Psalm 34, verses 4-7 are one of the most beautiful stanzas in Scripture to mediate on. Please read them now.
Don’t you immediately take David’s reminiscence as a promise for yourself? You think something like, “David sought the Lord and He answered him and delivered him from all his fears, so I can seek the Lord and He will deliver me from my current trouble.” Maybe you even think back on times in your past when God delivered you from your trial. You agree with David that God hears the cries of the poor and saves us out of our troubles. You can picture the Angel of the Lord surrounding you and delivering you from your enemies.
To help them remember these precious promises, many people like to write passages like this one in fancy calligraphy and frame them on their walls. They knit these words onto pillows, post them on social media, and surround themselves with promises like those found here. Then they go to bed thinking “Since God is for me, none can be against me. I can rest comfortably, knowing that God is in control. I will never suffer any hardship because I fear the Lord.”
What a beautiful sentiment. The only problem? It’s taking Scripture completely out of context!
There is nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with Scripture, and these might even be some good verses to put up on your walls, but make sure you understand that these verses imply that you may not have those same walls tomorrow.
Remember that David wrote this psalm after God delivered him from the hands of Abimelech. How did God deliver him? He had to act like a crazy person so that the king thought he was unworthy of being executed. Then, he had to hide in a cave because he had nowhere else to go.
While thinking about this context, please re-read Psalm 34:4-7.
How did the Lord answer David? By giving him the idea to act like a madman.
How did the Lord deliver David from his fears? By humbling him to the point where he had nothing left to lose.
What does a face that never needs to be ashamed look like? In David’s case, it was covered in drool that was dripping down his beard as he slurred his words and used his fingernails to scratch marks in the walls.
To where did God deliver David? A cave in the middle of nowhere.
Do you get the picture? Yes, God heard David’s cry. Yes, God delivered David. Yes, God saved David from being executed by his enemies. But God’s deliverance did not lead to worldly comforts! David was singing this psalm while surrounded by outcasts IN A CAVE! He had to hide for fear of his life!
Yet, even in these circumstances, he had many reasons for which he could praise God. How many more reasons have we? We should be praising God non-stop! If David could praise God for allowing him to act like a madman and go hide in a cave, can we not praise God for giving us a house to live in? Even if it isn’t as big as our neighbor’s house, God has given us this house. Let's praise Him for it! And, if tomorrow He chooses to take it away, then we will praise Him for the car that He has given us to live in. And, if the next day the car is impounded, then we will praise Him for the homeless shelter. And, if the next day the homeless shelter is shut down, then we will praise Him for the cardboard box that we get to use as a blanket.
No matter what our circumstances might be, God is still worthy to be praised. God is still the One who delivers us… not so that we can live in comfort, but so that we can give Him glory! So go ahead and hang this passage on your walls and knit it into your pillows. Use it to remind yourself that God always hears our prayers, and He ultimately will deliver us from our troubles. But also use the context of the psalm to remind yourself that God rarely answers our prayers and delivers us in the way that we expect!
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