Psalm 34:12
What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?
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(12) Desireth life.—Better, the man delighting in life. These gnomic sayings are echoes from the book of Proverbs. (See especially Proverbs 4:23.)

Psalm 34:12. What man is he that desireth life — A long and happy life, begun in this world and continued for ever in the next: namely, who is he that seriously and in good earnest desires it, so as to be willing to use any endeavours which shall be prescribed to him? for otherwise the question would be needless, there being no man but desires it, at least, coldly and faintly. And loveth many days — Hebrew, loveth days to see, that is, in which he may see, or enjoy, good, namely, prosperity and happiness.34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.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, a good - a blessing to be desired; death is in itself an evil, and a thing to be dreaded, and there is nothing wrong, in itself, in such a dread. Equally proper is it 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 undesirable that he should be cut off in the beginning of his way. The psalmist, therefore, does not put this question because he supposes that there were any who did not desire life, or did not wish to see many days, but in order to fix the attention on the inquiry, and to prepare the mind for the answer which was to follow. By thus putting the question, also, he has implicitly expressed the opinion that it is lawful to desire life, and to wish to see many days.

And loveth many days - literally, "loving days." That is, who so loves days, considered as a part of life, that he wishes they may be prolonged and multiplied.

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 proposes to answer this question - as he does in the following verses, by stating the results of what he had experienced and observed.

12. What man—Whoever desires the blessings of piety, let him attend. Desireth, to wit, seriously and in good earnest, so as to be willing to use any endeavours which shall be prescribed to him: for otherwise the question were needless; for there is no man but desires it, at least coldly and faintly.

Life; a long and happy life, begun in this world, and continued for ever in the next. And thus life is oft used, as Psalm 16:11 30:5.

Loveth many days, that he may see good, Heb. loveth days to see (i.e. in which he may see, i.e. enjoy) good, to wit, prosperity or happiness. What man is he that desireth life?.... Every man desires life, even a natural life; it is more desirable than all things in it; especially an healthful life, without which the blessings and mercies of life cannot be comfortably enjoyed; and still more a life of prosperity; life, with an affluence of good things, and even a long one: though it may be rather that a spiritual life is here meant, and a comfortable one; a life free from the remorses 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 on Christ, and communion with him; and a life of sobriety, righteousness, and holiness; and perhaps it may be best of all to understand it of eternal life, which is life eminently and emphatically; it follows,

and loveth many days; that is, good ones; as they are interpreted in 1 Peter 3:10; not of this life, for the days of it are evil, and especially when they are lengthened out; the days of old age, Ecclesiastes 12:1; unless the days of the son of man, the days of enjoying the presence of God in his house and ordinances, should be intended; though rather the good and many days of eternity, even length of days, for ever and ever, in which will be fulness of joy, and never ceasing and never fading pleasures;

that he may see good; there is good to be seen and enjoyed in this life, which if the saints did not believe they should see and enjoy, they would often faint; and this good lies in the participation of 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 inherit all things.

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

(i) Seeing all men naturally desire happiness, he wonders why they cast themselves willingly into misery.

12. The challenge with its answer in Psalm 34:13-14 is a vivid and forcible equivalent for Whosoever desires … let him &c. Cp. Psalm 25:12.

life] Not mere existence, but life worthy of the name (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 30:5); again a word characteristic of Proverbs, and connected there too with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 19:23; Proverbs 22:4).

and loveth] Lit., loving days for seeing good, explaining and emphasising the preceding line. Cp. Psalm 34:10; Psalm 4:6. Days = length of days (Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 10:27).Verse 12. - What man is he that desireth life? Like most moralists, David begins with asking men - Do they wish for happiness? If so, and he assumes that it is so (comp. Arist., 'Eth. Nic.,' I. 1. - 7.), then he will point them out the way to it. And loveth many days, that he may see good? Mere life, 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. (Heb.: 34:5-7) The poet now gives the reason for this praise by setting forth the deliverance he has experienced. He longed for God and took pains to find Him (such is the meaning of דּרשׁ in distinction from בּקּשׁ), and this striving, which took the form of prayer, did not remain without some actual answer (ענה is used of the being heard and the fulfilment as an answer to the petition of the praying one). The perfects, as also in Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:7, describe facts, one of which did not take place without the other; whereas ויּענני would give them the relation of antecedent and consequent. In Psalm 34:6, his own personal experience is generalised into an experimental truth, expressed in the historical form: they look unto Him and brighten up, i.e., whosoever looketh unto Him (הבּיט אל of a look of intense yearning, eager for salvation, as in Numbers 21:9; Zechariah 12:10) brightens up. It is impracticable to make the ענוים from Psalm 34:3 the subject; it is an act and the experience that immediately accompanies it, that is expressed with an universal subject and in gnomical perfects. The verb נהר, here as in Isaiah 60:5, has the signification to shine, glitter (whence נהרה, light). Theodoret renders it: Ὁ μετὰ πίστεως τῷ θεῷ προσιὼν φωτὸς ἀκτῖνας δέχεται νοεροῦ, the gracious countenance of God is reflected on their faces; to the actus directus of fides supplex succeeds the actus reflexus of fides triumphans. It never comes to pass that their countenances must be covered with shame on account of disappointed hope: this shall not and cannot be, as the sympathetic force of אל implies. In all the three dialects חפר (חפר) has the signification of being ashamed and sacred; according to Gesenius and F׬rst (root פר) it proceeds from the primary signification of reddening, blushing; in reality, however, since it is to be combined, not with Arab. hmr, but with chmr (cf. Arab. kfr, כפר, Arab. gfr, gmr), it proceeds from the primary signification of covering, hiding, veiling (Arabic chafira, tachaffara, used of a woman, cf. chamara, to be ashamed, to blush, to be modest, used of both sexes), so that consequently the shame-covered countenance is contrasted with that which has a bright, bold, and free look. In Psalm 34:7, this general truth is again individualised. By זה עני (like זה סיני in Psalm 68:9) David points to himself. From the great peril in which he was placed at the court of the Philistines, from which God has rescued him, he turns his thoughts with gratitude and praise to all the deliverances which lie in the past.
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