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Psalms 34 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Another song of praise (cp. Psa 34:1 with Psa 33:1). The Psalmist gratefully celebrates, and invites others to join him in celebrating, Jehovah’s care for those who fear Him, manifested towards himself and many another afflicted saint (Psa 34:1-10). Then, assuming the tone of a teacher, he sets forth the essential characteristics of the fear of Jehovah, and commends it by a consideration of the blessings which He bestows on those who fear Him (Psa 34:11-22).

The verses for the most part run in pairs.

The Psalm is closely related to Psalms 25. Both are alphabetic Psalms, with the peculiarity that the verse beginning with Vav is omitted [11] , and a supplementary verse beginning with added at the end to make up the number of letters in the alphabet (Psa 34:22). For the ingenious though improbable conjecture that these verses record the names of the authors, see note on Psa 25:22. Both Psalms moreover shew a striking affinity in thought and language to the Book of Proverbs; and this Psalm corresponds to Psalms 25 as thanksgiving to prayer.

[11] In Dr. Scrivener’s edition, from which the text of the present edition is taken, the letter Vav is prefixed to the second line of Psa 34:5. But throughout the Psalm each letter has a complete distich, and it is preferable to suppose that Vav is omitted as in Psalms 25 rather than that Hi and Vav have only a single line each.

The title assigns the Psalm to David, when he feigned madness (lit. changed his reason) before Abimelech; and he drove him away, and he departed. The incident referred to is related in 1Sa 21:11 ff., where however the Philistine king is called Achish. After Saul’s massacre of the priests at Nob, David fled to Gath. It was a desperate expedient: he was discovered, and only escaped with his life by feigning madness. Psalms 56 is connected by its title with the same occasion.

Most modern commentators peremptorily reject the title as of no value. The Psalm, they think, does not suit the supposed occasion; it manifestly bears the stamp of a later age; and the scribe or compiler who prefixed the title took it from 1 Samuel, substituting Abimelech for Achish by a slip of memory.

It is however hard to suppose such ignorance or carelessness on the part of a compiler; and the facts that the title does not agree with 1 Sam., and that there is nothing in the Psalm to suggest that particular occasion, are really in favour of regarding the title as resting upon some independent authority, and not upon mere conjecture. Can it have been derived, as Delitzsch thinks, from the Annals of David, one of the older works from which the Book of Samuel was compiled? The difference in the names might easily be accounted for if Abimelech was a dynastic name or royal title, like Agag among the Amalekites, or Pharaoh in Egypt. Cp. Genesis 20; Genesis 21; Genesis 26.

But it must be acknowledged that thought and style are those of the Book of Proverbs, and apparently of a later age. Was the Psalm written by some poet-sage, who thought of that perilous episode in David’s life as one of the most striking illustrations of the truth which he wished to enforce?

It was one of the Eucharistic Psalms of the early Church; a use no doubt suggested by Psa 34:8. See Bingham’s Antiq. 34:460.

Psa 34:1 ; Psa 34:15 connect the Psalm with Psa 33:1; Psa 33:18; Psa 34:7 links it to Psa 35:5-6.

Consult other comments:

Psalms 34:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 34:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 34:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 34:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 34:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 34:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 34:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 34:0 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Psalms 34:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 34:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges