What does it mean to “magnify the Lord” or to “taste and see that the Lord is good? In the first week of our Playlist series, John Elmore dissects the lyrics of Psalm 34 and reminds us of how God is good even in trials.
God's Love Never Stops | Psalm 118
The Good Shepherd | Psalm 23
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made | Psalm 139
Jesus is Our Satisfaction | Psalm 16
God is Good in our Trials | Psalm 34
What does it mean to “magnify the Lord” or to “taste and see that the Lord is good? In the first week of our Playlist series, John Elmore dissects the lyrics of Psalm 34 and reminds us of how God is good even in trials.
Good morning, everyone! My name is John Elmore. I serve here within re:generation and pastoral care. I love being with y'all. It's so good to see you, family, here on Sunday. The playlist that you just saw… That's our summer series right now, Playlist, as we walk through the psalms through the next six weeks.
What that made me think of initially when they told me they were doing that, I'm like, "Oh dude." That locks into my brain. That takes me back. I'm a child of the 80s. I'm listening to, "Walking On Sunshine," "Summer Of '69," and "Jack & Diane" on my BMX bike just cruising the neighborhood. It's like nostalgia, right? You hear these certain songs, and it takes you back.
I know, I can see myself as a little boy singing those songs as they've been embedded. You just ruminate on them. In the same way, God has given us a list, a song list, a playlist within the psalms. He has given us these 3,000-year-old psalms that give us that nostalgia of what the Lord has done in the past that he promises to do in the future as he walks with his children, delivers them, and sets them free.
So this beginning of Playlist is a gift to us from the Lord as we walk through Psalm 34 today in particular, which is a psalm of David. I chose this one. There was a list of them. We sang it earlier. This is a Shane & Shane song. "Magnify the Lord… Come exalt his name forever." This is what we just sang, and now we're going to walk through it.
We're going to go through it verse by verse, but we're not going to start in Psalm 34 because within Psalm 34, the Lord has… He doesn't do this with all the psalms. Sometimes it just begins right out, but on this one in particular, he left a contextual clue for us. It's not actually a verse at all, but David, as he gave this over to probably the priest at the time, wrote it down. It's this. It's called a superscript. It's written right above the psalm, and it says, "Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he [the king] drove him out, and he went away."
It's like, "Wait, what? Changed his behavior?" This sounds like something I tell my kids. What is that? So contextually you jump back, and it's 1 Samuel, chapters 21 and 22. As you look at this and what's going on in context of the psalm and when it was written and who it was delivered to, it is amazing what God has preserved in his Scripture and the way that he gives it to us for our instruction.
So here we are. Let me set it up first. So David, little shepherd boy, son of Jesse, who has all these sons. God said to Samuel, "Hey, go find Jesse. You're going to anoint one of his boys as king." Saul is king right now. Saul is proud, tall, thinks he has it all under control, but he is selfish. He wants the glory for himself. So God is like, "All right, the kingdom is stripped from you. I'm going to raise up somebody else." He sends Samuel the prophet to go to Jesse's house.
He parades all his sons in front of Samuel. He was like, "Not him, not him, not him, not him." He was like, "Nobody?" Jesse was like, "Well, there's another kid, but he's watching the sheep. He is the youngest." Samuel was like, "Bring him here. We're not going to sit down until I meet him." As he, David, comes forward, Samuel was like, "That's him!" The Lord says to Samuel, "That's him! Anoint him." So he is anointed as king.
Then you know the story about David and Goliath. Then he is running back and forth. He is an errand boy. He has been anointed. His brothers are off at battle fighting the Philistines, Goliath. It's a famous story. He comes upon this, and he was like, "Who defies the armies of the living God?" So he picks up five stones, runs to the battle, slays Goliath, and all that.
He was just taking food to his brothers. That's how David is even there. From there on out, then Saul gets depressed, but David can play the harp so it kind of puts his mind at ease, but then he gets jealous. Saul gets enraged with David so he is literally trying to kill him. It's like this love/hate, cat and mouse.
Well here, it's escalated enough that Saul is like, "You're dead. I hate you. I'm coming after you." So David is fleeing. Now here we are in 1 Samuel 21, verse 10. This is nuts. It says, "And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath." Now if you're not up on your Philistine kingly lineage or your geography within the Hebrew Scriptures, it doesn't mean much.
You're like, "Achish, Gath, whatever. Next. Get to the next verse." When I saw Gath, I was like, "Hold on. I've heard of Gath. Why have I heard of Gath? That sounds so familiar. Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip. Oh shoot! It's says Goliath of Gath." That was his hometown, that 9-foot-tall bad dude. In the standoff between Israel and the Philistines, Goliath was from Gath.
Now you have David going into Gath. What is he doing? This is like the President walking into Islamabad, Pakistan, to hang at bin Laden's compound. It's like, "What's going on? Why is David going to Gath?" I think why he is going to Gath is because Saul was afraid of the Philistines. That's why David was even in that battle.
There was this standoff, and every day Goliath would be like, "Who's going to get me? If you guys beat me, we'll be your servants. If we beat you, you'll be ours." Saul is just there watching. He is not going to do it. David comes forth and slays him. What happens is he just slays him with the sling and stone, but then he walks up to this fallen giant, takes the giant's sword out of his dead hands, and cuts his head off with his own sword.
Just prior to David going to Gath, as David is fleeing from Saul, he goes to this priest because he is hungry. He was like, "Hey, I need some bread." It's like, "Okay, here's some bread." David was like, "Do you have anything else? Do you have a sword or a spear?" He was like, "Well, we have the sword of Goliath." He says, "Give it to me, for there is none like it." The last time David held that sword was when God had given him deliverance from the enemies of Israel, and now he is holding it again.
He has the sword in hand and he is walking into enemy land. This is bizarre. The thing is, as I read that, I'm like, "Oh, we do the same thing." Sword in hand, walking into enemy land, the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6 says. Hebrews 4:12: "…sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…" We have a sword in hand. We have ample Bibles as American Christians. We have them coming out of our ears, you know?
Yet we walk back into enemy land just like David did. What are we doing? This would be me having a Bible study in a bar, but not just sitting in a bar. "That's weird. Why would you go back into enemy territory, recovering alcoholic?" It's like having pints of Guinness and getting drunk. We do this. Tim Keller has rightly said that we have functional saviors.
There is the eternal Savior, Jesus, who delivers us from our sin, from Satan, from death, but when we get tired of waiting on him, we'll go to a functional savior, who will meet our need in the moment, who will give us a little bit of relief, albeit poisonous, fleeting, life-taking instead of life-giving. We'll go to those functional saviors instead of the true Savior.
Here you have David doing the same thing. He has the sword in hand, reminding himself of the deliverance of God, and he runs into enemy territory. You and I would be wise to think about our functional savior and where we're running back, the sword in hand of our deliverance, back into enemy land.
It continues. "And the servants of Achish said to him, 'Is not this David the king of the land?'" Saul was still king. They already recognize him as like, "Dude, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.' This is the king." They acknowledged what had not yet come to pass.
Verse 12: "And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath." Listen. "So he changed his behavior…" There it is, the superscript from Psalm 34. This is nuts. "…before them and pretended to be insane in their hands…" He is acting crazy. This conquering, anointed king is now scared, and so he is just acting crazy because he has fallen into their hands.
"…and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, 'Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?'" "What are you doing, bringing a madman to me?" David is literally in the clutches of his enemy, and it's like, "Get him out of here," because he is faking to be crazy.
It's been said of the Bible that man wouldn't write it even if he could. Meaning, what people group would be like, "Well, here's a good idea. The anointed king of Israel, King David, let's tell the story about the time that he acted crazy in front of his enemy and let spit run down his beard, and that's how he got away." That's valiant.
It's also said, just as it is said that man wouldn't write it even if he could, he couldn't write it even if he would. Why? Because it's replete with this perfect morality. It's replete with the prophecies, hundreds that could only be fulfilled in Christ. It's replete with these transforming truths and these historical narratives that you find all throughout archaeology.
The more they dig, the more this thing becomes true. Any other holy book (that, P.S., is not holy) could never put a candle to this. That's crazy. It continues in chapter 22, verse 1. "David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam." Adullam is a Hebrew word that means refuge, a place of hiding.
He is now stuck between two kings. He has King Saul and King Achish, and here he is in a cave. It's not a good day. "And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him." Listen. Listen to the Christology in this, the Christ-type figure. "And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul…" Distressed, in debt, depressed. "…gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men."
Four hundred men, 400 of society's derelicts, were with him. It's like, "Oh great, I have the debtors, the distressed, and the depressed. Awesome. Let's go to war, Lord. And we're in a cave. And we're stuck between two kings. What's going on? Why, God, would you send me these?" It's exactly what God does. He did it then.
