The background to Psalm 34 is an unusual and quite amusing story. In First Samuel 21:10-15, while David is fleeing his archenemy King Saul, David goes to Achish king of Gath, another deadly enemy. Unfortunately, Achish’s servants recognize him, and David’s only way to escape the situation is to feign madness by acting strangely and dribbling at his mouth. Pretty soon, because of David’s supposed madness, he is dismissed by Achish, thus freeing him to go his way.
On its own, this is a pretty funny anecdote that might cause us to smile at our human ability to wiggle ourselves out of almost any circumstance. In today’s reading though, having reflected on his experience, David deepens our understanding of the event.
He does not attribute his deliverance from danger to his cleverness or his acting skills. Rather, he places God at the center of the event. David acknowledges that while he might have had the presence of mind to put on an act, it was God who softened Achish’s heart, thus causing him to change his mind about David. And so it is from this place of certainty and assurance of God’s safekeeping of those who trust in God that David extends an invitation to steer away from all self-centeredness and all belief in self-sufficiency, in order to taste and see how good God—the liberator—really is.
Reflect on a time when you were delivered from a dangerous situation. How was God present in that situation? Consider writing your own psalm of praise for God's deliverance.
Sometimes we can look back and see why challenging things happened to us, but this is not always the case. Job never fully understood his story but finally submitted his life to God in humility. In Job’s case, God restored with abundance. The psalmist also rejoices that although the righteous may suffer, God brings ultimate restoration. The reading from Hebrews continues celebrating Christ’s role as the compassionate high priest. Unlike human high priests, who serve only for a time, Christ remains our priest forever. A man without sight in Jericho knows of Jesus’ compassion and cries out for it, despite attempts to silence him. He asks Jesus for mercy, physical healing in his case, and Jesus grants his request because the man has displayed great faith.
Read Job 42:1-6, 10-17. What are your happy and unhappy endings? How do you acknowledge both?
Read Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22. How does God deliver you from your fears? Recall a recent experience of this.
Read Hebrews 7:23-28. What distinction do you draw between sacrifice and offering?
Read Mark 10:46-52. How do you respond to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Respond by posting a prayer.
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