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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 34

 

 

Verses 1-22

Psalm 34:1-22. Title. (Note, 1 Samuel 21:10-15.) Achish was the name of the king of Gath; and " Abimelech," which signifies, My father the king, seems to have been a general title given to all the kings of Philistia; as Pharaoh, and afterwards Ptolemy, was of the Egyptian kings. " This Psalm is curiously composed, according to the number and order of the letters of the Hebrew

alphabet, in the beginning of every verse; which shews that it " was contrived, when he " (David) " reflected on his escape, in some place of safety." Bp. Patrick.

(Notes, Isaiah 38:9-13. Jonah 2:1-2.)

V:1 , 2. (Notes, Psalm 145:1-2. Psalm 146:2. Philippians 4:5 Colossians 3:16-17. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22. Hebrews 13:15-16.)

While the Psalmist publickly declared the power and goodness of God, in delivering him from extreme danger, and gloried in him as his omnipotent Father and Friend; he rejoiced to think, that other pious persons in distress, would be raised above discouragement and filled witn cheerful hope, by this record of his experience. The event, during almost three thousand years, has fully verified this expectation. The word (D":) rendered humble, is afterwards translated poor (6). It seems applicable either to poverty and affliction borne with meek submission; or to the lowly sense, which true believers have of their unworthiness; and the poverty in spiritual things, which renders them teachable, dependent, and thankful. (Notes, Is. Ixvi1 , 2. Matthew 5:3.)

V:4- 6. When the Psalmist understood, that he was considered, in the court of Achish, as the enemy of the Philistines who was now in their power, his fears were very great; as the method by which he sought to extricate himself clearly shews. He was however delivered; and he ascribed his escape to a peculiar interposition of God, which eventually still more encouraged his faith and hope. And he realizes to himself the effects of these events on others, who would look to God, in distress and danger, and " be lightened,"" or flow unto him (marg.), and find comfort and safety, while they conversed together on the case of David : and he calls on all, to join him in extolling the name and celebrating the praises of his gracious Deliverer; as unable to do it adequately himself.

V:7. (Note, Genesis 24:29.) though God"s power " be all-sufficient, yet for man"s infirmity, he appointeth his angels to watch over us." (Marg. Ref.) The singular number being here used, many think, with great probability, that Christ "the great Angel of the covenant " was intended. (Notes, Genesis 32:30; Genesis 48:16. Exodus 3:2. Hosea 12:3-6. Malachi 3:1-4.)

V:8. The apostle applies this expressly to Jesus Christ. (Note, 1 Peter 2:1-3.) The experience, which faith makes way for, of the Lord"s faithfulness and goodness, may be compared to the evidence received by the senses concerning their respective objects. The believer tastes, and sees, that God is good, as he perceives that honey is sweet, the light pleasant, and the landscape beautiful. This is no longer a matter of reasoning or expectation; but of actual enjoyment, in which he cannot be deceived. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 63:5-6. Psalm 119:1-3. 1 John 1:1-4; 1 John 5:9-10.)

V:9 , 10. " God is never wanting to provide for his " servants, what he secth needful and best, in matters " temporal; while tyrants and oppressors, who are in the " world what lions are in a forest, are often, by the just " judgment of heaven, reduced to want that which they " have ravished from others." Bp. Home. (Notes, Psalm 84:11-12. Isaiah 40:27-31. Matthew 6:33-34.)

V:11- 14. The Psalmist, having addressed " the " saints," or such as were established in the way of holiness; next exhorts young persons, or new converts, as children, or sons, beloved sons. Though he was a person of high rank, renowned for military valour and success, anointed to be a king, and eminent in music, poetry, and every accomplishment; he was desirous of teaching children : for youth is the learning and remembering season; and what first occupies the mind lasts the longest. He did not, however, attempt to teach them music, poetry, arts, or arms; but " the fear of the LORD," its nature and effects. He had been shewing the blessedness of those who feared God, and he wished his young friends to share these blessings. Many as his engagements, and great as his difficulties and dangers were, he would spare time, and find spirits, to teach children the fear of the LORD. True religion begins in the fear of God, in dread of his anger, and hope and desire of his favour; and it has the promise both of this world and the next. Whether men would live long and happy on earth, or for ever in heaven, the tongue must be bridled; profane, licentious, slanderous, flattering, proud, and deceitful language must be refrained from; all sin must be repented of and renounced; every duty attended to; peace with God, and peace with all men must be pursued : indeed " the grace " of God, that bringeth salvation," effectually teaches men to attend to these things; and the contrary conduct will ensure temporal and eternal misery : without them faith is dead; by them it is evidenced to be living and justifying. (Marg. Ref.) The manner, in which the apostle quotes this passage, demonstrates that such exhortations perfectly coincide with evangelical principles. (Note, 1 Peter 3:8-12.)

V:15-17 The Lord takes special notice of his people"s wants, difficulties, and prayers; and watches over them with unremitted vigilance, proportioning the communication of his strength and consolations to their need of them. (Note, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10.) But he sets himself decidedly against the impenitent; and his frown alone is sufficient to sink them in misery, and ignominy.

