Psalm 34:1-8 – My Paraphrase
1 I will bless the Eternal at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul will glory in the Eternal; the humble will hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the Eternal with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Eternal, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look unto him and be radiant; and your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor one cried, and the Eternal heard and saved him from every trouble.
7 The angel of the Eternal pitches his tent around those who fear him and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the Eternal is good: blessed are those who seek refuge in him.
To praise God at all times and to trust that God will deliver. It sounds really good, but it can be incredibly hard to practice in life. First of all, most of us hardly do enough praising, especially in our more contentious and complaining moods. Second, many of us prefer to save ourselves, or to at least have a healthy amount of the responsibility for the saving.
The Psalm does, however, have one of my favorite verses in it: “Taste and see that the Lord (or the Eternal) is good.” I often say this when distributing the elements for communion, and when someone complains that the hunks of bread that I give out are too big, I tell them what my old professor of United Methodist History used to tell us at Drew. Ken Rowe would look at us and ask, “How can you taste and see if the Lord is good by eating a crumb of bread or drinking a thimble full of grape juice.”
One final note: Psalm 34 is an acrostic Psalm. In Hebrew, the first verse begins with a word starting with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph), the second verse begins with the second letter (beth), and so forth through the alphabet (though there are no verses for waw and two verses for pe).
The Thoughts of Others
“If half the breath thus vainly spent” in finding fault with our fellow-Christians were spent in prayer and praise, how much happier, how much richer, we should be spiritually! “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – C. H. Spurgeon
Using the Tongue Well – a sermon by Dr. Marshall C. St. John at Wayside Presbyterian Church, Signal Mountain, Tennessee.