September 20, 2014

Tom Lowe


Title: Taste and See that the Lord is Good.

A psalm of David.


Psalm 34 (KJV)

1 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.




After celebrating God's gracious dealings with him, the Psalmist exhorts others to put His providential care to the test, and instructs them on how to secure it. He then contrasts God's care of His people and His corrective providence towards the wicked.




1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.


I will bless the Lord at all times

 “I will Bless the Lord at all times;” even in times of adversity. David's fortunes had been fading and were now at the lowest ebb. He had fled from the court of Saul after learning that Saul was determined to put him to death (1 Samuel 20:31). He had hoped to find a safe refuge with Achish, but had been disappointed. He was on the point of becoming a fugitive and an outlaw, forced to live in secret hideouts and caves—David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam. . .” (1 Samuel 22:1). At the time, he did not have a large body of followers. We must admire his piety in composinga song of thanksgiving to God, at such a time.


The phrase, “At all times,” as it is used here means in every situation of life; in every event that occurs. The idea is that he would Bless the Lord” both publicly and privately; in prosperity and in adversity; in safety and in danger; in joy and in sorrow. It would be a great principle of his life, indicating the deep feeling in his soul that God was always to be regarded as an object of adoration and praise. I pray we are able to say along with David, I will praise the Lord "At all times," in every situation, under every circumstance, before, during and after trials, in bright days of happiness, and dark nights of fear. A person who praises God for mercies shall never be without a mercy for which to praise. To “bless the Lord” is never out of season.


He will “Bless the Lord” by crediting Him with being the source of all blessings, and by giving to Him honour, praise, and glory, both as the God of nature and the God of providence; and He will do it every day, and all the day long. And he will continually praise Him as the God of grace, and the author of all spiritual blessings. The Lord’s saints have plenty of reasons to bless God in times of adversity as well as prosperity, since it might have been much worse with them than it is. Every day they receive an assortment of mercies, and all things work together for their good.


The term "I will" indicates that he determined to follow-through with this promise; because he knows to whom the praise is due, and what is due, and for what and when. Our gratitude is to be given to Jehovah, and not to any secondary causes. The Lord has by virtue of His righteous acts a monopoly in his creatures' praise.


His praise shall continually be in my mouth

“His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (compare: Psalm 92:1, 2; Psalm 145:1, 2; Psalm 146:1, 2; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18); not the "praise" which God might express, but that of which He is the object; which He is entitled to, and is given to Him on account of His perfect nature, and the works of His hands, and the blessings of His providence and grace. This, the psalmist says, would be in his mouth: his meaning is that he would not only retain in his heart a grateful sense of the divine blessings, but he would express it with his lips. He would both make melody in his heart to the Lord, and vocally sing His praise; and would do it "continually,” for as long as he lived—“While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God. . .” (Psalm 146:2). This expresses the "purpose" of the psalmist; and this is an indicator of his nature of true piety. With a truly pious man the praise of God is constant; and it is an indication of true religion when a man is always "of a mind" to bless God, whatever may occur. Atheism, unbelief, skepticism, worldliness, false philosophy, murmuring and complaining when under the trials and amidst the dark things of life are characteristics of the impious; whereas, true religion, faith, love, spirituality, Christian philosophy, thinking, values, and beliefs—always see in God, an object of praise. People who have no real piety, but who pretend to be pious, are inclined to praise and bless God only in times of sunshine and prosperity; but true piety always regards Him as worthy of praise—in the storm as well as in the sunshine; in the dark night of calamity, as well as in the bright days of prosperity. Job said, "His praise shall continually be in my mouth. . ." (Job 13:15), not merely in my heart, but in my mouth too. Our thankfulness is not to be an inarticulate thing; our tongue is our glory, and it ought to reveal the glory of God. What a blessed mouthful is God's praise! How sweet, how purifying, how perfuming! If men's mouths were always full of God’s praise, there would be no grumbling against God, or slandering of neighbors.


"Continually" must be understood as meaning either "every day" or "many times every day," but it must not be taken literally, since it would bring the business of life to a standstill. 



2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.


My soul shall make her boast in the Lord

“My soul shall make her boast in the Lord” (compare to Psalm 44:8; and for the meaning of "boasting in the Lord," there is Jeremiah 9:24, "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which executeth loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth"), not in men, nor in any outward indulgence, nor in any works of righteousness, but in the Lord; in the Word of the Lord; in the Lord Jesus Christ; in His wisdom, strength, riches, righteousness, redemption, salvation; and in communion with him: and this is not tongue but soul boasting; and not flashy and selfish, but solid, spiritual, and whole-hearted; and with all the powers and faculties of the soul—“That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29). No man should boast "in the presence of God;” not in their families, ancestry, and background; nor in their influence, power, and authority; nor in their riches, wealth, and prosperity; nor in their wisdom, learning, and prominence: for however these may be “gloried in” before men, they cannot be “gloried in” before God. These things do not impress Him, nor will they be esteemed by Him, or men on account of them. Compare:

  • Ps 105:3: “Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.”
  • Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”


I myself will rejoice and revel in him. The word "boast" refers to that on which a man would attach great importance to himself; that which would be the most prominent in his mind when he endeavored to call to remembrance what he could reflect on with the most pleasure. His joy would spring from the fact that there was a God; that He was such a wonderful and great God, and that he could regard Him as His God. This would be his chief honor—that on which he would value himself the most. Of all the things that we can possess in this world, the crowning distinction is, that we have a God, and that he is such a great, and wonderful, and gracious God, as he is.


The humble shall hear thereof


David asked God to remember “the humble” in Psalm 10:12—Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble” (Psalm 10:12); but, who are the humble? Perhaps they can be described with four words:

  • The “pious”—those who have or show an obedient spirit of reverence for God or those who earnestly wish to fulfill their religious obligations.
  • The “meek”—those who have learned patience in the school of suffering.
  • The “poor”—the afflicted; those who are in the lower walks of life.
  • The “godly” are often called “the humble” in Scripture.


The humble “shall hear thereof”—they should hear that the Lord Jesus put His trust in God, and they should find joy in being led to God as their portion and their hope. Moreover, they “shall hear” of the deliverance the psalmist had received from the hands of his enemies; or of his blessing and praising the Lord for the same, and boasting of Him as the God of his salvation; or of both. The psalmist seems to have referred here to “the humble,” because:

(a)  They would be more likely to appreciate this than those of higher rank, or than those who had never experienced affliction.

(b)He would be uniquely qualified to impart support and consolation to them, which he had gained from his own experience.


And be glad

“The humble” shall rejoice with them that rejoice, and are “glad” that others share in the goodness and grace of God; and also because by such an instance of the divine power and kindness they are encouraged to hope that He will, in His own time, deliver them out of their afflictions and distresses. Moreover, the humble shall “be glad;” both for their love for me and for the public good of Israel, which they know that I desire and seek above all things; and for the comfort and benefit of my example to them in similar  positions of difficulty, distress, or need. They will anticipate joy for themselves when they hear of my rejoicing. 



3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.


O magnify the Lord with me

The word "magnify” means literally "to make great," and then, to make great in the view of the mind, or to regard and treat as great. The idea is that he wished each and every one, who were in circumstances similar to those which he had experienced, to have a true sense of the greatness of God, and of his claims to love and praise. Compare:

  • Psalm 40:17:But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks on me: you are my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”
  • Psalm 69:30: “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
  • Psalm 70:4: “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
  • Luke 1:46: “And Mary said, My soul does magnify the Lord.”


“O magnify the Lord with me”—this seems to be addressed primarily to the "humble," those referred to in the previous verse. The psalmist invites the humble ones, who he knew would rejoice at the goodness of God to him, to join with him in ascribing greatness to the Lord, which is what is meant by “magnify” him; because He cannot be made great by men, only declared how great he is, and that can only be done in an imperfect manner. The humble could appreciate what he would say, since they could understand the nature of his feelings in view of his deliverance, which was much like theirs. He calls upon them to rejoice with him in the goodness of God. Seeing that he and they had common tragedies and trials, so might they have common joys. Given that they were united in danger and sorrow, so it was proper that they should be united in joy and in praise.


