Sunday, June 14
By: Daniel Zamora
1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Quarantine time is not something most people would be happy about or would look forward to it and yet, the first sentence of this psalm is an open invitation to praise God at all times. When we think of the Psalms being the songs of God’s people, our minds could think they were written during happy, untroubled, easy going days. That could be true of some, but on this particular, it was written by young David as he was running for his life from king Saul.
This psalm is as gem in the Jewish literature. It is written as an acrostic: each of the twenty-two verses begins with the next letter following the Hebrew alphabet which only has twenty-two characters. A blogger named Richard, on Charisma, gives us an idea on how this psalm would be if it had been written in English. Let us look at the first seven verses of it.
At all times, I will praise the Lord!
Because I boast in the Lord, the afflicted will hear and rejoice.
Come let us praise his name together.
Desperate, I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from my fears.
Everyone one who looks to him is radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
From all his troubles the poor man was saved when he called on the Lord.
Great is the Lord, whose angel guards those who fear him, and he delivers them.
David not only wrote a beautiful piece of poetry, but also made it a Maskil, a psalm that contains wisdom. Beginning on verse 4, each has a teaching and a promise. Let us consider four teachings that can provide for us a new perspective during this pandemic. First, verse 4, “the Lord delivered me from all my fears.” The definition of fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” We certainly have experienced some degree of fear towards Covid 19 as we know it is potentially dangerous. In addition, the strict measures placed at the beginning caused us more fear: empty shelves in grocery stores, high possibility of getting infected and extended duration of the quarantine, to name a few.
Second, verse 7, the angel of the Lord encamps around … and delivers them. Our present enemy is invisible to our eyes, it is microscopic and, so far, science has not found an effective way to protect us from it. In other versions, the word “delivers” is translated as “rescues” or “defends.” The one who knows the exact number of hairs in our heads provides for us in all circumstances.
Third, verse 8, blessed are the ones who take refuge in him. It is very revealing that David, the most powerful king that Israel had, refers to God as his refuge. And it all began when the Lord helped him to defeat Goliath, the armies’ most feared enemy.
Fourth, verse 18, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. As we might be concerned or worried about our families, friends, frontline health workers, and feel so terribly bad for those already infected, we are reminded that God is near to us.
Time for reflection
1. Do we praise God every time we find ourselves during troubles or adverse circumstances?
2. Is God our first source and resource of help during difficult times or we come to the Lord when everything else has failed us?
Music to our souls
As the people of Israel sang the psalms, would you like to sing this psalm? Hymnwriter Timothy Dudley-Smith metrified Psalm 34 to be sung with the tune HOLY MANNA. Here are the lyrics and an mp3 attachment with the accompaniment.
Tell his praise in song and story, bless the Lord with heart and voice;
in my God is all my glory, come before him and rejoice.
Join to praise his Name together, he who hears his people’s cry;
tell his praise, come wind or weather, shining faces lifted high.
To the Lord whose love has found them cry the poor in their distress;
swift his angels camped around them prove him sure to save and bless.
God it is who hears our crying though the spark of faith be dim;
taste and see! beyond denying blest are those who trust in him.
Taste and see! In faith draw near him, trust the Lord with all your powers;
seek and serve him, love and fear him, life and all its joys are ours:
true delight in holy living, peace and plenty, length of days;
come, my children, with thanksgiving bless the Lord in songs of praise.
In our need he walks beside us, ears alert to every cry; watchful eyes to guard and guide us, love that whispers `It is I.’ Good shall triumph, wrong be righted, God has pledged his promised word; so with ransomed saints united join to praise our living Lord!