1. I bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
“Others may do what they please, and murmur, and complain, and be filled with dread and apprehension of the future; but I will bless the Lord at all times. I can always see something for which I ought to bless him. I can always see some good which will come out of blessing him. Therefore will I bless him at all times. And this,” says the Psalmist, “I will not only do in my heart, but I will do it with my tongue. His praise shall continually be in my mouth,” that others may hear it, that others may begin to praise him, too, for murmuring is contagious, and so, thank God, is praise; and one man may learn from another–take the catchword and the keyword out of another man’s mouth, and then begin to praise God with him. “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” What a blessed mouthful! If some people had God’s praises in their mouths, they would not so often have fault-finding with their fellow-men.
“If half the breath thus vainly spent” in finding fault with our fellow-Christians were spent in prayer and praise, how much happier, how much richer, we should be spiritually! “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.
Boasting is generally annoying. Even those that boast themselves cannot endure that other people should boast. But there is one kind of boasting that even the humble can bear to hear–nay they are glad to hear it. “The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” That must be boasting in God–a holy glorying and extolling the Most High with words sought out with care that might magnify his blessed name. You will never exaggerate when you speak good things of God. It is not possible to do so. Try, dear brethren, and even boast in the Lord. There are many poor, trembling, doubting, humble souls that can hardly tell whether they are the Lord’s people or not, and are half afraid whether they shall be delivered in the hour of trouble, that will become comforted when they hear you boasting. “The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” “Why,” says the humble soul, “God that helped that man can help me. He that brought him up through the deep waters, and landed him safely, can also take me through the river and through the sea, and give me final deliverance. 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.
He cannot do enough of it himself. He wants others to come in and help him. First, he charges his own heart with the weighty and blessed business of praising God, and then he invites all around to unite with him in the sacred effort. “Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name together.”
4. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
That was David’s testimony. That is mine. Brother, that is yours. Is it not? Sister, is not that yours too? Well, if you have such a blessed testimony, be sure to bear it. Often do you whisper it in the mourner’s ear, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me.” Tell it in the scoffer’s ear. When he says, “There is no God,” and that prayer is useless, say to him, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” It is a pity that such a sweet encouraging profitable testimony should be kept back. Be sure at all proper times to make it known. But it is not merely ourselves. There are others who can speak well of God.
5. They looked unto him, and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed.
And who were they? Why, all the people of God–the whole company of the saints in heaven, and the saints on earth. It can be said of them all, “They looked to him, and were lightened.” As there is life in a look, so is there light in a look. Oh! you that looked to Christ and live, at first look to him again, if it is dark with you tonight, and speedily it shall be light round about you. “They looked unto him, and were lightened.”
6. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Who was he? He was a poor man–any poor man–nothing very particular about him, but he was poor–a poor man. What did he do? He cried. That was the style of praying he adopted–as a child cries–the natural expression of pain. Poor man, he did not know how to pray a fine prayer, and he could not have preached you a sermon if you had given him a bishop’s salary for it; but he cried. He could do that. You do not need to go to the Board School to learn how to cry. Any living child can cry. This poor man cried. What came of it? “The Lord heard him.” I do not suppose anybody else did; or, if they did, they laughed at it. But it did not signify to him. The Lord heard him. And what came of that? He “saved him out of all his troubles.” Oh! is there a poor man here tonight in trouble. Had he not better copy the example of this other poor man? Let him cry to the Lord about it. Let him come and bring his burdens before the great One who hears poor men’s prayers. And, no doubt, that poor man lived to tell the same tale as he who wrote this verse. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard and saved him out of all his troubles.”
7. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them.
It is no wonder, then, that they are delivered, for the angels are always handy. They are waiting round about God’s people. Lo, they are not at a distance to fly swiftly and come for our rescue, but God has set a camp of angels round about all his people. Are we not royally attended? What a portion is ours! Many are they that be against us, but glorious are they that be for us, both in their number and their strength. But the text does not intend so much the angels, as one blessed, glorious, covenant angel–the angel of the Lord, the messenger of God. He it is that holds his camp hard by his people, and sends his messengers for their rescue in all times of difficulty.
8. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
That is the language of experience. Some of us have lived by trusting God for many years, and, instead of growing weary of it, we would invite others to do the same. Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good. You cannot know his goodness without tasting it. But there was never a soul yet that did taste of the goodness of the Lord but what could bear cheerful testimony that it was even so. “Oh! taste and see.” Partake of it. Become practically acquainted with it. Trust God yourselves, and none of you shall ever have to complain of God. To your latest hour you will have to find fault with yourselves, but never once will you have to accuse God of changeableness, or of unfaithfulness, or even of forgetfulness. “Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good, for blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
9, 10. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
They are very strong, those young lions. They are fierce. They are rapacious. They are cunning. And yet they do lack and suffer hunger. And there are many men in this world that are very clever, strong in body, and active in mind. They say that they can take care of themselves, and perhaps they do appear to prosper; but we know that often those who are the most prosperous apparently are the most miserable of men. They are young lions, but they do lack and suffer hunger. But when a man’s soul lives upon God, he may have very little of this world, but he will be perfectly content. He has learnt the secret of true happiness. He does not want any good things, for the things that he does not have he does not wish to have. He brings his mind down to his estate, if he cannot bring his estate to his mind. He is thankful to have a little spending money on the road, for his treasure is above. He likes to have the best things last, and so he is well content, if he has food and raiment, to urge on his way to the rest which remaineth for the people of God. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
11. Come, ye children.
Ye that are beginning life–you that want to know where true happiness is found.
11. Hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
It is that which you want to know, beyond everything else.
12, 13. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
He that can rule his tongue can rule his whole body. Alas! that unruly member destroys peace and happiness in thousands of cases. The tongue can no man tame, but the grace of God can tame it; and that man begins life with a prospect of happiness whose tongue has been tamed by grace.
14. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
True happiness is found in true holiness. “Depart from evil.” That is, do not go after it. But it is much more than that. Go away from it. Give it a wide berth. “Depart from evil.” But be not satisfied with the negatives. It is not enough to say, “I do not do any evil,” but do good. The only way to keep out the evil is to fill the soul full of good. We must be active in the cause of God, or Satan will soon lead us into sin. “Depart from evil and do good.”
“Seek peace.” Be of a quiet turn of mind. Be always ready to forgive. “Seek peace and pursue it.” That is, when it runs away, run after it. Make up your mind that you will have it. There are some that seek quarrels. There are some that seek revenge. As for you, seek peace and pursue it.
15. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
God is all eye and all ear, and all his eye and all his ear are for his people. Are you distressed in heart? God sees your distress. Are you crying in secret in the bitterness of your soul? God hears your cry. You are not alone. O lonely spirit, broken spirit, be not dismayed; be not given to despair. God is with you. If he sees nothing else, he will see you. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous.” And if he hears no one else in the world, he will hear you. “His ears are open to their cry.”
16. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
You know what we say sometimes. “I set my face against such a thing as that.” Now God sets his face against them that do evil. You will come to an end, my friend. Your happiness, like a bubble painted with rainbow colours, may be the object of foolish desires; but in a little while it will burst and be gone, as the bubble is, and there will be nothing left of you. Even your remembrance will be wiped out from the face of the earth. What numbers of books have been written against God of which you could not get a copy now, except you went to a museum! What numbers of men have lived that have been scoffers; and they have had great names amongst the circles of unbelievers, but they are quite forgotten now! But the Christian Church treasures up names of poor, simple-hearted Christian men and women–treasures them up like jewels, and their fame is fresh after hundreds of years.
17. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
That is how we live, if you want to know. God makes us righteous, and then we cry. We often praise him. We desire to have our mouth full of it. But we cry as well, and whenever we cry God hears, and our troubles are removed.
18. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Are you here tonight, poor weeping Mary? Are you here, broken- hearted, troubled sinner? Are you here? Are you seeking the Lord? Do not seek him any longer. You have got him. Read the text, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” He is with you now. Speak to him; cry to him; trust him. You shall find deliverance this night.
19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous:
You should hear some of them talk, and you would soon know that; for I know some of the righteous that seldom talk of anything else. “Oh! for badness of trade!” They have been losing money–oh! ever since I knew them. They had not any when they started, but they have gone on losing money every year; and I believe they always will. And they always have pains of body. The weather is so bad. And they always have ungrateful friends. And the church they belong to is not up to the mark. Indeed, there is nothing around them that is right. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.”
Well now, dear brethren, as that is recorded in God’s Word, and as most of us have a pretty good acquaintance with that subject, I do not think that it is necessary for all of us to insist upon it every day. Could not we go on to the next part of the verse? “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” but– but–
19. But the LORD delivereth him out of the them all.
Not out of some of the, but out of them all, however numerous they may be.
20. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
He sustains no real injury. He gets flesh-wounds and bruises, but his bones are not broken. That is to say, the substantial part of his nature is well kept and preserved.
Exposition on Psalm 34:1-20 Charles Spurgeon