"I sought the Lord, and he heard me." It must have been in a very confused manner that David prayed, and there must have been much of self-sufficiency in his prayer, or he would not have resorted to methods of such dubious morality as pretending to be mad and behaving as a lunatic; yet his poor limping prayer had an acceptance and brought him succor: the more reason for them celebrating the abounding mercy of the Lord. We may seek God even when we have sinned. If sin could blockade the mercy-seat it would be all over with us, but the mercy is that there are gifts even for the rebellious, and an advocate for men who sin.


And let us exalt his name together

“And let us exalt his Name together," meaning “alike" (Ps 33:15), or, equally, without exception. Not content with praising God on his own, the psalmist calls on Israel generally to praise the Lord with him. He then proceeds, in verses 4-10 to assign reasons why God should be praised. They cannot worship Him “together;” not in the same place, because David was now banished from the place of God’s public worship, but in affection and works: let our souls come together, and let our praises meet in the ears of the all-hearing God. Or, let us worship Him alike, that is, with equal zeal and intense devotion; let no one be willing to be outstripped by another.


Let us unite in "lifting up" his name; that is, in raising it above all other things in our own estimation, and in the view of our fellow-men. “And let us exalt his name together”by proclaiming Him to be the most High; by making mention of his glorious perfections and works, so that He is exalted; and by praising him with songs and psalms; or by having the high praises of him in their mouths; and there is more pleasure as well as more glory brought to God by doing this as a congregation, or by a number of saints joining together in such worship. To magnify,” or exalt,” and similar expressions, “do not mean that we can add any thing to the glory of the name or nature of God; but that we should proclaim, and publicly celebrate his majesty and greatness, when we experience the intervention of his providence in our deliverance from any threatening evil. We should then, with the psalmist, ascribe our safety, not to our own ways, subtlety, or power, but to the care of God, who watches over us.”


"And delivered me from all my fears." God makes a perfect work of it. He clears away both our fears and their causes, all of them without exception. Glory be to his name, prayer sweeps the field, slays all the enemies and even buries their bones. Note the egoism of this verse and of those preceding it; we need not blush to speak of ourselves when in so doing we honestly aim at glorifying God, and not at exalting ourselves. Some are foolishly squeamish upon this point, but they should remember that when modesty robs God it is most immodest.



4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.


I sought the Lord, and he heard me

“I sought the Lord,” but it was not openly in a place of worship, such as the tabernacle, for he was now at Gath, where his seeking by prayer and supplication was probably not done vocally, but mentally; for he was in the midst of the servants of the king of Gath; yet he prayed earnestly, diligently, and with his whole heart, seeing that he was in great distress, when it was crucial and necessary to seek the Lord, and which showed him to be a good and wise man.


To "seek the Lord" is not merely to trust in Him, but to flee to Him, and make our requests of him, while we are still embroiled in our troubles. David apparently speaks of some special occasion on which he "sought the Lord," and some special request which he made of Him, but does not tell us what the occasion or request was. We may presume that it was in some way connected with his "escape to the cave Adullam"—David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him” (1 Samuel 22:1). But if that is not the occasion referred to in the psalm, it may have been the time when he was exposed to the persecutions of Saul, and when he sought refuge in the country of Abimelech or Achish (See 1 Samuel 21:1-15). The idea is that at that time he did not confide in his own wisdom, or trust in any abilities of his own, but that he sought the protection and guidance of God, both when he fled to Gath, and when he fled from Gath—“This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek your face, O Jacob. Selah” (Psalm 24:6).


“And he heard me”—the Lord heard and answered his inaudible prayers and silent groans, which could not be uttered.


In the following verses, David goes on to give reasons why God should be praised and glorified; he himself and others had found by experience, that He was a God of hearing and answering prayer. He first mentions his own case. God had heard and answered him, and delivered him from all his fears—not only from the death he feared, but from the anxiety caused by the fear of it.


And delivered me from all my fear

God saved him from being seized by Achish, king of Gath, and from losing his life for killing Goliath. God's people have many things to fear, both from within and from without, because of their sin, Satan, and the world; but the Lord saves them out of the hands of all their enemies, grants them his presence, and shows them their standing as believers in the true God, which, scatters all their fears. God delivered me from all my fear” as well as actual evil [Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy” (Psalm 64:1)];literally, from all the things which I fearedfrom all that he received and anticipated from Saul, and also from all that he dreaded when he found that Abimelech would not harbor him, but drove him away instead.



5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.


They looked to him, and were lightened

“They looked to him,” that is, "the humble" ones (v. 2), or they that fear Him (v. 7), andthe people who were with the psalmist. He was not alone when he fled to Abimelech; and the meaning here is that each one of those who were with him looked to God, and found light and comfort in Him. This is a reason why they should join in praising and magnifying the Lord; they "looked" up to God in prayer and by faith, when they were in distress and uncomfortable circumstances, and they looked to Him for help and deliverance, and for everything they needed in life.The psalmist seems to have had his thoughts suddenly turn from himself to those who were with him, and to have called to his remembrance how they "all" looked to God in the midst of their troubles, and how they all found relief.


“Him,” on this occasion is almost certainly, God Himself, though there are other explanations given where it is applied to David, and to the “poor man” mentioned in verse 6. If either David or the “poor man” is meant here, the sense is the same—when I was delivered (v. 4), men looked upon me with wonder and astonishment, like one saved in an extraordinary manner.


“And were lightened,” or rather, they were “enlightened,” meaning either:

(a)  “Their faces were enlightened,” or glowed with the light of joy, peace, and comfort, which comes from believing in the true God. Some render “lightened" as “flowed,” as a river does, that is, to the Lord, as in Jeremiah 31:12“Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD . . .” Here, it denotes both the number of them that looked up to the Lord in their distress, and the swiftness of their appeal to Him, and their eagerness and sincerity of mind; so faith is not only a looking to Christ, but a going to him in confident faith and trust. The idea is “shining,” a reaction to the Divine glory lighting up the face of those who seek God, when in trouble. They found light. Their faces "brightened up," or they became cheerful. Their minds were made calm, for they felt assured that God would protect them. Nothing could better express what often occurs in the time of trouble, when the heart is sad, and when the countenance is sorrowful—a dark cloud seems to come over everything. But, if one looks to God, the burden is removed from the heart, and the countenance becomes radiant, bright, and shining with hope and joy. This is probably the idea here, for this interpretation is better suited to the context in which the word occurs, than (b). We naturally think of the dying Stephen.

(b)“Their minds were enlightened” they must have been enlightened before they could look to God, but by looking to the Lord more light was gained. “He who approaches God, receives the rays of intellectual light.”


And their faces were not ashamed

“And their faces were not ashamed”; that is, they were not ashamed of having put their trust in God, or they were not disappointed. They did not say that it was a futile reliance, or that they had been foolish to trust in Him—They were confounded because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed” (Job 6:20; also see Psalm 22:5Romans 9:331 John 2:28.). The idea here is that they found God to be all they expected or hoped that he would be. Having what they prayed and looked for, and what they hoped and believed they should have; namely, deliverance and salvation, peace and pleasure, they were “not ashamed;” As they would have been if God had not responded to their appeal—“I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause” (Psalm 25:2, 3).They had no cause to repent of what they had done. What was true of them will be true of all who put their trust in God.



6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.


