David began this psalm with a willingness to “bless the Lord at all times,” even when he was all alone. He then finds himself surrounded by a crowd, and invites the crowd to join in and “magnify the Lord with me.” Now, he turns his attention to the next generation and invites children to listen to him as he praises the Lord.
There are many ways to praise the Lord: you can sing, you can dance, you can live a life of obedience. In this part of the Psalm, David praises the Lord by teaching others to follow him.
Please read Psalm 34:11-14.
Jesus said “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:16-17). Not only are we called to permit children to come to God, but we are encouraged to come to God ourselves—as children.
The hard truth for many of us to admit is that we are not as mature as we think we are. We are not as knowledgeable as we think we are. We are not as morally pure as we think we are. We are all still children, who are growing into maturity. And, we all still have something to learn—especially about God!
God is an infinite source of knowledge and wisdom. We will be able to study the depths of His mystery for all of eternity, and never reach the bottom!
So, as we come to God as little children, what are some key lessons that David wants to teach us about fearing the Lord?
First, David warns that we must watch our words. “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” There is a twofold command in here: don’t say anything evil; and don’t speak any lies. Lies are evil, but they are not the only evil that we could speak. If we want to draw closer to God, we must speak the truth, but we must also “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up” (Ephesians 4:29). We must not gossip; we must not slander; we must not curse; we must not verbally assault other people. If we want to draw closer to God, we must watch our words.
Second, David warns that we must watch our actions. “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” This is really just one command, because in doing one action you are of necessity doing the other action. Turning always involves turning away from one thing, while simultaneously turning toward another. We must turn away from evil by turning toward the way of peace. If we want to draw closer to God, we must watch our actions.
By instructing us to watch our words and our actions, David has covered every part of our interactions with other people. If we are truly to love God, then we must love other people; we must speak to them and treat them as we would speak to and treat Jesus.
Why should we speak and behave in such a manner? We don’t have to do this. We are free to speak and act however we wish. After all, plenty of people use viscious words and hurtful actions when they attack us!
But, if someone “desires life,” if he “loves many days,” if he wants to “see good,” then he must learn “the fear of the Lord.” God richly rewards those who follow Him—and severely punishes those who disobey Him.
Let us not be haughty and proud. Let us not try to do things our own way and live out our own righteousness. Instead, let us watch our words and our actions. Let us humble ourselves as little children, and listen to David as he teaches us the fear the Lord.
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