(Note, Leviticus 17:10-16.) "The death of martyrs is their " deliverance; and the greatest of all deliverances." Bp. Home.

This is true also of the death of every believer, by whatever means effected : then " the LORD delivers him " out of all his troubles."

V:18. The " broken in heart" and "contrite in spirit," in the language of scripture, are not those who, being weighed down by sorrows and sufferings, through impatience and despondency sink under them; but such as are broken-hearted under a sense of their sins, and led to renounce all self-confidence. Their hearts, naturally stout, hard, and unfeeling, are humbled, softened, and made sensibly alive to the feelings of remorse, fear, shame, godly sorrow, and self-abhorrence. Their self-will also is subdued; they submit to God without plea or hope, save in. his mercy and grace. They are prepared to welcome his gospel, and exclusively possess its blessings. (Notes, Psalm 51:17. Isaiah 57:15-16; Isaiah 66:1-2. Ezekiel 11:17-20; Ezekiel 36:25-27.)

V:19 , 20. (Notes, Psalm 71:20-21 . Proverbs 24:15-16. John 16:31-33. 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. 2 Timothy 4:16-18. 1 Peter 5:8-11. Revelation 7:13-17) God so preserves the believer, in the most perilous circumstances, that not a bone is broken without his wise and merciful appointment; nay, " the hairs of his head are all numbered," and not " one " falleth to the ground, without his Father." (Note, Matthew 10:29-31.) Every thing subserves his final good; and both soul and body will be preserved, and perfected for glory.

(Notes, Psalm 35:10. Romans 8:28-31. Philippians 3:20-21.)

Not a bone of the Saviour was broken at his crucifixion; though the two thieves who suffered at the same time, had their legs broken. (Notes, John 19:31-37.)

V:21 , 22. " Desolation " means utter destruction, whether of nations as such, or of individuals. The desolation of the several kingdoms, which have persecuted the church, and that of the Jews who crucified the Saviour, " hating " that righteous One," with the preservation ensured to true Christians, form a striking exposition of these verses.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 37:10-15. Psalm 40:13-16. Romans 8:28-37. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12. Revelation 20:11-15.)

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

It is our duty to " bless the Lord at all times," in pain, sickness, poverty, persecution, and even in the agonies of death. He is always worthy of our love and praise; we are always receiving more good from him than we have deserved; and the more unworthy we are, the more cause have we to adore his condescending goodness to us. It encourages the humble believer, and silences the proud Pharisee, when the servants of God are enabled to rejoice, and make their boast in him, under circumstances of the most extreme danger, and the deepest distress : and if our faith were strong, we might thus call on all around us to magnify and exalt our God with us, extolling his glorious excellencies, and celebrating the praises of his abundant mercy. Whilst others consider, how one poor tempted soul has been comforted and delivered, they too are encouraged to look unto the Lord; and their hearts grow cheerful, and their faith gathers strength. But we should especially look to Him, " who, though he was rich, for " our sakes became poor; " and remember how he suffered, and how he is glorified, in order to save all that trust in nim. They must be safe and happy, " who fear the a LORD." The holy angels minister to them, yea, the great Angel of the covenant encampeth continually around them, to protect and deliver them. Oh, that sinners would but make trial of his love ! Their own experience would convince them, that the blessings of salvation are sweeter than all the pleasures upon earth. But even the saints need exhortations to the reverential fear of God : the more humbly and obediently they walk with him, the happier they are: and they, who " seek first the kingdom of God, " and his righteousness," shall never want any good thing; whilst the covetous and rapacious, who resemble ravenous beasts, shall at length be left utterly destitute. Let then all, who have themselves " tasted that the Lord is gracious," take delight in leading others, and especially the young, into these happy ways : by no means thinking the instruction even of little children beneath them. Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the .Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter; for they are the happiest, who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. But let them attend to him, who " speaketh unto them as unto children," that they may learn the true fear of God, and beware of counterfeits. That religion promises best, which begins with the conscience, and creates a watchfulness over the heart and tongue, a dread and hatred of hypocrisy and all sin, and a love of peace and universal holiness. Such a state of heart prepares the way for the proper understanding and reception of divine truth; and those who thus receive, will " adorn, the doctrine of God our Saviour." He will peculiarly regard them and attend to their prayers : whilst lie fights against the evil doer, whatever be his profession; and oblivion or infamy will be his present and eternal portion. Nothing is more essential to true godliness, than a contrite heart, broken off from every kind of self-confidence and self-preference, and crushed down into the dust of self-abasement : in this soil every grace flourishes; and to this contrite person nothing can give encouragement, but the free mercy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such characters meet with many afflictions, and are often harm by grievous temptations, for their trial and profit; " but " the LORD will deliever them out of them all : " whilst the ungodly will sink under one trouble after another to rise no more; for " evil shall slay the wicked." He that accomplished the prophecies concerning the Saviour, so that " not a bone of him was broken " by all his furious enemies, will take equal care of all his faithful servants, and destroy all their persecutors. He will redeem his people from hell and from the grave, and will not forsake those who trust in him, till they possess a happiness large as their capacities, durable as their immortality, and surpassing their most sanguine expectations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 34:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsp/psalms-34.html. 1804.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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