This poor man cried

Who is “this poor man”? Is he someone singled out from among “the humble,” who was amazingly delivered? It is the common case of the people of God to be poor and afflicted, and in their afflictions they cry unto the Lord to be sustained for as long as they are under them, and then, to be delivered out of them: or this may refer to David himself, who was poor (though not an ideal poor man), not with respect to worldly things, but was greatly afflictedin spirit; and above all greatly distressed when in the court of Achish; at which time he cried unto the Lord, which he had done many times in the past, and he did it internally. Some think that by “this poor man” (literally, "humble,") is meant Jesus Christ, who was poor in temporal things, though rich, and Lord of all; and was greatly afflicted, both in body and soul; and who, in the days of His flesh, offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears—“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7). Verse 6 is almost a repetition of verse 4, but in the third person instead of the first.


“This poor man cried”—here the psalmist returns to his own particular experience. The emphasis is on the word "this:" "This poor, afflicted, persecuted man cried." There is something much more touching in this than if he had merely said "I," or "I myself" cried. The language immediately reveals his afflicted, crushed, forsaken, desolate, and miserable condition. The word "miserable" would better express the idea than the word "poor." This afflicted man called, and Jehovah heard, and saved him out of all his distresses. Cp. Psalm 34:17Psalm 31:7. Does the poet point to himself, or someone else, or to Jesus Christ. Most Bible scholars believe David is using himself as an example, and I agree.


And the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles

The Lord always heard His son Jesus Christ, and especially on the day of His salvation, and delivered Him out of all His troubles, both of body and soul, when he raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory; and He heard David His servant, as He often did; particularly when at Gath, and made a way for Him to escape from there; and from there he went in safety to the cave of Adullam; and the Lord hears all his poor and afflicted ones, when they cry unto him, and He saves them from all their troubles, caused by sin and death, the temptations of Satan, and the persecutions of men. 



7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.


The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him

“The angel of the Lord” is an expression which has given rise to a lot of discussion. Though this angel is not explicitly identified, we can, from comparison with other passages presume that he is one of the following:

(1)   Any commissioned agent of God, such as a prophet—Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: "I am with you," declares the LORD” (Haggai 1:13).  

(2)  A created angel may be intended, perhaps a single one, which is sufficient to guard a multitude of saints, since one could destroy a vast number of enemiesat one time, as in 2 Kings 19:35—“That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” Hardly a soldier remained alive. How powerful and mighty must the holy angels be, when one angel, in one night, could bring about such a great slaughter!Or it could be applied to more than one angel, that is, to angels in general, since they are too many to be counted that are on the side of the Lord's people, and to whom they are linked—“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Angels are sent to perform acts of service for God and Christ, not primarily to men, but for the good of "those who are about to inherit salvation"; the elect, who believe, or shall believe, for whom all things, angels included, work together for good—And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). “The angel of the Lord” may be the angel whom the Lord sends, or who comes, at his command, for the purpose of protecting the people of God: that mysterious Being who appears as Jehovah’s representative in His dealings with man. This does not refer to any particular angel who is specifically called "the angel of the Lord," but it could refer to any one of the angels whom the Lord may commission for this purpose; and the phrase is equivalent to saying that "angels" encompass and protect the friends of God. The word "angel" means a "messenger," and “angel” is also applied to those holy beings around the throne of God who are sent to earth as His "messengers" to mankind; who are appointed to communicate His will, to execute His commands; or to protect His people. Since the word has a general meaning, and would denote by itself merely a messenger, the qualification is added here that it is an "angel of the Lord" that is referred to, and who becomes a protector of the people of God.

(3)  Any manifestation of the Divine presence, such as the flame in the bush (Exodus 3:2), and the winds (Psalm 35:5-6Psalm 104:4).

(4)  Jehovah Himself, as in the phrase “the angel of his presence” (Isaiah 63:9). By whom may be meant, either the uncreated Angel, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God's presence, and of the covenant, the Captain of salvation, the Leader and Commander of the people; and whose salvation is like the walls and bulwarks that protect a city. Not a created angel, but the eternal one, the Son of God, who perhaps appeared in an human form, and spoke with an articulate voice, as He frequently did—“But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied” (Genesis 22:11); and we know that this was a divine Person from his swearing by himself to Abraham—“And said, By myself have I sworn, said the LORD, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:16).


“Encampeth round about them”—these angels may be said to encamp about them, because they are a host or army (Genesis 32:1); and are the guardians of the saints, stand up for them, protect them, and minister to them. Encampeth,” literally, "pitches his tent." (See Genesis 26:17Exodus 13:20Exodus 17:1.). Sometimes the word comes to mean "to defend;" “to protect" (Zechariah 9:8). The idea here is that the angel of the Lord protects the people of God like an army defends a country. He "pitches his tent" near the people of God, and is there to guard them from danger, which is a work that God has assigned to them—Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). Though God's power is sufficient to control and direct us, yet, because of man's weaknesses and sinful condition he appoints his angels to watch over us.


Jehovah, the Angel of the Lord, protects those “that fear him”like an army encamping around a city to defend it (Zechariah 9:8); or perhaps, since he is ‘the captain of Jehovah’s host’ (Joshua 5:14), he is to be thought of as surrounding them with the angelic legions at his command.They “that fear him,” are His true friends; friendship for God is often designated by the word fear or reverence—“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1).Many angels are employed in this work of protectinggood men “that fear him” (Genesis 32:1, 2; 2 Kings 6:17).

“And delivereth them”
out of the hands of all their enemies. David had a guard, an army of angels about him while he was in the court of Achish, who kept him from being seized by his enemies, and harmed by them; and they brought him from Achish to the cave of Adullam in safety: no doubt he is speaking here of his own experience. The psalmist evidently attributes his safety from danger at the time, not to his own ability or skill; not to the strength of his own arm, or to the prowess of his followers, but, to the goodness of God in sending an angel, or a company of angels, to rescue him; and therefore, he infers that what was true of himself would be true of others, and that the general statement might be made which is presented in this verse. The doctrine is one that is frequently affirmed in the Scriptures. Nothing is more clearly or constantly asserted than that the angels are employed in defending the people of God; in leading and guiding them; in comforting them when undergoing hardship and misfortune. It may be added that no one can prove that what is here stated by the psalmist may not be literally true at the present time; and to believe that we are under the protection of angels may be as logical as it is pious. The most lonely, the most humble, the most obscure, and the poorest child of God, may have near him and around him an entourage and a defense which kings never have when their armies pitch their tents around their palaces, and when a thousand swords would at once be drawn to defend them.

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


O taste, and see that the Lord is good

“Taste and see”—try and experience. “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit” (Hebrews 6:4). God is, kind, merciful, and gracious, and especially so to all his people. The goodness of God spoken ofhere, includes both the sweetness and generosity of His nature, and the abundance and benevolence of His providence and grace; and, in asking us to taste and see this, the psalmist means that we should seriously, thoroughly, and affectionately consider it, and then put the matter to the test of experience. There is no other way of really knowing how good God is.


God is in actual fact, infinitely, perfectly, unalterably, and especially good in himself; and He communicates and disperses good to others. He is the author of all good, but not of any evil; this chiefly regards His special grace and goodness, which comes to men through Christ. All the divine Persons in the Godhead are good; the Father is good, He has good plans for His people, has provided good things for them, made good promises to them, and bestows good gifts on them: the Son is good; the good Shepherd that has laid down His life for the sheep; He is the fountain of all grace and goodness to his churches, and to particular believers; He has wrought a good work for them, the work of redemption, and He speaks a good word on their behalf in the court of heaven: the Spirit is good; He does good things in the hearts of men who come to Christ for redemption, and reveals good things to them; and godly souls, such as the psalmist calls uponhere, are capable of tasting and discerning how good the Lord is to a certain extent—“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103). While in an unregenerate state, their taste is impaired, and remains unchanged, and sin is what they feed upon with pleasure, and consequently they detest everything that is good; but they are given a new taste when converted, so they have an experimental knowledge of the grace and goodness of God in Christ, yet it is but a taste in comparison to the enjoyment of it in the heavenly state; and every taste now influences and engages trust in the Lord.


