In this Psalm, David is thankful for the deliverance of the Lord as he’s recently escaped one of his many foes. As he does often, David expresses his feelings towards God in a gorgeous way in this psalm.
Psalm 34:4-5 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Sometimes I love Bible verses so much that I’m not even sure how to begin to study them. So I’m going to break this one into two parts.
First up is verse 4. I think it’s really key to recognize that David doesn’t say that God delivered him from all of his enemies. Many times in the Psalms, David is thankful for deliverance from enemies. But that’s not what he says here. He says that he sought the Lord, and that the Lord delivered him from his fears. When I really meditate on this, I feel like the word fears has a dual meaning. David could be referencing an actual situation that he was fearful within, and in fact that’s what one study guide suggests. But as I read this verse, I know it also means that God can deliver us from the fears that live in our mind.
I’ve shared twice about this in the past, so I’ll keep this brief. One fear that’s enslaved me for a lifetime is my fear of the end of the world, of the return of Christ, end times, armageddon and all that stuff. In a class at my church we were set to study that very subject, and I asked God to give me a breakthrough. And in the first ten minutes of that class, He delivered. I experienced a supernatural deliverance from that fear.
And one last note, David doesn’t say that the Lord delivered him from A fear, he says ALL fears.
As I move to verse 5, I want to share exactly what I wrote in my notes when I read this. There’s no shame in Jesus. Verse 5 tells us that those who look to God are radiant, and our faces will never be ashamed. It’s funny, because right now as I type I’m watching a praise and worship session on my computer, and they’re in the middle of a freestyle song about not being ashamed to dance and sing for God. It’s all about being unashamed. When you’re abiding with Jesus, there is no room for shame. Jesus’ love is never going to co-exist with shame in a place. All that junk inside of us, all the garbage we let build up inside, it doesn’t stand a chance against the power of Jesus’ love. Pull back the curtains on your soul and let the light of Jesus’ love wash out everything else inside of you.
This verse also says that those who look to the Lord are radiant. Radiant is defined as “sending out light; shining or glowing brightly.” I realized as I wrote that definition that it’s been a long time since I wrote about being a light. It was something that came up a lot in my early Bible studies, and I’m really glad that I was just reminded of it. If we’re looking to God, if we’re focusing on Him and making Him the head of our life, we’re going to be shining lights in this world. His love is so massive that it fills us from top to bottom and then overflows, pouring out and displaying itself to the world around us. We should be so full of Jesus that people can feel it. They should feel differently when they pass by us. They should stop and look back and wonder what it was about you that sets you apart. We should radiate with God’s love. In this psalm, David says that this radiant quality comes simply from looking to the Lord. That’s the power of God’s love and of His goodness. All I have to do is make God the focus of my life, and I’m lit up like a beacon in the night for all those who need be reminded that hope still lives. What a beautiful fact, and what an awesome side effect of being a child of God.
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As I close out this study of Psalm 34 I want to share two versions of a verse that really jumped out at me.
Psalm 34:18-19 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:18-19 (The Message) If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. 19 Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.
We already talked about deliverance today, so what I want to focus on is a simple truth represented in these verses. The Bible doesn’t say that with God on our side we’ll avoid getting punched in the gut. What it does say is that when we get punched in the gut, our Lord will be there to help us catch our breath. I think it’s important to remind ourselves from time to time that troubles aren’t out of the ordinary for believers. Being a born again follower of Jesus doesn’t mean we’ll skate through life with no trials or tribulations. The Bible reminds us again and again that trouble is coming. It isn’t if, it’s when. But the Bible, like it does in this verse, also reminds us again and again that we don’t face troubles alone! And it doesn’t say that the Lord delivers us out of some of those troubles. It doesn’t say that 33.3% of the time God will deliver us from our afflictions. In verse 19 it says “but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Or like the Message says it, “God is there every time.” I love my God, and I’m consistently and daily blown away by how awesome His love for me is.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, I’m blown away by you today. The promises of your word aren’t expired, they’re alive in my life and in the world around me. Your word says you deliver from fear, and you do. I thank you that the Bible isn’t full of one use coupons that got cashed in by the holy men and women of the past. These are everlasting promises that you extend to all. You are not a God of half done works, either. You delivered me from my fear of the end times and you’ve stayed steadfast and true, keeping me delivered. I don’t want the world to end, but when it does I know it’s all going to bring about your glorious victory. You are my deliverer, my savior, my comforter, my guide, and I so want to be worthy of you. I know I come up short, but Lord I just ask that my desire to be worthy of you burns ever hotter in 2016. Make us a people who are desperate to measure up to your standards, who are always yearning to act, speak, think, and live like Jesus did. Lastly, today I just praise you for the awesomeness of your love. This psalm today says that those who look to you are radiant. The simple act of looking to you and focusing on you makes me a beacon of your love! That’s how massive your love is, that’s how powerful your goodness is, that whether I want to or not, I shine because my focus is on you. What a God. What a love. What a power. Lord, may I never lose my sense of awe over you. I’m blown away by you, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You are the God of new beginnings, and at the beginning of 2016 I pray for every single person in my sphere of influence that you will put to rest the troubles and struggles of 2015. The failures of 2015, the stumbles, the embarrassments, the times we came up short, I pray right now that you seal them away. You are the God of new life, the God of the clean slate, the God of Saul and the God of Paul, and I pray that you extend that spirit to everyone around me as 2016 begins. Our past sins, our past failures, let them be buried in your tomb, and let us be risen to new life with you, Jesus, as we set out on a victorious 2016. I love you Lord, and I thank you so much for all that you are. I know this is a year of victory. And I thank you for that heart of assured victory you give me. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.
Well, that’s it for a while for me guys. I’m going to be mostly offline for the next two weeks. I’d encourage you to keep (or start) reading your Bible this year. Even if it’s just a paragraph a day, set into motion daily contact with the word of God. It’s a life changer, that book. I love you all, and never forget that God loves you. He is the God of new beginnings, and if you need a new beginning in 2016 then it starts this second through the power and love of Jesus. Live in that victory.