- Sermon Notes
O, Magnify the Lord
As we continue in the book of Psalms this morning, we turn to Psalm 34, which is a Psalm that was written by David. Like many Psalms it contains powerful truths and directs our attention to the Lord, but unlike many Psalms, it is a Psalm with a backstory, a Psalm with specific circumstances, and one that will encourage us to praise, pursue, and turn to the Lord, no matter what type of situation we might find ourselves in.
The way we know the backstory on what is happening in Psalm 34 is from what is called the superscription. Superscriptions are the titles that come before the text of a Psalm. Throughout the book, certain superscriptions are quite short, we don’t know the specifics. For some, it will only say, “A Psalm of David,” or “for the director of music,” or “A Psalm of Asaph,” or some Psalms will have nothing at all.
Psalm 34, however, gives us details and information about a situation that David was in, here is what we read:
Psalm 34 (Superscription): A Psalm of David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.
Illus. Backstory on David.
The story of when this Psalm was written is found in 1 Samuel chapter 21 and 22. David was on the run for his life from King Saul. As he runs, he doesn’t do everything perfectly. He makes up a story to a priest who was asking why he had come to his town. Then one of the servants of Saul shows up to town, and David runs for his life again. Only this time, he ends up in a place that isn’t much better, and this ties it all back to the superscription of Psalm 34. David, running for his life from Saul and his men, ends up landing in a town called Gath, a Philistine city, before Abimelech, Achish, the Philistine King. David is recognized in the city, why would this be? Well, remember that giant Goliath who David defeated? Well, Gath was Goliaths hometown. The servants of the king recognized him:
1 Samuel 21:11-15, the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David, the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” David took these words to heart and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. So he disguised his sanity while in their sight and acted insanely in their custody, and he scribbled on the doors of the gate, and drooled on his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is behaving like an insane person. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack insane people, that you have brought this one to behave like an insane person in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”
So, David is released from the king’s custody in Gath. And after he departed, he wrote and sung Psalm 34. In 1 Samuel 22, we get the details on where he was when the Psalm was written.
1 Samuel 22:1-2, So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard about it, they went down there to him. Then everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.
This is the backstory on the Psalm. These are the circumstances of the Psalm. David, is on the run for his life. There are soldiers being sent to search for him wherever he goes. He ends up acting insane in order to find a way of escape. And there is debate amongst scholars as to whether David should have done it that way, it is a matter of dispute, it could seem that his cleverness is what cleared him from a likely death sentence, but in Psalm 34 a Psalm centered on God as his rescue, refuge and salvation, there is no question that David knew, only God had ultimately gotten him through.
Those surrounding him in the cave all have situations in their lives as well. They may not be running from King Saul, but they are described as those who are in distress, in debt, and discontented. The text reads “everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, everyone who was discontented.” David became their captain, and as they are all hiding out in a cave, running for their lives, or running from something in their lives, David turns their attention off of their conditions, and moves them to magnify the Lord.
Psalm 34:1-3, I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. my soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (NASB 95’)
O, magnify the Lord with me, David sang. They could have magnified their fight, their plight, they could have magnified many things, David sang, magnify the Lord! When you magnify something, it doesn’t become bigger, but it becomes bigger to you. When we magnify the Lord, He does become greater than He already is, but He becomes greater to us.
- Know that Now is the Time to Praise Him
- David begins Psalm 34 with “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”
- The word “bless” is translated “I will praise the Lord at all times” in the NLT, and “I will extol the Lord at all times” in the NIV.
- The reason for this, is because the root word describes each of those aspects. It is the Hebrew word, “barak,” it is found in Scripture 332 times, and means “to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration, to praise, or to salute.”
- I will praise, bless, adore the Lord at all times…and His praise will always be in my mouth.
- The word for “praise” used there is tehillah. It is found in the Bible 56 times and means to sing praise, bring adoration, or give thanksgiving to God.
Psalm 66:8-9, Bless (barak) our God, you peoples, and sound His praise (tehilah) abroad.
- In Psalm 34:1, David is essentially saying, “I will praise the Lord always, in public and in private and my praise to him will not just be in my mind, my praise will be in my mouth…I will tell of Him, I will sing of Him!
- This reminds me of another Psalm, Psalm 107, “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”
- This is a through line in Scripture, we saw in the book of Acts, chapter 1, Jesus says, “you will be my witnesses!”
- From Romans 10:14, how can people believe in One they haven’t heard?
Illus. If not you…
- Can you imagine what the people might have been thinking in that cave with David? While I am not sure, I do know their disposition, down and out and distressed, can you imagine when David became their captain and began singing this Psalm?
- They may have been thinking, “we hear you, but seriously David, not right now!” Or, “quiet down, they might hear you!” or, “look at your situation, you really want to praise Him?”
- We don’t know exactly what the others were thinking, but I do know that when it comes you and me, we often put certain parameters on when, where, and what we will praise the Lord for.
Illus. Church clothes.