“O taste and see that the Lord is good” is a statement made to others, which is based on the experience of the psalmist.He had found protection in the Lord; he had had evidence of His goodness; and now he asks others to follow his example, and put God to the test. It is the language of piety, spoken in consideration of his personal experience; and it is the kind of language that is spoken by a young convert, whose heart is filled with joy and hope. It is how he would address his companions and friends, and all the world around; such language as one who has had special comfort, or who has experienced a special deliverance from temptation or from trouble, would speak to others. Lessons, derived from our own experience, may be shared with others, for it is the evidence which has been furnished us that God is good; therefore, we may put it to use in persuading others to come and taste His love. The idea is that by putting trust in God—by testing the consolations of religion—one would so thoroughly perceive the blessings of it—would find so much happiness in it— that he would be led to seek all his happiness there. In other words, if we could get men to try religion; to truly understand and experience it, we may be certain that they would have the same appreciation of it that we have, and that they would genuinely engage in the service of God. If those who are in danger would take refuge in Him; if sinners would believe in Him; if the afflicted would seek help from Him; if the miserable and heartbroken would cast their cares on Him; if those who have sought in vain for happiness in the world, would seek happiness in Him—they would, every one of them, find what they need, and they would renounce all else, and put their trust in Godalone. The psalmist was certain of this, and so am I.


Blessed is the man that trusteth in him

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in him" is the argument in support of the appeal contained in the first clause.   They who test the Lord by putting their confidence in Him always find Him good, and they become blessed themselves. It is not sufficient that we find Him to be a bountiful benefactor to us, but we must relish and take delight in His goodness expressed in and by His gifts, and in the contemplation of his infinite perfections and boundless love; and must be so entirely convinced and persuaded of His goodness that we are encouraged, even in the worst of times, to trust in him, and cast all our cares upon him.Trust in God is a feeling which itself blesses us. God also showers blessings on those who trust in Him—Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2.12).



9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.


O fear the Lord, ye his saints

“O fear the Lord”—the kind of fear meant here is not the dread that comes from the thought that God is just waiting for us to do something wrong, so He can hurt us in some way. In fact, it is not really fear at all, but rather respect, and reverence that is meant here.There is a great reason why they should reverence him, since he is King of saints, and respect is due Him from His creatures; and seeing they have received many instances of grace and goodness from Him, and therefore should reverence Him for his goodness's sake; and besides that, they should serve, and trust in Him, honor Him and confide in Him. Fear of God, a reverent and godly fear, will always accompany trust in God. Only His saints, know Him, and have the grace of fear in them, and so only they can exercise it on Him. The saints of God both love and respect Him—O love the LORD, all you his saints: for the LORD preserves the faithful, and plentifully rewards the proud doer” (Psalm 31:23).


“Ye his saints,” who are sanctified by His Spirit; His holy ones, and all who profess to be His friends; and so are openly and unashamedly His; and consecrated to His service—But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa 40:31).


The exhortation which follows is addressed especially to the saints, or to the pious, because the speaker professed to be a friend of God, and had personal experienced what he is sayinghere. It is the testimony of one child of God addressed to others, to encourage them by the result of his own experience.


For there is no want to them that fear him

“For there is no want to them that fear him”; not in the spiritual, since so much goodness is laid up for them; the heart of God is towards them, His secret is with them, His eye is upon them, and the sun of righteousness arises on them; and both grace and glory are given to them; nor in the temporal, since godliness, or the fear of God, has the promise of this life, as well as the life to come. There is no want to them that fear him,” since God supplies all their wants and needs.Sooner or later all their real necessities will be met, and God will bestow upon them every needed blessing. The statement here cannot be regarded as absolutely and universally true—that is, it cannot mean that they who fear the Lord will never, in any instance, be hungry or thirsty, or destitute of raiment or of a comfortable home; but it is evidently intended to be a general affirmation, and is in accordance with the other statements which occur in the Bible about the advantages of true religion in securing temporal as well as spiritual blessings from God. Thus, in 1 Timothy 4:8, it is said, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Thus, in Isaiah 33:16, it is said of the righteous man, "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."And, in Psalm 37:25, David records the result of his own observation at the end of a long life, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." But while these statements should not be interpreted as affirming absolutely that no child of God will ever be in need of food, or drink, or raiment, or home, or friends, yet it is generally true that the needs of the righteous are supplied, often in an unexpected manner, and from an unexpected source. It is true that virtue and religion contribute to temporal prosperity; and it is almost universally true that the inmates of prisons and the recipients of charity and welfare are not the pious. A community could easily provide for all those who are Christians, but who are reduced to poverty by fire, or by flood, or by poor health; and they would most cheerfully do it. Nothing can be truer than this—that if a man wished to do all that could be done to secure prosperity, it would be an advantage to him to be a good and religious man. God never blesses or prospers a sinner as such, though he often does it in spite of the fact that he is a sinner; but he does and will bless and prosper a righteous man because he is righteous—For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).



10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.


The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger

“The young lions may refer to the rich, and the great leaders of the earth; but some suppose the "young lions" to represent the proud and violent, as in Job 4:10. But it is simpler to take the present passage literally. In God's animal creation even the strongest suffer want for a time, and have no remedy for their condition (See Psalm 17:12).The young lion is the emblem of power and self-sufficiency, yet they sometimes lackand suffer from hunger, but the earnest seekers after Divine truth and righteousness never do. The godly by their patient obedience profit more than those who ravage and spoil.


“The young lions do lack,” that is, they often do, as compared with the friends of God. The allusion is especially to the "young" lions who are not able to hunt for food themselves. Perhaps the idea is that they are dependent on the older lions—their parents—to supply their needs, like the pious are dependent on God. The old lions may be unable to procure food for their young, but God is never unable to provide for the wants of His children. If their needs are ever unsupplied, it is for some other reason than because God is unable to provide their necessities. Here, the word "lack" means to be poor; to suffer want; to be needy (Proverbs 14:20Proverbs 18:23). His human creatures need never be in want (or lack), since “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” It is open to them to "seek the Lord" at any time.


But they that seek the Lord

“But they that seek the Lord”—that seek Him as their Friend; that seek His favor; that seek what they need from Him. "To seek God" is a phrase which is often used to denote true piety. It means that we wish to know Him; that we desire His friendship; that we seek all our blessings from Him; that we seek instruction from him, and to be taught by him. The Lord is sought sincerely, diligently, by prayer, and with the whole heart.


Shall not want any good thing

God is able to supply every need; and if anything is withheld, it is always certain that it is not because God could not confer it, but because He sees some good reasons why it should not be conferred. That which is really good; what we need most; what will benefit us themost—will be bestowed on us; and across the world it may be said of all the children of God that everything in this world and the next will be granted, as long as it is really for their good. They themselves are often not the best judges of what will be for their good; but God is an infallible Judge in this matter, and He will certainly bestow what is best for them.


“Not want any good”"good" is emphatic; they may be afflicted, tormented, suffering, and distressed; but this may be a “good thing.” Compare:

  • 2 Co 4:17, 18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
  • Heb 12:10, 11: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”


“Shall not want any good thing,” which is necessary and truly good for them; of which God alone is a competent judge. And therefore, although God usually takes special care to supply the wants of good men (believers), and has often done it by extraordinary means, when ordinary means have failed, yet sometimes he knows, and it is certainly true, that wants and crosses are more needful and useful to them than bread, and in such cases it is a greater mercy of God to deny them bread than to grant their request.His human creatures never need to be in want, since they that seek the Lord “shall not want any good thing.” The way is always open to them to "seek the Lord.”



11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.


Come, ye children

There have been several theories put forward concerning who is meant by “children.” The following is a short summary of those theories that I am aware of.

(1)   David could mean “his own children,” seeing that he thought it was his duty to instruct them, and bring them up in the fear of the Lord. Or,

(2)  He could have meant his subjects, whom he viewed as his children, as every king does; and they thought of him as a father-figure. My dear children; whom I love as my own children, and who acknowledge me as their civil father, your prince (2 Kings 5:13) and as your spiritual father. Or,

(3)  All his hearers, as those who listened to the prophets are called the children or sons of the prophets. Or,

(4)  Young people in general may be intended, who should be taught early their duty to God and men. Though a warrior and a king, the psalmist was not ashamed to teach children. David may have told them of his own experience, and taught them from that experience how they may find happiness and prosperity. Teachers of youth do honorable work, and their reward shall be glorious. Or,

(5)  The children of God in general are meanthere. Or,

(6)  The least among them, called babes and little children, who are little in their own eyes, modest and humble; and who, when they need instruction, are most anxious to receive it.


The word "come" does not, in this case, involve motion, like drawing near to hear better, but rather, readiness to hear, and paying close attention.


The original word which has been rendered "children" means "sons;" but there can be no doubt that the psalmist meant to address the young in general. There is no evidence from what is said here that the psalmist meant his own sons. The instruction seems to have been designed for all young people. I see no reason for supposing that the word is used here in the sense of "disciples, scholars, or learners." No doubt, the word may have such a meaning; but it is much more in accordance with the scope of the psalm to regard the word as used in its usual sense—denoting the young. It is therefore a most interesting statement from an aged and experienced man of God to those who are in the morning of life—suggesting to them the way by which they may make life prosperous and happy.


Hearken unto me

"Hearken unto me,” as unto a father, who gives good doctrine and wholesome advice—My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you. . . then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1, 5)—I will teach you the fear of the Lord." So far as they can be taught by word of mouth, or learned by the hearing of the ear, we are to communicate the faith and fear of God, impressing upon the emerging generation the principles and practices of piety and religion. This verse may be taught by every Sunday School teacher to his class, and by every parent to his children. We should be engaging and pleasing to our youth, imploring them to "come," instead of driving them away with harsh words. We must get them away from toys and sports, and try to occupy their minds with better activities; for we cannot properly teach them while their minds are full of other things. We must always drive the main point home, and keep the fear of the Lord uppermost in our teachings, and while doing so, we may discreetly interject ourselves into the narration by relating our own experiences and convictions.

I will teach you the fear of the Lord

“I will teach you the fear of the Lord”the true and acceptable way of worshipping and serving Him, so that you may please and glorify Him here, and be admitted into His kingdom hereafter. David had often spoken of “the fear of the Lord”; and so many good things are promised to them that have it. The psalmist could not give it, nor can any man give it; man can only teach it, show the nature of it; and explain in what it lies, how it shows itself, and what effects it produces. This is the first lesson to be taught and learned; for it is the beginning of wisdom. It includes all grace, and every duty, and concerns the whole worship of God, and the manner of it.


“The fear of the Lord,” that is, the true and principal way of worshipping and serving God, including both devout reverence which is essential to a right relationship between man to God, and the conduct which it demands. The phrase is characteristic of Proverbs, occurring in that book almost as often as in all the rest of the Old Testament—“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13: Also see Proverbs 9:10;Isaiah 11:2-31 Peter 1:17.).I will teach you the fear of the Lord”—I will show you what constitutes the true fear of the Lord, or what the nature of true religion is. I will teach you how you may fear and serve God, and as a result, enjoy His favor and increase your length of days upon the earth.



12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?


What man is he that desireth life?

“What man is he that desireth life?” That desires to live long. All people naturally love life; and all naturally desire to live long; and this desire, being founded in our nature, is not wrong. Life is, in itself, good—a blessing to be desired; death is in itself evil, and a thing to be dreaded, and there is nothing wrong, in itself, in such a dread. It is equally proper to wish not to be cut down in early life; for where one has before him an eternity for which to prepare, he feels it is undesirable to be cut off in the beginning of his journey. The psalmist, therefore, does not ask this question because he supposes that there were some who did not desire life, or did not wish to live long, but in order to fix the attention of his hearers on the inquiry, and to prepare their minds for the answer which was to follow. By asking this question, he has also indirectly expressed the opinion that it is lawful to desire life, and to wish to live long.


I believe that I can honestly say that every man desires life, even a natural life; it is more desirable than all those things that are part of it; especially a healthy life, without which the blessings and mercies of life cannot be comfortably enjoyed. Most desire a life of prosperity; life, with material comforts and plenty of good things, and even a long one. But it may be that what is meant here is a spiritual life, and a comfortable one; a life free from the regret of a guilty conscience, from the fear of hell, damnation, and wrath; from the bondage of the law, and the dread of death; a life of faith in Christ, and communion with him; and a life of sobriety, righteousness, and holiness; and perhaps it may be best of all to understand it to mean eternal life, which is a glorious life of a very high degree. Compare:

  • Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.”
  • Psalm 30:5: “You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.”


And loveth many days

Mere life, and mere length of days, would not suffice for men, would be no object of desire, unless it were assumed that the days would bring them "good"—in other words, that they would be “happy days”—“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile” (1 Peter 3:10)—but not of this life, for the days of it are evil, and especially when they are lengthened out, and become the days of old age—“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Who can “loveth many days,” unless what is intended are the days of the son of man, the days of enjoying the presence of God in His house and ordinances; but we will love for ever and ever, the good and many days of eternity, in which will be fullness of joy, and never ceasing and never fading pleasures.


That he may see good

“That he may see good”—that he may enjoy prosperity, or find happiness. In other words, who is he that would desire to understand the way by which life may be lengthened out to old age, and by which it may be made happy and prosperous? The psalmist answers this question in the following verses, by stating the results of what he had experienced and observed. There is good to be seen and enjoyed in this life, which if the saints did not believe they would see and enjoy, they would often backslide; and this good lies in participating in the blessings of grace, and in fellowship with Father, Son, and Spirit: but the great and lasting good to be seen and enjoyed is in the world to come, when God shall be all in all, be seen as he is, and the saints shall worship Him in Spirit and in truth, and inherit all things.


There is a great mystery which the psalmist is aware of: seeing that all men naturally desire happiness, he wonders why they cast themselves willingly into misery.


13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.


Keep thy tongue from evil

The tongue is an instrument of great evil, an unruly member, and needs restraint; and the words it utters comes from evil, and not from good. It is to be controlled and kept from speaking evil of God, from cursing and swearing, from speaking evil of men—admonishing and reviling them, from filthy speaking, from all obscene and unclean words, and from all lying ones; for where such evil speaking is given free rein, the fear of God cannot be in that man. The message of the psalmist is “Keep thy tongue from evil”; from all types of evil speaking, from all injurious, degrading, false, and deceitful communications; which, though men commonly use such speech to ease and gratify their own minds, or to cover up their true intentions; and which frequently falls upon their own heads, because they have provoked both God and men against them. 


Sins of the tongue are numerous, and abundantly noted in the Psalms (Psalm 5:9Psalm 10:7Psalm 12:3Psalm 15:3Psalm 50:19Psalm 57:4Psalm 73:8, 9, etc.). They are more difficult to avoid than any others; they cling closer to us; they are hardly ever entirely laid aside. "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2).The meek Moses "spake unadvisedly with his lips" (Psalm 106:33). Job "darkened counsel by words without knowledge "(Job 38:2).St. Peter's words on one occasion brought upon him the rebuke of our Lord, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:23). Compare:

  • Proverbs 13:3: “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
  • Proverbs 21:23: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”
  • Psalm 39:1: “For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked."
  • James 3:2: “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”


If one’s purpose is happiness, the means will be right moral conduct; and, first of all, the tongue must be managed.Always give utterance to truth, and truth alone. The meaning is that this is one of the methods of lengthening one’s life. To love the truth; to speak the truth; to avoid all falsehood, slander, and deceit, will contribute to this, or will be a means which will tend to prolong life, and to make it a happy experience.This, and what follows in this verse and Psalm, point at the things in which the fear of God shows itself; and suggest, that those who have it, and which is recognized by these fruits, shall enjoy the desirable and good days mentionedpreviously.


