David wrote this Psalm when, despite years of faithful service, he incurred the jealousy of King Saul that led to his desire for David’s death.
What do we fear? Honestly? What are the things that swirl around in your mind when you close your eyes to fall asleep?
Me?… my daughter is half way around the world in Eastern Europe where the climate is anything but safe… I have surgery scheduled for next week , and I just signed all the papers that say “you could be maimed, disfigured or die from this surgery” (I know they are just CYA forms, but seriously!!)
And then there are the existential fears…does my life impact others for good? Am I making a difference? At 50, I am really on the back half of my life so I’d better get busy realizing my dreams. There are more of course… but these are the ones that kept me awake last night!
When David was afraid, his response is: “I sought the LORD and He delivered me from all my fears.’ Was this simple for David? Did he have the same struggles and questions I have? What exactly does this mean?
34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears?
Delivered: (natsal) is the Hebrew word and can be translated: to strip,plunder, snatch away, deliver
I like the visual image of God snatching away my fears… as if to say, “Give them to Me to carry and deal with.” The trick is in my releasing them instead playing tug-o-war with God, just in case He is not going to handle them the way I may want Him to.
My guess it, that God’s way of handling my fears has to do with trust and surrender vs Him fixing hem according to my plans and ideas!! 🙂
What does it mean to be delivered from your fears? What would that look like?
34:5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy!
So.. is this because things work out? Or because looking to Him changes our perspective. (see Job , who looked to God and nothing changed for a while.)
34:6 This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all of his troubles.
Hmmmm… this is a tough one for me… as there are troubles that still exist after I have cried…
34:7 The angel of the LORD encamps around them and defends/ delivers them.
David wants deliverance from Saul who is seeking to kill him. I want to read this verse as meaning that God will deliver me form ALL my troubles, but I think it has a deeper meaning that God will deliver me from the death that will claim my eternity through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Of course I can pray that God will deliver me form earthly troubles… and sometimes He does. But other times, they remain and my faith HAS to be in something greater than the conditions and circumstances of this life.
Clearly these verses tell me that when I seek the Lord? He hears me. He delivers me from all my fears. He gives me joy that is radiant. I have no reason to be ashamed. God saves me out of all my troubles. He encamps all around me and delivers me.
When I read these verses, I am both encouraged at the promise and perplexed in the places where my fears remain, my face is not radiant, and my heart is struggling.
This is a classic “both/and” for me… and I am still in process learning and applying the truths of this passage.
But this much I know … I must SEEK the Lord. I must LOOK to Him. I must CRY OUT. I must FEAR Him.
What are your fears? Where do you seek the Lord and find that He has delivered you?
Where are you radiant with Joy because you are a precious child of the King of Kings. (Isn’t that reason enough?)
Digging Deeper: (for those who want more)
Read Psalm 34 in its entirety.
Look at the meanings of these word and see how they expand the meaning of these verses for you.
34:4- sought the LORD- (darah) – to resort to, frequent, ask for, require, demand
I love the image create by the word : require – I require the Lord to deal with my fears!
34:4-fears: (megowrah) -what I dread,
What do you dread?
34:5- radiant (nahar) -shine, beam, light, flow, stream
What streams from our faces, our countenance because of our faith in Jesus.? Do we radiate joy? If not, why?
34:6- the poor man: (aniy) – needy, humble. lowly
it require humility and lowliness to admit our need and cry out for help
34:7- delivered (yasha) -delivered, liberated, be victorious,
what would it look live to be liberated from your fears? to be victorious over them?
34:7- encamps (chanah)- remain, lay siege against.
Imagery from the Old Testament is of a surrounding army with the intent to take over, The angel of the Lord is here to lay siege to our fears and take them over with the Truth of God’s goodness and provision. This truth renews our minds with hope!
34:7- rescues: (chalats) equips, make strong, brace up, invigorate, deliver, save
Apply this word and the various meanings above to address the fears that you identified earlier. What would lit look like to be rescued from your fears, to be made strong, or able o brace up against them?
Two sermons on this passage that you may want to read
Daily Lectionary readings:
Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19; Matthew 6:7-15
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about ½ hour a day)
Read on Day 7: Mark 1-5