Theme: A Fitting Summary
This week’s lessons teach us of the need to praise and trust the Lord for his deliverance in the midst of difficult experiences.
Scripture: Psalm 34:1-22
David is saying is that the fear of the Lord is doing right, that is, that it involves obedience. Moreover, since the fear of the Lord is the enjoyment of the Lord, the way to enjoy the Lord, to “taste and see that he is good,” is to obey him. One commentator explains this by saying, “The good you enjoy (v. 12) goes hand in hand with the good you do (v. 14). It is an emphasis which answers the suspicion (first aroused in Eden) that outside the will of God, rather than within it, lies enrichment.”4
The very last section of the psalm is a summary, extending (in the New International Version) over four short stanzas (vv. 15-22). These verses introduce a contrast, not yet mentioned, between those who are righteous and turn to the Lord and those who do evil. We are told that the “eyes” and “ears” of the Lord are toward the righteous, to see their distress and hear their cries, but that the “face” of the Lord is against evildoers.
The earlier parts of this psalm are so well known that it is easy to pass over these last verses. But they are profound in two ways and so deserve at least equal notice. First, they present a mature and very balanced view of life, pointing to the deliverance God provides for those who fear him but not overlooking the fact that, in spite of God’s favor, the righteous nevertheless do frequently suffer in this life. David himself had troubles; the psalm is a hymn of praise to God for delivering him out of them. So do we have troubles. Becoming a Christian does not mean a trouble-free existence. Peter Craigie writes, “The fear of the Lord is indeed the foundation of life, the key to joy in life and long and happy days. But it is not a guarantee that life will be always easy…. It may mend the broken heart, but it does not prevent the heart from being broken; it may restore the spiritually crushed, but it does not crush the forces that may create oppression.”5 Deliverance is one thing. Exemption from trouble is another.
Second, in the very last stanza the psalm moves beyond mere deliverance or blessing in this life to speak of death and by implication also of life beyond the grave. In this context it speaks of redemption and deliverance from God’s final condemnation or judgment (vv. 21, 22).
This points us to the ultimate fulfillment of these promises in the gospel. Deliverance here is good. But what is essential is deliverance from the eternal punishment due us for our sins, and for that deliverance we must look to Jesus Christ. The first part of verse 22 says, “The LORD redeems his servants.” How? By the death and resurrection of Christ. The second half says, “No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” Why not? Because Jesus has taken that condemnation in our place. As Kidner says, only the Christian “can echo the jubilant spirit of the psalm with full gratitude, knowing the unimagined cost of verse 22a and the unbounded scope of 22b.”6
What is the contrast seen in the last section? Can you think of any other passages that work with this contrast?
What two important points are made about the last verses of this psalm?
Application: Though your situation is different from that of David, how can you too have a rich legacy?
4Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary of Books I and II of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1973), pp. 140, 141.5Peter C. Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, Psalms 1-50 (Waco, TX: Word, 1983) p. 282.6Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1973), p. 142.