And thy lips from speaking guile.

“And thy lips from speaking guile”—Deceit. Do not "deceive" others by your words. Do not make any statements which are not true, or any promises which you cannot and will not keep. Do not flatter others; and do not give utterance to slander. Be a man characterized by the love of truth: and let all your words convey truth, and truth only. It cannot be doubted that this, like all other virtues, would tend to lengthen life, and to make it prosperous and peaceful. There is no vice (evil, sin) which does not tend to shorten human life, and there is no virtue which does not tend to lengthen it. But probably the specific idea here is that the way to avoid the hostility of other people, and to secure their appreciation and friendship, is to be truthful with them, and consequently to live in peace with them. It is alsotrue that God will bless a life of virtue and uprightness, and though there is no absolute certainty that anyone, however virtuous he may be, may not be cut off early-on in life, yet it is also true that, other things being equal, a man of truth and integrity will be more likely to live long (since he will be more certain to make the most of life)— that is, than one who is false and corrupt.


In our day, the great shame is that so many, even some Christians speak bad words (cussing, foul words) in common conversation, out of an evil habit and custom; and some speak good words with evil intents; and neither of them has the fear of God before their eyes, nor in their hearts. Sins of thought lead to sins of speech—A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45); avoiding evil and doing good in our dealings with men are based on a right relationship with God.



14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.


Depart from evil

From words the psalmist proceeds to acts, and, in the briefest possible way, says all that can be said. First, he commands negative goodness "depart from evil," that is, don’t do anything that is wrong; break no laws of God, and no command of conscience; have a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards man. “Depart from evil” indicates that evil is nearby; it keeps close to men, and should be rejected and shunned: and it concerns all sorts of evil; evil men with evil ways, and their evil companions; evil things, evil words and works, and all appearance of evil; and the fear of the Lord shows itself in those who have a hatred of it, and have departed from it—“To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13). 

And do good

Secondly, he requires positive goodness—negative goodness is not sufficient. You must "do good;" that is, actively perform the will of God from the heart; discharge not only acts of generosity to all who are down and out, but to benefit every good work; whatever the word of God or the Holy Spirit directs, or suggests should be done; and which should be done from righteous principles of faith and love, and with the right intentions—the glory of God, and the good of His kingdom; and pray that Christ will supply grace and strength to perform every undertaking; all which are evidences of the true fear of God. 

Seek peace, and pursue it

“Seek peace, and pursue it” in the world, and with all men, as much as it can possibly be done; in neighborhoods, cities, and states, and in the churches of Christ, and with the saints, as well as with God through Christ.  Eagerly strive for peace, which in every sense is to be pursued with eagerness, and with diligence—Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18)By all means possible, attempt to live peaceably and quietly with all men, avoiding grudges, arguments, conflicts, fighting, and hatred. 


Peace may be lost for a multitude of reasons, but when it has gone from the scene, make every effort, by prayer, by pleasing words, by condescension, and by the mediation or assistance of others, to recover it, and to settle all differences which may arise between you and others. It should be pointed out that though he said he would teach them the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11), the lessons he taught them (Psalm 34:13, 14), are only those that concern all men. Not that he purposely intended to exclude duties of piety towards God, which he always orders and pressures men everywhere to perform out of a sense of duty and an act of love. David felt he was obligated to teach them what is often taught both in the Old and New Testament, that sincere religion towards God is always accompanied with a conscientious discharge of our duties to men; and to convince the hypocritical Israelites, and particularly his adversaries, that so long as it was their daily habit to speak and act with all manner of evil against him, and other good men, all their pretenses to religion were vain. Do not be discouraged if it should require prolonged effort to overtake peace and recover it—Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor” (Proverbs 21:21).


It is not clear why this virtuous quality is expressly ordered; but probably some circumstances of the time made the recommendation advisable. 



15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.


The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous

“The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,” who are those that fear (reverence) the Lord, and do good. They become righteous in the sight of God, or are justified before him, because of their fear of him, and by their good works; but these are the fruits and effects of grace, which show them to be righteous persons; for it is only by the righteousness of Christ that men are righteous before God: and the Lord has His eyes upon them; not only his eye of Providence, to watch over them, protect them, and supply them with good things, but His eye of love, which looks upon them with satisfaction and delight, because they are clothed with the righteousness of His Son; and it is with pleasure He looks upon them; nor does He ever take His eyes off them—“He withdraws not his eyes from the righteous . . .” (Job 36:7). Under no circumstances does God cease to keep an eye upon the righteous. He watches them with approval and tender concern; they are so dear to Him that He cannot take His eyes off them; He watches each one of them as carefully and intently as if there were the only creature in the universe. This is another of the ways in which the psalmist says that life will be lengthened, or that those who desire life may find it. The Lord will be the protector of the righteous; he will watch over and defend them.


This verse is quoted in 1 Peter 3:12—“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers . . .”—and it had a deep hold on the national mind of Israel. This verse may have been added to show that the practice of these duties (Psalm 34:13-14) is the true and best, and the only way to witness that good which was proposed and promised. The idea here is  that righteous persons, regardless of how they may meet with insults and injuries from men, are under the special care of God indicated in this verse, and those who do the evils forbidden there shall find, to their detriment, that God is their enemy. 


And his ears are open unto their cry.

“His ears are open unto their cry”; for though they are righteous, they are sometimes in distress; their afflictions are many; the good days they are to see lie in the future; and at those times they cry unto the Lord; which is to be understood to mean prayer with intensity and persistence, when they have the ear of God, and He shows himself to be a God hearing and answering prayer. 


The specific statement contained in verse 6 is now generalized. What God had done in the case of the psalmist, He will do in all other similar cases. His eyes will be open to His people's needs, and His ears attentive to their prayers—“Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 6:40). The Lord turns both His eyes and ears towards His saints; His whole mind is occupied with thoughts of them: they may be slighted by all others, but they will never be neglected by Him. He hears their cry immediately, like a mother is sure to hear her sick babe; the cry may be broken, plaintive, unhappy, feeble, unbelieving, yet the Father's quick ear catches each note of lament or appeal, and He is not slow to answer His children's voice.


He will hear them, when they are in trouble and in danger, and will deliver them. All this seems to be expressed as the result of the experience of the psalmist himself; he had found that the eyes of God had been upon him when he was in danger and that His ears had been open when he called upon Him (Psalm 34:6); and now, from his own experience, he assures others that the way to secure life and to find prosperity is to pursue a course that will ensure the favor and protection of God. The general thought is that virtue and religion; the love of truth, and the love of peace; the favor and friendship of God, will tend to lengthen one’s life, and to make it prosperous and happy. All the statements in the Bible concur in this, and all the experience of man goes to confirm it.



16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.


The face of the Lord is against them that do evil

This phrase, “the face of the Lord,” is synonymous with that in the previous verse: "The eyes of the Lord." The meaning is either:

  1. That the righteous and the wicked are alike under the eye of God; the one for protection, the other for punishment. Neither of them can escape His notice; but at all times, and in all circumstances, they are equally seen by Him.
  2. That anger (often called His face, as in Leviticus 17:10; 20:5; Jeremiah 44:11Lamentations 4:16) can be seen in one’s face, because anger reveals itself in the face. 
  3. That “the face” refers to the manifestation of His Presence, eitherin wrath as it does here, or in blessing as in Numbers 6:25—“the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.”


“The face of the Lord is”not against everyone that sins, for the righteous are not without sin, they have sin in them, and they do no good with it; but against them that live in sin, whose way of life is a series of wicked acts, and they are workers of iniquity, have no sense of sin, nor sorrow for it, and go on in it without shame or fear; but the “face of the Lord is against (opposed to) them, hence he shows his resentment, and stirs up his wrath. For the Lord to be against a man is dreadful, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God; there is no man who can stand before Him when He is angry; and to have the face of God against a man is intolerable.


“Them that do evil” means the wicked; all that do wrong. God is against them, and He will bring judgment upon them: there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).


To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth

God turns away his face from the wicked, and punishes them by causing their memory to be utterly destroyed—May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation” (Ps 109:13): and cease to exist among men—”The memory of him perishes from the earth; he has no name in the land” (Job 18:17; Also Psalm 109:13; Proverbs 10:7). The natural desire to be remembered, which causes men to build themselves memorials, and erect other great shrines as tributes to their accomplishments, and delight in children, and seek to improve the prominence of their families, and have their portraits painted, and call parks, estates, libraries, schools, and highways after their own names—“Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves” (Psalm 49:11)—was especially strong in the Hebrew race, and made the threat that their remembrance would be “cut off” peculiarly terrible to them. So, in Proverbs 10:7, it is said, "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot." Two things are implied here:

  1. That it is "desirable" to be remembered after we are dead. There is in us a deep-rooted principle, of great value to the cause of virtue, which prompts us to "desire" that we may be held in grateful recollection by mankind after we have passed away; that is, which prompts us to do something in our lives, the remembrance of which the world will not "willingly let die." - Milton.
  2. The other idea is that there is a condition of things on earth which has a tendency to cause the remembrance of the wicked to die out, or to make people forget them. There is nothing to make men desire to retain remembrance of them, or to create monuments to them. It is true that people remember some bad people (Al Capone, for example); but the world will forget a wicked man just as soon as it can. This is stated here as a reason why young people (Psalm 34:11) should seek God, and pursue the ways of righteousness. The motive is that men will "gladly" retain the remembrance of those who are good; of those who have done anything worthy to be remembered, but that a life of sin will make men desire to forget as soon as possible all those who practice it. This is not a low and sordid motive to be addressed to the young; but a high and honorable principle which makes us wish that our names would be held in the highest regard by those who live after us, and is one of the original principles by which God preserves virtue in the world—one of those arrangements, those safeguards of virtue, by which we are prompted to do right, and to abstain from that which is wrong. The desire not to be forgotten when we are dead contributes a great deal to the industriousness, the enterprise, and the generosity in the world today, and is one of the most effective means for keeping us from sin.



17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.


The righteous cry

One of the advantages or benefits of being righteous (a Christian) is the privilege of prayer; crying unto God, or calling on his name; with the assurance that He will hear and deliver us. No one has ever yet fully appreciated the "privilege" of being permitted to call upon God; the privilege of prayer. There is no blessing conferred upon man in his present state which is superior to this.


They cry, that is, “the righteous cry,” which is obvious both from the nature of the thing (prayer), and from Psalm 34:15, where they are also called “righteous.” "Cry," which by the ordinary rules of grammar should have for its subject the "evil-doers" of the preceding verse, must, and it is obvious from the context, refer to the "righteous" of ver. 15, who are the predominant subject of the entire passage (verses 15-22). This verse would fit the flow of thought better if it came immediately after verse 15, since Psalm 34:15 supplies the natural subject for Psalm 34:17.; therefore, the 16th verse should be thought of as coming in by way of parenthesis, a practice that exists many places in Scripture.


And the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles

There are two types of troubles, inward troubles and outward troubles. Inward troubles are caused through the workings of corruption in their hearts; through the violent assaults of Satan, the blasphemous thoughts he injects into their minds, and his solicitations of them to sin; and through divine desertions. Outward troubles are caused by afflictions of the body; losses of property, fortune, and friends; and the reproaches and persecutions of men. Sooner or later, the Lord, delivers His people, who cry unto Him, out of all these troubles.


The promise is not that they shall be delivered from all trouble on earth, but the idea is that God is able to rescue them from trouble here; that He often does it in answer to prayer; and that there will be, in the case of every righteous person, a sure and complete deliverance from all trouble, when they enter the heavenly realm.


What a horrible world this would be—how sad, how helpless, how wretched—if there were no God to whom the guilty, the suffering, and the troubled might come; if God were a Being who never heard prayer at all; if he were an unreliable Being who might or might not hear prayer; if He were a Being governed by erratic emotions, and who would now hear the righteous, and then the wicked, and then neither.



18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.


The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart

The Lord is ready to hear and help them “that are of a broken heart”; though He may sometimes seem to be far away from them. God is near to all men; as an Omnipresent Being, God is equally near to all persons at all times; but He is near to the brokenhearted in a unique way, since He is always ready and able to help them: it is a condition we often see in men—that they are much more capable of assisting the brokenhearted, when they are present with them than when they are absent from them.The language is, of course, figurative; but the language is adapted to our way of thinking, since we feel that one who is near us can help us, and that one who is far away from us cannot help us—“Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help” (Psalm 22:11).


The phrase, "them that are of a broken heart," occurs often in the Bible. It refers to a condition when a burden "seems" to be on the heart, and when the heart "seems" to be crushed by sin or sorrow; and it is calculated to describe a consciousness of deep guilt, or the heaviest kind of affliction and trouble—“For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15—also see Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 66:2). When they seem to be swallowed up with afflictions, then God is at hand to deliver them.


And saveth such as be of a contrite spirit

The word “saveth” is not used here in a legal sense, but in an evangelical way; that is, the method God has chosen to save sinners—expressing faith in Jesus Christ.


“Such as be of a contrite spirit” refers to either:

(1)   Those whose spirits are crushed, and even broken by the enormity of their calamities, and by the sorrow and suffering they create. But this may be, and frequently is, the lot of wicked men. And therefore in this sense, and to such persons, this promise of salvation does not apply.

(2)  Those whose hearts or spirits are truly and deeply humbled under the hand of God, and the sense of their own sins, and God’s displeasure because of their sins, which was David’s case—“O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, neither chasten me in your hot displeasure” (Psalm 6:1—also see Psalm 32:3, 4). David’s heart was once proud and self-willed; and yet, it was subdued and made obedient to God’s will, and submissive to His providence; it is to all such men, and to them only, that this promise is made—He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3—also see Isaiah 61:1Jeremiah 23:9). It is implied here that suffering under the hand of God has borne fruit, and all self-asserting pride has been subdued and replaced by true contrition and humility.

(3)  Those who are humbled under a sense of sin, and melted down in true repentance, under an awareness of the love and grace of God; and are pitiful and wretched in their own eyes: to these the Lord has respect; the sacrifices of a broken and contrite spirit are not look down on or reviled by Him, but accepted through faith in Christ; and He saves such men with an everlasting salvation.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.


Many are the afflictions of the righteous

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous”; or rather, those made righteous by having received the righteousness of Christ. This is not intended to affirm that the afflictions of the righteous are more numerous or more severe than the afflictions of other men, but that they are subjected to much suffering, and too many trials. Job is certainly a man who experienced suffering: “But if men are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, he tells them what they have done—that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil” (Job 36:8-10—also see Acts 14:22; 1 Corinthians 15:19; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:33-38; Hebrews 12:5-10). The righteous suffer afflictions because they are so imperfectly righteous. They need purging, purifying, and chastening, to rid them of the garbage and defilement of sin which still clings to them, and from which they are never entirely free while they continue in the flesh. Compare:

  • Acts 14:22: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
  • Hebrews 2:10: “We must, like the Captain of our salvation, be ‘made perfect through suffering.’"


“Many are the afflictions of the righteous”may refer:

(1)   To some particular righteous person.

