Today, Friday January 27
A Song and a Sermon
A Psalm of David When He Pretended Madness Before Abimelech, Who Drove Him Away and He Departed.
“I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.”
Today we will begin looking at one of “my favorite” chapters in all the Bible! I have probably quoted more verses from Psalm 34 in my private devotional and prayer times than from any other chapter in Scripture. Especially in times of suffering, disappointment, discouragement, and being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a husband, a father, and a pastor, I have found great comfort and inspiration and hope by meditating and praying these verses.
For starters, here are some of them: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears (v. 4). “This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles (v. 6). The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (v. 10). And in the second part of the Psalm these verses have greatly encouraged me: “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all” (vv. 17-19).
When you know the background to this great chapter you will appreciate it even more and probably relate to it in even a more personal way! The superscription on this psalm tells us it was written by David when the Philistines seized him in Gath. Let us remind ourselves of his situation.
David had killed Goliath the Philistine giant of Gath, in the battle of the Valley of Elah. Instantly he becomes a national hero and this kick starts his military and political career. The slaying of Goliath not only spelled triumph for David, it spelled trouble as well. It meant trouble with King Saul, for Saul was instantly jealous of David, wished him ill, and began a campaign of persecution which lasted to the day of his death.
First Saul eyed David with a resentful, envious eye. Then twice he cast a javelin at him. He set a gang of bullies to murder David in his bed, he hounded him all over the country. And so it went until David, for all his trust in the Lord, began to weary of this deadly game of hide and seek in and out of the cities and strongholds of Israel. At last, David's faith failed.
David then made a decision that I will never understand, he goes down to Gath and seeks asylum with Achish, one of the great Philistine lords. Achish is called Abimelech in the title of this Psalm. The Philistine king is called Achish in 1 Samuel, but the dynastic title of Philistine kings was Abimelech. Egyptian rulers were called Pharaoh and the Amalekite kings called Agag. Too late David realized his mistake, so he pretended to be mad or insane, and he did it so well that the disgusted Achish “drove him away” out of the land. Once safely back in Israel David went to the famous cave of Adullam in the hill country of Judea southwest of Jerusalem. There he waited while his band of fellow outlaws assembled. There he picked up his harp and converted the cave into a cathedral, echoing to the strains of Psalm 34.
David wanted his experience and his escape, and above all the lesson he had learned, to be remembered, so he wrote this song and sermon. First David lifted up his heart in gratitude to God, then he gathered his outlaws around him and gave them a sermon. As we look at Psalm 34 we will find that the first part of it is a song, the second part is a sermon. The first part is devotional, the second is doctrinal. Part one shows us the grace of God, part two the government of God.
As we read and meditate on this beautiful song and sermon, it is my prayer that you will, “Magnify the LORD with me, And we will exalt His name together.”