I will bless Yahweh at all times,
his praise continually on my lips.
I will praise Yahweh from my heart;
let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me
the greatness of Yahweh,
let us acclaim his name together.
I seek Yahweh and he answers me,
frees me from all my fears.
Taste and see that Yahweh is good.
How blessed are those
who take refuge in him.
Linda May 14, 2023 - Psalm 34 is what is known as an Alphabetical Psalm. In some translations you can find the Hebrew alphabet in the margin at the beginning of each verse. This makes the Psalm come alive and makes it real because it connects us to the Jews who have sung or recited this psalm, written by their most famous and beloved King, for close to three thousand years. And as Catholics, we sing it still today in our liturgies around the world!
Psalm 34 is also known as a Wisdom Psalm because it contains guidance relating to the proper conduct of one's life as well as wisdom for the person trying to lead a godly life in everyday circumstances. If you read the entire psalm, you see for example that David tries to show how the fate of the wicked is in marked contrast to the fate of the upright person who tries to follow God's ways.
But it's also a psalm with a very joyful and even exuberant ring to it. Before David became king of Israel, he endured much persecution and suffering at the hands of Saul. Through the prophet Samuel, the Lord had told Saul that his descendants would never ascend to the throne because of his many acts of disobedience, and even though Saul knew this, he still tried to have David killed many times in order to safeguard his rule. Through his exploits on the battlefield, David had become very popular with the masses and this was another reason for Saul's jealousy.
In 1 Samuel 21:11-16, we see David once again fleeing from Saul. He ended up in Philistine territory, in the city of Gath, where Achish (a.k.a. Abimelech) was king. His servants happened to recognize David, the champion of Saul's army and they warned the king. When David found this out, he was really frightened so he decided to play the madman and feigned lunacy. Achish came to the conclusion that David was no threat to him so he sent him on his way. David subsequently took refuge in the Cave of Adullam, where he was reunited with his brothers and his father's entire family. They too were hiding because they were afraid that Saul would come after them and try to kill them as well.
It was after this particular adventure that David wrote Psalm 34. He wanted to celebrate the goodness of the Lord in protecting him and taking care of him by freeing him from all of his enemies. That is why there's such a joyful note of praise in this psalm. David's joy was very real and it comes through in this psalm. He had truly been pressed on all sides by his enemies and had been afraid for his life, but the Lord saved him! In his joy, he calls those around him to rejoice with him, to praise this wonderful God and to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord".
If you wish to hear Marcel's up-beat rendition of Psalm 34, please click on the image below.