Psalm 34:2
My soul will boast in the LORD; let the oppressed hear and rejoice.
On Glorying in God AloneR. Lucas, D. D.Psalm 34:2
Rightful BoastingW. Jay.Psalm 34:2
Deliverance and GratitudeC. Short Psalm 34:1-10
Links of GraceW. Forsyth Psalm 34:1-10
A Devout HymnHomilistPsalm 34:1-22
Blessing the LordJ. Bate.Psalm 34:1-22
Life's Experiences Turned to Manifold UsesC. Clemance Psalm 34:1-22

There is no sufficient reason for severing this psalm from the detail of history to which its title refers; and it is much to be wished that its writer had uniformly turned his own experience to a use as wise as that which he here urges upon others. But David's pen might be golden, though sometimes his spirit was leaden; and we may study with great advantage the ideal of life which he sets before us, learning from his experience how we may realize that ideal, even though, in such a dimly lighted and corrupt age as his, he fell beneath it. We, who have far more than David's privileges, ought to rise to a level far beyond that to which he attained. Let us first note the experience here recorded, and then see how varied are the uses to be made thereof.

I. HERE IS A TOUCHING RECORD OF LIFE'S EXPERIENCE. In many respects it is such a one as thousands on thousands of God's people may have passed through, and may be passing through now. If we number the points of experience one by one, the preacher may expand such as may be most appropriate to any ease or cases with which he may be dealing. Here is:

1. A first line of experience - man wanting help from God.

(1) Trouble. (Ver. 6.) A general term, yet conveying often the idea of strait-ness, narrowness, and perplexity. This may arise from bodily weakness, domestic trouble, personal bereavement, or any other of those manifold causes of anxiety to which we are liable.

(2) Fear. (Ver. 4.) The dread of the future is often a heavier care than the distress of the present. How often would it be a great relief if we could see the forthcoming issue of things! But this cannot be. Hence fears arise, and we are tempted to say, "I shall one day perish."

(3) Looking up. (Ver. 5.) We may, we can, look up above our weakness and helplessness to One who is a "Stronghold in the day of trouble" (Psalm 61:2; Psalm 121:1). Note: It is a part of the high and holy education of the saints that trouble teaches them to look up; and thus their whole natures become elevated, as they feel and know that they belong to a higher world than this.

(4) Crying. (Ver. 6; see Psalm 18:6.) In our darkest hours we know to whom we speak (Psalm 62:1). However dark the night and lonely the path, the child cannot help crying, "Father!" even when he cannot see him.

(5) Seeking. (Ver. 4.) This is a prolongation of the cry. It indicates the attitude of the soul, continuously directed towards the great Friend and Helper.

(6) All this is in common with others. (Ver. 5.) "They looked," etc. Not one alone, but millions, are at each moment looking up trustingly and hopefully, away from life's cares and sorrows, to him who ruleth over all. Hence we need not wonder at:

2. A second line of experience - God granting the help that is implored. As there are six stages along the first, so are there six features of the second.

(1) The prayer is heard. (Vers. 4, 6.) Here is a grand field for exploration - the Divine answers to prayer. To enumerate these would require volumes. The saint may well store them up in his memory for the encouragement of troubled ones afterwards. If we did but "give others the sunshine," and "tell Jesus the rest," how rich would be the tokens of mercy with which we should rise from our knees!

(2) Angelic ministry is granted. (Ver. 7.) The existence and ministry of angels are clearly revealed in the Word of God. Abraham; Jacob; Elijah; Daniel (Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 68:17). The phrase, "delivereth them" is equivalent to "sets them free."

(3) Supplies are sent. (Vers. 9, 10.) It is one of the testimonies most frequently given to those who visit God's people in trouble, that supplies are sent to them exactly as they require them (Psalm 37:25).

(4) Deliverance is sent down. (Vers. 4, 7.) God, in trouble, makes and shows "a way of escape." The dart has been turned aside just as it has seemed to be on the point of striking.

(5) The face has been brightened. (Ver. 5.) The anxious look departs when help comes; a lightened heart makes a brightened face.

(6) Consequently, it is proved that those who wait on God will not be put to shame. (Ver. 5, Revised Version.) No! it cannot be. The covenant of God's promise is "ordered in all things, and sure." Not from one alone, but from a great multitude which no man can number, will the testimony come. "Not one thing hath failed of all that the Lord hath spoken." "Thus saith the Lord, They shall not be ashamed that wait for me."


1. Towards God. (Vers. 1, 2.) The psalmist vows that, having such manifold proof of what God is to him, and of his faithfulness to all his promises, his life shall be a perpetual song of praise; that he will make his boast in God's goodness and grace, so that those who have, like him, been in the depths of affliction, may also, like him, be brought forth into a wealthy place. Note: Deliverances brought about in answer to prayer should be followed by long-continued and grateful praise.

2. Towards the saints. The psalmist

(1) exhorts the saints to join him in thankful song (ver. 3).

(2) He bids them try for themselves how good the Lord is (ver. 8), and he would have them know the blessedness of those who trust in him (ver. 8).

(3) He bids them loyally obey their God: this is what is meant by the word "fear" in ver. 9: not a fear of dread or of servility, but of loyal and obedient reverence. Note: However severe the pressure or great the trouble, we never need depart from the strict line of obedience to God.

(4) He assures them that no loyal souls shall ever be deserted (vers. 9, 10). God will see to it that his faithful ones have all needful supplies.

3. Towards all who have life before them. (Vers. 11, 12.)

(1) He invites the young to come and listen to him, as out of the depths of his own experience he would show them the value of a godly life.

(2) He propounds a question, which may well evoke a response in many a young aspiring heart (ver. 12). See the use to which the Apostle Peter puts this passage (1 Peter 3:10-16).

(3) He gives a clear and definite answer, directing them how to govern the lips and the feet. The lips are to shun guile, and to speak peace and truth. The feet are to avoid evil, and to press after righteousness.

(4) He lays down for them a number of axiomata, which may well be their guide through life.

(a) That the Lord does hear and answer prayer (vers. 15,17-20). The experience of the faithful gives an overwhelming amount of proof of this.

(b) That in pressing on in life, they will find God's judgments abroad in the earth, making a distinction between those who serve him and those who serve him not; rewarding one and condemning the other (ver. 21, Revised Version).

(c) That Divine deliverances will compass the righteous around (ver. 22, Revised Version). Loyal souls will ever be receiving new proofs of the goodness of the Lord, and of the blessedness of such as put their trust in him! "The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion!" Note:

1. Amid all the changeful currents of human thought and sentiment, there are ever, ever, in all ages, climes, and lands, these two great lines of indisputable fact (vers. 15, 16), to which we do well to take heed - that the Lord is on the side of good, and that "the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." No perplexity in the mazes of metaphysical or theological controversy ought ever to conceal or obscure These plain facts from view.

2. It behoves the young to profit by the experience of the old; for, though no two experiences are precisely the same in all details, and though each one must bear his own burden, yet the lives of our fathers, as rehearsed to us by them, do set forth clearly and distinctly certain great principles according to which God governed and guided them - principles which are the same in every age, and which we cannot ignore, save at imminent peril both for the life that now is, and for that which is to come.

3. It behoves us to treasure up the experiences of life, to recount and to record them for the use and help of those who have yet to set out on life's journey. We know not how our young ones may be exposed in life. Gladly would we give them the constant screen of home. But that cannot be. Out into the world they must go. With God's Spirit in their hearts, they are safe anywhere. Without God, they are safe nowhere. We need not talk at them nor try to preach religion obnoxiously to them; but we may, we can, we must, tell them of our God and Saviour, telling them how he has helped us, and will help all who follow him; that they, too, may "taste and see how good the Lord is"! - C.

