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Psalm chapter 34

New International Version

1 Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left. 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.
English Standard Version

1 Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
King James Version

1 {A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour 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. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. 20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
New American Standard Bible

1 A Psalm of David when he feigned 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. 2 My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. 10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
New Living Translation

1 A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away. I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. 2 I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. 3 Come, let us tell of the LORD's greatness; let us exalt his name together.
4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 6 In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. 7 For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 9 Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. 10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD. 12 Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? 13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! 14 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. 16 But the LORD turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. 17 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. 20 For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. 22 But the LORD will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Christian Standard Bible

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 I will boast in the LORD; the humble will hear and be glad.
3 Proclaim the LORD's greatness with me; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! 9 You who are his holy ones, fear the LORD, for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 Young lions lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the LORD will not lack any good thing. 11 Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech.
14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help. 16 The face of the LORD is set against those who do what is evil, to remove all memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. 19 One who is righteous has many adversities, but the LORD rescues him from them all. 20 He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. 22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants, and all who take refuge in him will not be punished.

What does Psalm chapter 34 mean?

Psalm 34 opens with something David expresses several times: a vow to constantly praise and honor God (Psalm 61:8; 145:1–2). David's comment about his "boast" being in God relates to Paul's similar references in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 10:17; Galatians 6:14). David's song appeals to others to join him in this worship (Psalm 34:1–3).

The preface to this psalm refers to David escaping from Abimelech by altering his behavior. This event is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10–15. There, facing capture by the Philistines, David pretended to be insane. In that culture, those suffering insanity were thought to either be cursed by the gods, or specially touched with divine messages. In either case, most people wanted no contact, at all, with such people. What could have become a disaster for David ended in his safety. In this psalm, David gives thanks to God for hearing his prayers, and for protecting him (Psalm 34:4–7).

After thanking God for rescue, David turns to appeal to others to trust in the Lord. To "taste" means something more than a superficial experience. Those who fully engage in God's will find that He is powerful and merciful. As a former shepherd, David would have been familiar with lions, and knew that even those powerful creatures would suffer without food and shelter. David fully recognizes that faith in God does not make a person immune to hardship (Psalm 34:19). Still, he notes that God provides all that His people truly need (Psalm 34:8–10).

The next passage of the psalm is like the words of Solomon: promoting godly wisdom and the relative safety it provides (Proverbs 1:7–8). Obedience to God is not a magical defense against all harm (Psalm 34:19), but it keeps a person away from unnecessary consequences. Those who want the best outcomes in life are wise to pursue godliness and goodness, rather than sin (Psalm 34:11–14).

In keeping with those ideas, David then notes that God is aware of the struggles of His people. He is also aware of the sins of the wicked. Where God's attention for those who love Him is focused on compassion and mercy, His attention to those who are evil is centered on judgment (Psalm 34:15–18).

In the final section of this psalm, David both acknowledges the reality of suffering and the ultimate rescue provided by God. God's rescue of His people is not always in a physical sense (Hebrews 11:13–16; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10; John 16:1–4, 33), but He promises ultimate salvation (John 10:28) to those who follow Him (Psalm 34:19–22).

Another interesting comment in this last passage is the reference to broken bones. Verse 20 mentions God preventing the bones of the righteous from being broken. In immediate context, this is clearly hyperbole: an exaggeration for effect. David's main point is that God is infinitely capable of protecting His people. However, this statement also serves as a prophecy about the death of the Messiah. Passover lambs were to be prepared without breaking the bones (Exodus 12:46), and Jesus was crucified without suffering any such injury (John 19:33–37). Paul notes that Jesus serves as the fulfillment of the Passover lamb type (1 Corinthians 5:7)—this comment by David is part of that foreshadowing.