; mind; heart] shall make her boast [praise; glory] in the LORD: the humble [meek; lowly; needy; afflicted] shall hear [hearken; obey; listen; publish] thereof, and be glad [rejoice; cheer; be merry].”

Psalm 34:3 – “O magnify [boast; i.e. speak with pride] the LORD with me, and let us exalt [raise; become proud; bold] his name [renown; reputation] together [united].”

My next devotional will focus on David’s ADORATION of the LORD in the midst of trials.  I close today inviting you to meditate on Psalm 34:1-3 and offer the LORD a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for His faithfulness and salvation.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith