Today’s passage: Psalm 34
Today’s chocolate: Theo Salted Almond Dark Chocolate
Welcome back. Yesterday, we looked at David and his utterly bananapants claim in the very first line of this psalm: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” As I noted, this is a hugely alien perspective to me: an undivided eagerness to worship God in all respects. I don’t have that drive to applaud God without reservation, and if that’s a fault of mine, then I’m willing to admit it. I’m not there yet.
And if I’m going to become a person with that kind of praise for God, something’s going to have to change me. What does David have that I don’t?
It’s not just a matter of will, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and determining to worship God constantly. Something has in fact changed David: he’s been through an experience that brought him where he is now. He recalls: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles” (6). Remember that, in context, David wrote this song about “when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed.” Things could have easily gone south in Abimelech’s presence, but David sees the hand of God in keeping him from making another enemy out of a king even while he’s on the run from King Saul.
And as a result, David has grounds for praise. “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (8), he sings. We aren’t called to praise God for no reason; nor are we called to take it on blind faith that God is praiseworthy. Instead, we’re invited to experience–with our senses!–just how good God is. And this isn’t some sunshine-and-daffodils view that glosses over the suffering and injustice in the world. In a verse the likes of which I can’t remember seeing yet in all the previous thirty-three psalms, David acknowledges, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (19). David’s no stranger to pain: he’s suffered violence, shame, hunger, the fatigue of constantly being on the run, but here he declares that the Lord rescues the righteous in time. It may require patience, but the Lord plays the long game.
That’s what David’s got that I don’t. He’s been faced with the threat of death time and time again, but he’s seen God come through for him. In Brueggemann’s terms, he’s gone from orientation to disorientation to new orientation–not just in the incident with Abimelech, but in countless other events. And in much the same way, God is giving me a reason for praise–and he’s not done yet.