Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
CHRIST WHO GIVES HOPEFUL VISIONPsalms 34
The pandemic has shown us that there is something else that spreads even more easily and rapidly—fear. It can sweep through the population like a raging wildfire. Once we become infected with fear, it will quickly overwhelm our hearts and minds. And let’s face it, there is much to fear right now. The good news, however, is that our fear can be a powerful tool for growth and healing.
Psalm 34 was written at a time of great danger and fear to King David. This psalm is one of the few which gives a specific occasion for its authorship. David wrote it when he was fleeing for his life from King Saul. In desperation, David went to the Philistine city of Gath. The Philistine ruler, Abimelech, hated David as David had previously killed the Philistine hero Goliath. David pretended to be insane, acting completely mad, hoping this would cause Abimelech not to kill him or turn him over to Saul.
Fear gives us tunnel vision; it blinds us. We must fight this actively by praising God. In the Psalms, the author repeatedly praises God for who he is and what he has done. How does this relate to fear? Fear involves anticipated harm regarding something that hasn’t yet happened and may not happen. Praise is a recognition of what is actually true—who God is and what he has really done in the past and thus can do again. It is significant that David in v. 3 magnifies the Lord. This is a stark contrast to fear—which magnifies potential (not necessarily real) dangers.
Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount with the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Scholars debate whether this should be considered a command to be poor in spirit, or whether it is only the statement of a fact: those who happen to be poor in spirit are blessed because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.
In this Psalm, it seems clear that those who are going through trials are the ones who are crushed in spirit. In light of the promises made by the Psalmist for those who take refuge in the Lord (Ps 34:8) we can assume that he is talking about those who find trouble, not because of their unrighteousness, but because there is trouble in this world. He promises that “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;”
In the same way, Jesus gives encouragement to the “poor in spirit,” the Psalmist wants to let the righteous who are suffering know that God will be close to them and deliver them. Jesus said that to them belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.
Psalm 34 is full of reassurances of God’s goodness. God meets David in his fears and provides radiance and hope. When we praise our Heavenly Father and glorify His holy name, the focus of our attention is removed from our own, limited life and petty predicaments. It gives balance to all we say and do. God, Himself knows the immense benefits that we enjoy when we turn our eyes away from ourselves onto the Lord Jesus and look full into His wonderful face - which is why Paul reminds us in First Thessalonians to, "rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks to the Lord, for this is God's will for us."
Lord Jesus Thank You that I am not without hope, because you are my Savior, Redeemer, and Rescuer. Amen.
Thought for the Day
God loves to help us know Him and know His presence with us, especially when life is hard
Marthoma Church of Greater Washington