This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 34:1-7

Yahweh Hears and Answers

(H) Of David, when he feigned insanity in the presence of Abimelech who drove him away, and he departed. (1) I will bless Yahweh at all times. His praise (will be) continually in my mouth. (2) My soul will boast in Yahweh. Let the afflicted hear and rejoice. (3) Magnify Yahweh with me, and let us exalt his name together! (4) I sought Yahweh, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (5) Those (who) look to him are radiant. May their faces never be ashamed. (6) This afflicted one cried out, and Yahweh heard and delivered him from all his troubles. (7) The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.

This is one of the most Yahweh-centered paragraphs in all the psalms. In six of the seven verses Yahweh’s name is mentioned, and in the one verse where his actual name is not found, Yahweh is obviously the one to whom reference is made (vs. 5). In the first three verses, David uses four synonyms for “praise” and repeats one of the words to make a total of five: “bless” and “praise” (vs. 1), “boast” which is from the same root as “praise” (vs. 2), “magnify,” and “exalt” (vs. 3). David also uses five imperatival verb forms to summon his readers to worship Yahweh. The thrust of these first three verses is clearly a “call to worship.”

In the next four verses, David provides a clear rationale for Yahweh’s receiving such adoring praise. He uses two expressions that signify “answered prayer” and three different Hebrew words which all mean “deliver” in English (vss. 4, 6, & 7). Note also the repetition of “afflicted.” In its first use, the afflicted are exhorted to praise Yahweh (vs. 2). In its second occurrence David gives a personal testimony, “This afflicted one cried out” (vs. 6).

I.  Call to worship Yahweh  (1-3)
II.  Cause for worshiping Yahweh  (4-7)

Yahweh’s readiness to hear and answer the prayers of those who cry out to him should cause all who know him to praise him continually.

The phrase, “this afflicted one cried out” or “this poor man cried” (KJV), is one of those memorable phrases that those who love the Psalms find ringing in their ears over a lifetime (vs. 6). At least that is true for this author. Many times I have found myself in a tight spot, encountering various difficulties, having exams to pass, bills to pay, problems to face, wondering how to cope with the adversity, and found myself quoting the phrase, “this poor man cried.”

It is the rest of the verse that brings us genuine comfort, “and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (vs. 6, KJV). Yahweh is a God who both hears and answers our prayers when we cry out earnestly to him for help. We may not know precisely how Yahweh will deliver us or when that relief will come, but if we know that he has heard us and will undoubtedly answer us in his time and in his way, we can face whatever situation we may encounter with confidence that the help we need from him will arrive just when we need it.

Psalm 34:8-14

Psalm 33:20-22