(2)  To the Lord Jesus Christ, who is eminently and emphatically "the righteous"; He is righteous both as God and man, and as Mediator; and His afflictions were many; afflictions which He endured from men, from devils, and from God himself. Many were the afflictions of His body, which He received when buffeted, scourged, and crucified; and many were the afflictions of His soul, when He shouldered and bore the sins of His people, endured the wrath of God for them, and was forsaken by Him; though none of these afflictions were for any sins of His own, but for the sins of others; and the Lord delivered Him out of them all, at last, and set Him at His own right hand.

(3)  To every one of the righteous; who, though they are free of the penalty of sin and from the wrath of God, yet have many afflictions; which are "evils" in themselves, and are very troublesome and distressing, and great and grievous; though no more so than the will of God has determined, and not one too many.


In the world they may have tribulation, and their afflictions and troubles may be many, but they must not promise themselves that God will exempt them from the trial of their faith and patience.


But the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Religion teaches them to consider their trials as preparation for the life to come. Religion does not, however, exempt anyone from suffering, but it sustains them so they can get through it; it does not deliver them from all trials in this life, but it supports them, and enables them to pass through their trials. There are sorrows which are unique to the righteous, or which come upon them simply because they are followers of Christ, such as the trials of persecution; but there are also sorrows that are unique to the wicked, such as the effects of dishonesty, crime, alcohol and drugs. The latter are more numerous by a long way than the former; therefore, it is still true that the wicked suffer more than the righteous in this life.


One difference between Christians and non-Christians is that God delivers all Christians out of their trials; as Christ was, and all His people will be; if not in this life, by giving reprieves and temporary pauses, as he sometimes does; or in the next life, when the righteous go to eternally be with Him, and are completely delivered out of all their trials and struggles, so that they never return again. FromPsalm 34:21, we get the impression that righteous persons commit many sins; for there are none without sin; yet they shall not perish because of them, but they shall be delivered from them; from the dominion of them by the power of grace, and from the guilt of them by the blood of Christ, and from condemnation for them through His righteousness.



20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.



“He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken” is literally true of Christ, in whom the type of the Passover lamb had its accomplishment, since God told the Israelites that none of its bones were to be broken (See Exodus 12:46). This verse seems to point to Christ more than it does to anyone else, since the bones of many of them have been broken by one accident or another; and many of the martyrs of Jesus have had all their bones broken upon the rack or wheel; therefore, it seems best to ascribe this verse to Christ; and it looks as if it was written in view of its fulfillment in John 19:36“For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” There are some who interpret this verse as referring to the righteous in general; but if true, it must be with a limitation—that their bones are all cared for by the Lord, and not one is broken without His knowledge and will; and that they are not broken permanently, but will be perfectly restored in the resurrection, and will continue undamaged throughout all eternity. This verse, without giving the particulars, may in general relate to the care of Providence over the righteous—Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care” (Matthew 10:29). Moreover, there is, perhaps, a direct and immediate allusion here to what the psalmist himself had experienced. When he was in danger, God had protected him, so that he had escaped without a broken bone. On the other hand, no one should think that the fact that a man has a broken bone proves that he is not righteous.


The term "bones" is used here to represent the entire skeletal system, or body of a man (compare Psalm 6:2Psalm 31:10Psalm 32:3Psalm 38:3Psalm 42:10Psalm 102:3). God "keepeth," that is, watches over, and keeps from harm, the entire person of the righteous, letting no harm touch them, except that which He permits and knows to be needful. Though breaking the bones is a metaphor for the torture of pain that racks the body (Psalm 51:8Isaiah 38:13), or for cruel oppression (Micah 3:3), similarly keeping them denotes the safe preservation of the man’s whole being.



21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.


Evil shall slay the wicked

His ruin is not arbitrary, random, or a matter of chance, or the mere result of divine choice; it is caused by sin, and is the regular and natural consequence of being guilty of committing sinful acts. In the destruction of the sinner, there will not be any one thing which cannot be explained by the supposition that it is the regular effect of sin, or what sin issuited to produce in its own nature.


“Evil shall slay the wicked”; meaning either the evil of their own wicked conduct, which they meant to use against the righteous, shall return and fall upon their heads, and cause their own ruin; or the evil of affliction, which to them is the evil of punishment, both here and in the place of eternal suffering, from which they will have no deliverance; though the righteous will be delivered from their afflictions, which are not punishments at all, but chastisements for sin, and last only for a short time; or else the evil of sin, which is the cause of physical and eternal death. Evil shall bring destruction upon the wicked man—destruction of the body in many cases (Psalm 7:15, 16), and, if he persists in his wickedness, destruction of the soul. 


While the righteous is rescued out of all evils (Psalm 34:19), evil brings the wicked to his death. His evil ways work out their own punishment, and divine retribution overtakes him—“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:21, 23).


And they that hate the righteous shall be desolate

“And they that hate the righteous” is another designation for the wicked, or a term designating one aspect of the character of the wicked. It is true of all the wicked that they must hate the righteous in their hearts, or that they are so opposed to the character of the righteous that it is proper to describe this feeling as "hatred." Their hatred is on display when they persecute the righteous and plot their ruin, which is evidence they hate them, regardless of how they may pretend to the contrary.


“Shall be desolate” or "shall be guilty,” or "shall be condemned” or "damned." All wicked men hate the righteous, both Jesus Christ the righteous, and His people; and because they are wicked, they will be arraigned on the day of judgment, and will be convicted for all their cruel speeches which they have spoken against Christ and His Christians; and will be pronounced guilty, and will be punished with everlasting destruction—Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you” (Psalm 5:10).



22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.


The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants

They are His servants, made so by His grace, and are willing to serve Him, and to serve Him promptly, willingly, and cheerfully with their minds, and with their souls, which is the more honorable part of them, and is of more value than the world. The redemption of every soul is precious, and required a great price and a great sacrifice; it is not that their bodies are neglected, and not redeemed; but the soul is mentioned, since it is the most important part of man; and this redemption is by the Lord, who is the only One able to bring it about, since He purchased it with his precious blood. Here “redeemeth” seems to signify the effects of the application of redemption; that is, the forgiveness of sin, justification, and sanctification, since it regards something that is continually going on.


The Lord also redeems their lives, or their persons, from the malicious plans of all their enemies, from the power of the grave, and from the sting of every affliction. He keeps them from sinning in their troubles, which is the only thing that could do them a real injury, and keep them from misery, and from losing possession of their own souls. 


There is still another meaning given to the phrase, “The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants”—the literal meaning being that the Lord rescues the lives of His servants, or that He saves them from death. The word "redeem" in its primary sense means to let go or loose; to "buy" loose, or to ransom; and thus, to redeem with a price, or to rescue in any way. Here the idea is not that of delivering or rescuing by a "price," or by an offering, but of rescuing from danger and death by the application of the power and providence of God. The word "soul" is used here to denote the entire man, and the idea is that God will "rescue" or "save" those who serve and obey Him. They will be kept from destruction. They will not be regarded as guilty, and will not be treated as if they were wicked. As the word "redeem," as it is used here by David means God will save His people; without specifying the "means" by which it will be done. The word "redeem," as it is used by Christians today, employs the ideas of the New Testament on the subject, and it means that God will redeem His people by that great sacrifice which was made for them on the cross.


And none of them that trust in him shall be desolate

“None that trust in him shall be desolate,” or "be guilty,” or "condemned"; because they are forgiven all the sins they have been guilty of, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; and having believed in Him, they shall not be damned, according to Mark 16:16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”and they shall be far from being desolate, and alone, and miserable; they shall stand at Christ's right hand, be received into His kingdom and glory, and be forever with Him. And no man is desolate, except he whom God has forsaken, nor is any man “done for” until he is in hell. Now, they that truly repent, have saving faith, and trust in the Lord, are both rescued from guilt and the punishment to which sin had exposed them, because those whom God has redeemed he justifies, and saves from all condemnation. They are "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).