What does Psalm 34:2 mean?
ESV: My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
NIV: I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
NASB: My soul will make its boast in the Lord; The humble will hear it and rejoice.
CSB: I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad.
NLT: I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.
KJV: My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
NKJV: My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Verse Commentary:
A champion warrior, David had survived many battles. For example, 1 Samuel 18:5 states that "David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him [into battle]." In verses 6–7 we learn that when David was returning home from defeating the Philistines, the women came out of all the cities singing and dancing. They joyfully sang, "Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

However, David remained humble. He did not boast about his past victories. Nor did he boast about his recent escape from the Philistines at Gath. Instead, he boasted in the Lord, and encouraged the humble to hear his praise of the Lord and rejoice. Perhaps David was addressing his men as "the humble." This is likely meant as a teaching, or an admonition, for his men to take on that characteristic. The apostle Paul wrote that God had chosen the low and despised so no human being might boast (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). He said, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Verse Context:
Psalm 34:1–7 expresses David's determination to extoll God constantly. He invites the humble to hear his praise and join him in magnifying the Lord. God answered David's prayer for deliverance; this is probably about David's escape from the Philistine king, Abimelech (1 Samuel 21:10–15). Thanks to this and other experiences, David is confident the Lord protects and delivers all who fear Him.
Chapter Summary:
David praises the Lord for delivering him from the Philistines, and he invites others to join him in singing joyfully to the Lord. He extols the virtue of fearing the Lord and remembering His goodness. He encourages the Lord's people to respect God and offers wisdom leading to a long and blessed life. At the end of this psalm David emphasizes the distinction the Lord draws between the wicked and the righteous. He cares for the righteous and will not condemn them, but He condemns the wicked.
Chapter Context:
David composed this psalm after he escaped from the Philistines at Gath. He accomplished this by feigning insanity and later sheltered in the cave of Adullum. This experience is recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10—22:1. Like Psalm 25, this is an acrostic psalm. Every verse except the final one begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. First Peter 2:3 alludes to the psalm's eighth verse, and 1 Peter 3:10–12 quotes verses 12–16 of Psalm 34. John 19:36 refers to Psalm 34:20.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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