Psalm 34:2-3, My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
- When David wrote this, he did not have much to boast about, he had a calling ahead of him, he had the promises of God, he had hope for the future, but based on his present conditions, he could have easily left it all up to question. David said, I will make my boast in the Lord.
- “Boast” here is another word for “praise,” Halal, which is found 165 times. To make a boast, brag, to make a show, make into a fool. Put together: We can render it this way, to boast, brag, to make a show, even if one appears foolish.
- As he boasts in the Lord, he acknowledges, the humble will hear it and rejoice! The humble, the those in distress, in debt, and discontent, the lowly, will hear his boast, and rejoice!
- And David invites them all into the place of praise. He tells those in the cave, “o, magnify the Lord with me! Let us exalt His name together!”
- Really? Right now? I am in a moment where there are some other things, some other difficulties that have been magnified for me, they are all I can see! Well, David takes them higher…Magnify the Lord, let us exalt Him together!
- David says, now is the right time! From there, He takes to testimony.
Psalm 34:4-7, I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them.
- Verses 4 to 7 offer a bit of testimony. When David was out there acting crazy, he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard him, and answered him, and delivered him.
- Taste and See That He is Good
Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
- David calls the people to taste and see that the Lord is good…
- The way the words are ordered, I believe are important.
Illus. It is good.
- What were those in the cave tasting as David told them this? Life’s troubles. Where did they seek refuge? The cave of Adullam.
- David, wrote how blessed, which here is the word for “happy,” is the one who takes refuge in the Lord!
Psalm 34:9-14, Fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no lack of anything. The young lions do without and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the person who desires life and loves length of days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
- David says in verse 9, fear the Lord, you His saints…
- The phrase, “Fear the Lord,” is something that is found throughout the Bible. Depending on what translation of the Bible you have, that phrase can be found over 150 times.
- Jesus spoke about the importance of the fear of God rather than people, because people can destroy a person’s body, but God has power over the soul (Mt. 10:28).
- The fear of God for the unbeliever is the fear of judgement and eternal death (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31).
- For the believer, it is reverence and awe, which brings about true surrender. (Heb. 12:28-29).
- For the believer, the fear of God is not something to be afraid of. Rather, it is a world view of sorts. I am not afraid of God, but I have a healthy fear, reverence, and respect for Him. I do not want to displease Him.
- The questions in that are, is what I am doing in agreement with God? Would he want me to do what I am doing? Would what I am doing offend him?
- It is reverence that impacts the way we live; it is tied to action.
Proverbs 9:10, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
- David continued, those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. NASB 95, reads, those who fear and seek the Lord, “shall not be in want.”
Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
- I shall not want, or be in want, I shall not lack, or, I want for nothing.
- Newer translations say “I have all that I need…”
- The idea is not that I have all my wants…But, all my needs are supplied by my shepherd. Not lacking, not deficient, content in the Lord’s hands.
- While Jesus has called Himself the Good Shepherd, while we know that His sheep are to hear His voice, that He came that we would have life to the full (John 10:10), so often we are looking to make our own way.
- Here David ties it to the fear of the Lord. Those who submit to and seek the Lord won’t lack any good thing.
Psalm 84:11, He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.
- In Psalm 34:11, David follows his previous statements by offering a lesson. In verse 11, David wrote “ I will teach you the fear of the Lord!”
- Here is his lesson, “if you love life and want to see good days, keep your tongue from evil, keep your lips from telling lies, turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it!”
III. Choose to Take Refuge in Him
Psalm 34:15-16, The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are toward their cry for help. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to eliminate the memory of them from the earth.
- David notes the watchful eyes of the Lord on those who are His. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous. He watches over them. It is not watching over in such a way that he is peering down, waiting for a mistake…Rather, He is watching over with care, concern, protection and guidance. To strongly support them.
2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. (NASB 95’)
- The Lord’s ears are open to your prayers. I am sure there are people you would like to communicate with, but you can’t. You will get their assistant, or their answering service. Well, the Lord’s ear is attentive to the prayers of the righteous, that is the reality.
- David is speaking from experience. The Lord was watching him when he got into a troubling situation, David knew it. The Lord heard him when he cried.
- And so, David tells those in the cave, and you and I, that this is not just true for him but for all who have given their lives to the Lord.
Psalm 34:17-22, The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The afflictions of the righteous are many, but the Lord rescues him from them all. He protects all his bones, not one of them is broken. Evil will bring death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will suffer for their guilt. The Lord redeems the souls of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will suffer for their guilt.
- Those who pursue God, are rescued by God. Those who choose God to be their refuge, are redeemed by God. But those who choose evil, those who choose to be far from God, will remain far from God.
- I encourage you to magnify the Lord, to taste and see, and know that your reality presently can be the reality of those who choose to take refuge in Him.
- To take refuge in, is to flee for protection in, to put one’s trust in, the place to put their hope.
- Nobody who take refuge in Him, will suffer for their guilt.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 25:3, No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.