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The experiences of the godly remnant, expressed by the psalmist, through which they learn to submit to God in all circumstances, and thus bless the Lord at all times.
The praise of this psalm flows from a saint whose will has been broken. He has faced fears (v. 4); his way may have been dark (v. 5); he had been encompassed with troubles (vv. 6-7), and even want (vv. 9-10), but, having a broken and contrite spirit, his will was not at work secretly rebelling in thought against his hard lot. Hence there is no irritation and anger - the sure sign of self-will. Thus he finds the Lord better then all his fears.
(vv. 1-3) The first three verses give the theme of the psalm. The godly man blesses the Lord, boasts in the Lord, and exalts the Lord, and does so “at all times.” This praise at all times is the distinguishing thought in the psalm. It is easy to praise the Lord when circumstances are favourable, when there are no fears to assail and no clouds in the sky; when there are no troubles to crush nor dangers to confront. To bless the Lord “at all times” - in dark days or fair - is an experience that can only be known by the saint with a broken and a humble heart (v. 18). It is this the psalm so touchingly unfolds.
(vv. 4-7) The following verses present the circumstances in which the psalmist learned to praise the Lord at all times. “Fears” assailed him; the dread of evils that looked imminent pressed upon him. But he sought the Lord and found deliverance from all these fears (v. 4).
Darkness seemed to enshroud the path of God's people; but they looked unto Him and were lightened (v. 5). “Troubles” pressed upon this poor man; but he “cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (v. 6). Dangers beset the people of God. All the unseen powers of evil are against them; but even so, they find the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivers them.
(vv. 8-10) Having learned what an intimate friend he has found in the midst of his trials, and thus gained an experimental acquaintance with the Lord, he is able to call upon others to taste and see that the Lord is good, to “fear the Lord” and “seek the Lord” and thus find that those who make the Lord their resource, will not “want any good.”
(vv. 11-18) The blessings, however, of which the psalmist speaks call for a distinct character of walk (vv. 11-17), and a right condition of soul (v. 18). This leads the psalmist to mark out the path of peace through a world of turmoil. If we would know this path then let us (1) keep the tongue from evil: (2) the lips from guile - uttering fair words with an evil motive; (3) let us walk in separation from evil, and (4) do good; (5) let us seek peace and pursue it. Those treading this path will realize that the eyes of the Lord are upon His people and His ears open to their cry. He is not unmindful of their sorrows: He sees them all. He is not indifferent to their cry; He hears the faintest whisper (v. 15).
Moreover the Lord is fully acquainted with all the evil, for the face of the Lord is against them that do evil (v. 16), and in the end of God's ways, the remembrance of the evil doer will be cut off, while the righteous will be delivered out of all his troubles (vv. 16-18).
Further there is not only a right path to tread but a right condition of soul suited to the path. This is found in “a broken heart,” and “a contrite spirit.” However correct the outward path may be it is not enough if we are to find true blessing in a day of trouble. If in the midst of trial there is irritation and anger, be it only in thought, it is the sure sign of self-will at work. The spirit may rebel in the trial, chafe at the perversity of men who pursue evil and refuse the right. The godly soul wishing it to be otherwise, may grow impatient and become disturbed in spirit because the way it knows to be right is not taken. When however the heart is broken by reason of the evil and entirely submits to all that God in His government allows, then - the will no longer at work - it will find great blessing in the trial, and will bless the Lord “at all times.”
(vv. 19-22) Moreover if the righteous man thus finds great spiritual blessing, it does not follow that in an evil world he will not suffer. For, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Nevertheless, the Lord, in His own time and way, will deliver the godly out of his afflictions. In the meantime He will keep His saints - “He keepeth all his bones.” Judgment will overtake the wicked: they shall bear their guilt (JND); the Lord will redeem His servants, and none that trust in Him shall bear guilt.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 34". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29