Psalm 34 Mad, Mad Faith

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Questions: Is it crazy to trust God at all times? Can we trust him to deliver us from all our fears? Or do we need to take matters into our own hands?

“Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love
Draw me into your holy Presence, that I might know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ in this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 34:1-22

[[[A Psalm] of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.]]

The story of David before Achish is perhaps the most humiliating period of his life. On the run from Saul, he winds up in the house of his enemies. Ironically, they’re so afraid of him that he becomes afraid of them, and acts like a madman (presumably to mitigate their fear).

I wonder if this is David’s way of processing the episode, and reminding himself of the truth’s he had temporarily forgotten.

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

An interesting contrast to fearing kings (and having drool fall from his mouth)!

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

I wonder if this where David thinks he went wrong; he was in a sense taunted by his own boasts, and feared his inability to live up to them. Whereas if he had been boasting in the Lord all the time, he needn’t have feared.

This is especially true if David had initially gone to Achish as an act of faith in God. Certainly, I’ve started doing a risky thing as an act of faith, but then something happened to scare me off. The solution, it appears it to focus more on God and less on ourselves:

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

which is the only sure antidote to fear:

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

and not just for him:

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

Interestingly, David now speaks of God’s deliverance in the past tense:

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard [him], and saved him out of all his troubles.The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them

I suppose it is possible that David sees God’s deliverance in his “insane” escape from Achish, but I don’t buy that. I think he’s hearkening back to earlier deliverances as proof of God’s trustworthiness:

O taste and see that the LORD [is] good: blessed [is] the man [that] trusteth in him

and a reminder to fear only Him:

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

as the only sure safety:

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

Intriguingly, he now launches into a little lesson:

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man [is he that] desireth life, [and] loveth [many] days, that he may see good?

This reminds me that David is as much teacher as poet (or are they the same thing?). He’s not just journaling his emotions, he wants to show people the Way. And what is that way?

Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it

Why?

The eyes of the LORD [are] upon the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their cry. The face of the LORD [is] against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth

This is not the remote deistic God concerned only with cold physical laws, but a God deeply concerned with both righteousness and His people.

[The righteous] cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many [are] the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

I suspect David is primarily preaching to himself. It is easy to sit in a comfortable armchair with your feet up and tut-tut about how we really ought to trust God. But what if you’re face to face with your enemy?

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

I wonder if David is, by his praise, seeking to redeem that shameful period of his life. He doesn’t want us to draw the wrong lesson, that shaming ourself is a valid way out of dangerous situations. But rather than denying it happened, or wallowing in guilt, David turns his (and our) focus towards God.

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

Powerful words, from one who has earned the right — through both success and failure — to say them.

Prayer

God, I confess that I often — perhaps usually — react with and to fear when faced with a situation I cannot control. Forgive me, O my father. I want to praise you at all times, with my mouth and my whole body. I long to trust in you, and experience your deliverance, rather than changing my behavior when threatened. Teach me, train me in the school of praise. Fill my vision with the wonder of you, and your salvation. That I may stand before kings — and my enemies — without shame. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is homage to the oddly-named comedy.

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