First of all, happy July 4th to my American readers. But to all my readers, I hope your Lord’s Day yesterday was a great one of praise to our Lord and encouragement to and from brethren.
I’m back from Gander Brook Christian Camp in Maine now and will be back into my routine again, so you can expect (Lord willing) that these posts will be a little more predictable in their arrival on the web. And today’s reading continues with the broad themes of praise for rescue, plea for rescue, a contrast of the wicked to the LORD. However, even though these themes are familiar in Psalms, we shouldn’t expect them to be just a rehash of the same old thing. To the contrary, there continue to be great and fresh concepts and insights that we will benefit from. I’ll be taking a look at a few of these in a few verses today.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth — Psalm 34:1 is a song that is sung in many a congregation: “I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” It is something written in joy over deliverance, but it promises much more than just a day’s worth of praise, which is as it should be. Both Job and David are great examples of such loyal praise — praise, whether enduring terrible troubles or enjoying wonderful blessings. Why should we bless His name in trouble? For the same reason that we wish our children could understand the discipline that we impose on them. It is for their good, not because we don’t love them or don’t care about them. Quite to the contrary! So also our God really does care about us and has our best interests at heart.
O taste and see that the LORD is good! — Psalm 34:8 throws down the challenge to anyone daring enough to take it. “Taste” refers to trying the life of righteousness. Sadly, few are courageous enough to give it a real trial; many give it only a half-try, a shallow test, hedging their heart’s affections cautiously. “Oh, I tried Christianity; I went to church, when I was a kid, and it didn’t do much for me.” That’s it; that’s your trial? You sat in church one hour a week, and that’s your trial? That’s not tasting it; that’s not even smelling it. “I went to parochial school, and got a bad taste in my mouth about religion.” And that’s your taste test? That’s like eating the advertisement picture of a steak — it looks like a steak, but it tastes nothing like the real thing. “Tasting” is about living it for a while and letting it bless your life. Let me throw down the challenge and let my readers throw down the challenge in their own lives — O taste and see that the LORD is good! How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted (34:18) — What a wonderful revelation! If I may venture a guess, I’d say it’s because the LORD Himself has had His great heart broken a number of times Himself. He not only has sympathy, He has empathy. And we’re not talking about a heartbreak from some juvenile crush; we’re talking real betrayal, spousal unfaithfulness (see Hosea), great disappointments, and the anguish of watching one’s own son die unjustly for others’ sins. He is the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3), because He has been the God of all heartbreak, too. When you’re betrayed, when you’ve been disappointed by another, when you’ve been crushed in spirit; realize that the LORD is near, and take heart!
Contend with those who contend with me (35:1) — We all want to think that in a fight the LORD will be on our side. But to have God on our side, we need to be on His. Sometimes our fights and contentions are the results of our own unrighteous decisions; God will not fight on the side of wrong. Align your life with right, like David, and contend for the truth in the knowledge that the LORD is contending on your side.
The dimensions of God’s nature (36:5-9) — In Ephesians 3:17,18 there is a great passage that invites us to use our imagination about the size of God’s love. In this psalm we find a challenge to imagine the dimensions of other aspects of God’s nature: covenant love that reaches to the heavens, faithfulness that reaches to the sky, righteousness like the great mountains, judgments as deep as the depths of the ocean! Majesty, awesomeness, vastness — these are the impressions the psalmist wants to leave with us as we consider enormity of the virtues and integrity and character of our God in its many aspects. Think on this too long and you could get lost in wonder! May we all get so lost.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing