Psalm 34:3
Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.
Sermons
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
A Testimony MeetingJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Psalm 34:3-7
A Thanksgiving SermonB. Jenks.Psalm 34:3-7


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."

II. THESE VARIED EXPERIENCES OF LIFE ARE HERE TURNED TO MANIFOLD USES.

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.









O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
"God's praises sound best in concert." The praise that lifts its voice in solitude is beautiful, but it is far more beautiful when heard in communion with the praise of one's fellows. Each instrument in the orchestra is enriched by the co-operation of the others. Each member in a chorus has his discernment sharpened, and his zeal intensified by the remaining members. So in the orchestra of praise. My own thanksgiving is quickened and enriched when I join it to the praises of others. The text appears to suggest that a number of thankful souls gathered together, and, each contributing his own testimony of the exceeding graciousness of God, they joined in an outburst of united and jubilant praise. Here is one of the testimonies: "I sought the Lord," etc. And here is the gladsome confession of quite a numerous company. "They looked unto Him and were lightened," etc. And here, again, is the witness of an inspired and grateful soul: "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him," etc.

1. He was burdened with "fears." What did he make his resource? "I sought the Lord." The seeking was a real business. Into the inquisition he put his whole soul. And what was the issue of the search? "He heard me." The term implies heeding and responding. Man's "seeking" was responded to by a sympathetic movement on the part of God. "And delivered me," etc. That is a full-coloured word, abounding in strength and vitality. It suggests the act of rescuing something out of a beast's mouth. It is from spiritual havoc of this kind that our Lord delivers us. The rescue is not partial. The relief is by no means incomplete. The freedom is absolute. "He delivered me from all my fears." "God sweeps the field, slays the enemies, and even buries their bones."

2. Let us listen to the second of these grateful testimonies. "They looked unto Him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed." The gracious answer of God brought a benediction of light. They "were lightened." Then before they must have been darkened. They were cheerless and depressed. They were "losing heart." "Thy looked unto Him." They gazed intently upon God. No snatch look, no hurried glances, no passing nod of recognition. A fixed and eager gaze. And what was the outcome of their gaze? They "were lightened." They were brightened up, lit up, made cheerful. "Now are ye light in the Lord." Depression gave way to buoyancy. Melancholy yielded to cheerfulness.

3. Let us now turn to the third of these witnesses, and hear his thankful confession. "This poor man cried," etc. What had been this man's peculiar burden? "Troubles." He had been in a "tight corner," a "tight place." In his straits he "cried unto the Lord." It was a short, sharp, urgent prayer. "Fervour is a heavenly ingredient in prayer; an arrow drawn with full strength hath a speedier issue; therefore the prayers of saints are expressed by crying in Scripture." Again we have the confession made by an earlier witness. "The Lord heard him," paid heed to him, and began the ministry of gracious response. "He saved him out of all his troubles." He opened a way out of the tight place. He led him out of straits into freedom. He gave him a sense of space. "Thou hast brought my feet into a large place."

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO MAGNIFY THE LORD, AND EXALT HIS NAME. Let us not mistake in arrogating to ourselves that which is quite out of our reach, as if we, diminutive bits of God's creation, could enrich the exchequer of heaven. No, 'tis not at all in Himself, but only in our own minds, and others' esteem, that we are capable of greatening and advancing the most glorious and ever-blessed God. When we conceive in ourselves any worthy sentiments, becoming the Divine majesty and goodness; are filled with an admiring sense of His transcendent excellencies, and a grateful sense of His loving-kindness" and endeavour, all we can, to propagate the same magnificent and fair idea to others: this is the utmost whereof we are capable, to glorify God in such aggrandizing representations, as show Him somewhat like Himself. And thus we do magnify the God infinitely good, when we stand in admiration of such benignity, that we should have any comfort with our lives, when we have done so much to spoil all with our sins! Yea, that not a minute should pass but brings us a new favour from above; and gives us more assurance still that He desires our felicity, and cannot design our ruin. Thinking thus well of God, we do magnify the Lord, and exalt His name.

II. THE PROPERTIES OF THIS EUCHARISTICAL SACRIFICE, AND HOW WE ARE TO OFFER IT.

1. It must be with the soul, from the altar of a sensible heart. To glory in Him is one way of giving glory to Him.

2. Though it must not be only a lip-service, we must not refrain our lips either. When our bodies are His temple, and our tongues the living bells articulately to sound His praise; how can we better employ the speaking faculty, than in celebrating His goodness that gave it? What we are transported with, we can hardly forbear to speak of, if we are full of it, 'tis apt to float on our tongues: and if the mercies of God affect our hearts, 'tis fit we should express the same, both to discharge a due debt ourselves, and also to kindle the like flame in others.

3. We must bless the Lord at all times (ver. 1); not only by fits, as it pleases us, or when extorted from us upon some occasions extraordinary, but with such a heart whose pulse may be His praise. Our holy living is the most effectual thanksgiving. When we justify the Divine laws by our obedience, and thus stand up to attest their high reasonableness and goodness, instead of repining at them as hard sayings and heavy burdens; showing that really we do admire and applaud them for the blessed products of an infinite wisdom and love, to contrive and effect our everlasting happiness: then do we give them the best commendation, to make all enamoured with those sacred institutions, which they not only hear set off in hollow encomiums, but see produce such happy effects (John 15:8; Philippians 1:11).

III. THE REASON WE HAVE THUS TO MAGNIFY THE LORD, AND EXALT HIS NAME.

1. It is the very end of our being. Man, as the priest of this inferior creation, is to offer up a general sacrifice in the name and behalf of all the rest; who in their several ways give a tacit consent, and (as it were) say Amen to the oblation: and when dumb and negligent to praise the Lord, we not only wrong ourselves, but rob multitudes that would do it, had they but our faculties and abilities to reason and express it. We not only stand for cyphers, but carry as an exorbitant rout, breaking our ranks and disordering the world, if we celebrate not His praise who has so set us up.

2. We have not only capacity, but all manner of obligations to it; even common justice hinds us to render to all their dues. Well may we extol Him, when He has done so for us (Psalm 30:1). How many great luminaries else soever there be, all disappear at the rising sun; and all other benefactors must be even nullified to omnify the Supreme.

3. As we are obliged, so by the goodness of it encouraged to it (Psalm 147:1). "It is pleasant, and praise is comely." It gives the pious soul a sweet satisfaction, like the pleasure which an honest man takes in paying his debts. The most delicious viands are not more grateful to a healthy body, than the praises of God are to a well-affected soul. This raises us even into heaven a forehand, to anticipate the anthems of the celestial choir. And how great is that honour, to be taken up in the work of angels! How much for our own praise to praise Him, that has given us both matter and hearts for it!

(B. Jenks.)

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