My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.
We all are prone to boast, and often on very slender grounds. The worst are they who boast of their own goodness. We are to glory only in the Lord. Now such rightful boasting includes the elevation of joyous feeling, and the breaking forth of gratitude and praise. And the humble shall hear thereof. Others would tell them, or, if not, the psalmist himself would. Spiritual sadness seeks seclusion, but not so spiritual freedom and joy. Like the return of health and of day, it says to the prisoners, "Go forth"; to them that are in darkness, "Show yourselves." And the effect of this knowledge would be to make them glad. The Lord's followers are supposed to be mopish and melancholy; but they have a thousand sources of joy which others know not of.

(W. Jay.)

What can better become us, who are the creatures of God, than to bless Him, and depend on Him? What can better become us, as Christians, than to be always praising add magnifying that God, to whose grace we owe our salvation and happiness?

I. THE EXAMPLES OF EXCELLENT PERSONS (Jeremiah 9:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31). St. Paul himself was an eminent example of his own doctrine; for when, to vindicate himself, he found himself obliged to recount what he had done and suffered in the cause of Christianity, together with his endowments, graces and privileges, he begs pardon for it, calls it the foolishness of boasting, and as nothing less could excuse it, he pleads necessity for it (2 Corinthians 11:20). But this apostle, who was thus shy of glorying in his excellencies and advantages, lest he should seem too tender of his own honour, how forward he is to record his infirmities, that he might advance God's (2 Corinthians 12:9). We cannot be Christians unless God be all in all to us; unless we look upon Him as the source and spring of all good, the object of our joy and glory, and the ultimate end of our desires and hopes.

II. WE HAVE RECEIVED ALL FROM HIM. Whether natural endowments, or worldly possessions, all that we are born to, and all that we acquire, judgment, courage, wit, eloquence, wealth, power, favour, and the like, we certainly owe to God. And if we derive all from God, acknowledgment and praise is the least sacrifice we can make Him.

III. We depend so entirely upon God, that WE CAN REAP LITTLE BENEFIT, NAY, WE MAY SUFFER MUCH PREJUDICE BY THE MOST EXCELLENT ENDOWMENTS AND POSSESSIONS, UNLESS THEY BE SANCTIFIED BY HIS GRACE, AND BEFRIENDED BY HIS PROVIDENCE (Ecclesiastes 9:11). How naturally do riches breed luxury! power tyranny! honour insolence! favour and applause vanity!

IV. To BOAST IN ANYTHING BUT GOD IS A SYMPTOM OF EXTREME PROFANENESS AND IRRELIGION; for whence can this proceed, but from an understanding darkened by ignorance or infidelity, or from a heart alienated from God, and possessed by some vile idol?

V. The heathen thought that there was an envious daemon, whose peculiar province it was to cast down the vainglorious and insolent; but we Christians are taught that TO HUMBLE "THE PROUD IS A WORK THAT GOD DELIGHTS IN (Isaiah 2:12; James 4:6). And why does God take pleasure in this? To assert His sovereignty and dominion, to imprint an awe of His power upon the minds of mankind, and to extort from the proudest and vainest of mortals a confession of their meanness and His majesty.


1. If we have grateful hearts towards God, we shall let slip no occasion which invites us to praise and honour Him. Not only those things that are new and surprising, that are unusual or extraordinary, but also the common and ordinary works of God, and His constant and daily benefits, will affect our hearts with a devout and thankful remembrance of Him.

2. If we truly glory in the Lord, and in nothing else, our admiration and reverence, our love and gratitude will discover themselves, not only in our words, but in our actions. The principle which causes us to be humble and thankful towards God, will keep us from being disrespectful and insolent towards man; and, in general, we shall think it our duty, not only to glorify God by praise and thanksgiving, but also and especially by a right use and employment of His benefits and mercies.

3. The practice of this duty does by degrees advance us to a settled state of pleasure. What can be more delightful than the exercise of love, when the object of it is most perfect? (Psalm 63:4, 5, 6).

(R. Lucas, D. D.)

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