A Paraphrase and Reflection Upon Psalm 34:1-8

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.

My Reflection

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.

Devotion on Psalm 50:16-17

Today’s Featured Verses – Psalm 50:16-17

But I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been a fortress for me
and a refuge on the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love. (NRSV)

Today there is more John the Baptist and more of God’s judgment.  Reading all these passages at one time is almost too much to take, and so I have decided to quote two verses which are non-judgmental in emphasis from Psalm 50.  After you have read the rest, perhaps you, like me, will need to pause for a moment or two to reflect on God’s steadfast love and providence.

And after you have read today’s passages and reread the verses above a few times, pause for a moment to remember this simple fact:  “The one who judges us, sent his only son to die for us.”  This shows us all the steadfast and amazing depth of God’s love.

A Reflection on Psalm 90

Psalm 90 – My Paraphrase

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth or you had formed the world and its habitation,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn mortals back to dust, saying,
“Return to dust, O children of humanity.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep them away;
they are like sleep at the break of day –
they are like grass that springs up:
6 In the morning it sprouts and flourishes,
but by dusk it is dried up and cut down.
7 We are consumed by your anger and we tremble at your wrath.
8 You have set our sins before you, our secrets in the light of your face.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a sigh.

10 The span of our years is seventy, or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are wearisome and sorrowful,
for they quickly pass, and we fade away.
11 Who knows the strength of your anger,
or the exceeding dread of your wrath?
12 So teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Turn back, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants.
14 Fill us in the morning with your mercy,
so that we may shout aloud for joy and rejoice all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have experienced sorrow.
16 Let your work be seen by your servants,
and your splendor to their children.
17 May the delight of the Lord our God rest on us;
and establish for us the work of our hands –
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Reflection

We are told that this is a psalm of Moses. In this beautiful poem Moses speaks not only of the brevity of human life, but also of the awesome might of God. One of the main points of this psalm is the relative impotence of humankind in the face of God’s power and strength. We are dependent upon God for our lives, and need to recognize our own mortality. In fact, nothing we do will last, unless God establishes it for us.


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