Do you know what this passage mirrors? First Corinthians 1, where Paul writes, "Dear brothers, consider that not many of you were noble in your birth. You were not strong or wise, but rather you were weak, shameful, depressed." The things that we're not, to call them the things that are. He says this is what God does. He just chooses the ones who are in need, the ones who are desperate.
Because so often we're like, "We don't need you, God. I'm an American. I have money. What need do I have?" It's the humble who come before him, and there he is gathering these before him. Then you're not going to find this in the Bible. This is what I think happened, but it's amazing. Psalm 34 is an acrostic, meaning it's the Hebrew letters: Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Dalet. It's A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
It's a mnemonic device to help you memorize it.
I think what happened is he fled from the King. It says right there in the superscript that he wrote this when he was fleeing, when he changed his behavior. I think he is sitting there in the cave penning Psalm 34, and then he gives it back to the distressed, the depressed, and the indebted with this mnemonic device. Like, "Hey, I'm going to teach you to memorize this. I want you to know the goodness of the Lord. I want you to taste and see the Lord is good." Because they needed that good news, and so do we today. So now we're going to pick it up with that in mind.
Psalm 34, verse 1: "I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." The way that I would put a subtitle over Psalm 34 is that we sing in our suffering. He is sovereign over the storm. Just like birds sing in the dark because they know the dawn is coming, so do we as Christians. Even in this present darkness, even in the afflictions, even in the suffering, we lift our voices to sing for the one who is sovereign over our sorrow.
You're going to see David do this. He is writing it from a cave with those 400 rag-tag bunch, and yet this is what comes out of his heart and mouth, inspired by the Spirit. "I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." It sounds kind of like when Paul says "…pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…"
It's like, "Man, really? At all times? When I'm driving? When I forget? I can't do it always. Sometimes I have to talk or I have to talk to my kids or… Really? Always?" What David is saying is after this deliverance, "I always will. I will always boast in the Lord. I will always praise him. I will always have the praise and the blessing of the Lord in my mouth because of what he has done. I'll never forget."
You may have heard or seen, but a couple of weeks ago my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. When we found out about this, we didn't have praises coming out of our mouths. We weren't blessing the Lord. I was like staring into a wall, and she is crying. We're like, "What?" It was like a bomb went off.
Our Community Group came around us. They came down, and they're sitting with us. They were sitting, and I did not sing. I'm just like staring at the floor. It felt out of body, like a bad dream, a bad movie. I'm just staring at the floor. By the third song, I started singing in just a whisper, but it was this. "I can praise you, even in the midst of this."
Not I can, I must. What else am I going to do? I have to re-center, re-fix my eyes upon you. So we have and so we continue to. Job says, when he finds out that he loses his family, his livelihood, it says that he tears his clothes, shaves his head, falls to the ground, and worships. Worships. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Praise comes out as the pressures increase.
Verse 2: "My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad." Look, David could've boasted in a lot of things. He could've boasted in, "I am the anointed one of Israel. I'm going to be king. It isn't going to be Saul. He is on a shot clock. I'm the new guy." He could've boasted in the fact that he is like, "I have Goliath's sword right here."
He could've boasted in the fact that he is like, "Dude, I just tricked the king of Achish. I was drooling in my beard! Got that, sucker!" He could've boasted in so many things. He could've boasted that he conquered Goliath. Instead, he boasts in the Lord. He knew exactly where every single victory, whether Goliath, whether the anointing, whether rescuing the lamb from the bear and the lion's mouths, the deliverance from King Achish. He knew right well.
"Dude, let me boast in you and you alone. None of it is from me. None." Yet I think we do the opposite. I think we're like, "No, no, no. I'm the one who worked hard. Have I shown you my resume? Look at what I've done. Look at my accomplishments. Do you know my education, my investments, my bank account, my zip code, my square footage, my car, my wife, whatever it may be?"
We put all these boasts like we did something. Let me tell you something. You didn't do anything. We need to be more like David. It's like, "Let my soul boast in the Lord," and it's not my idea. Listen to these Scriptures. First Corinthians 4:7 says, "What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?"
You might think like, "No, I worked hard in school." It's like, "Okay, cool. Who gave you your brain? You didn't make your IQ." "Yeah, but I had a good school district, and then I went to an Ivy League, whatever." It's like, "Did you just create that opportunity? Was that you, you self-made man?" There's no such thing as a self-made man. That's self-deception.
I was in Haiti once for summer at an orphanage. This orphan said, "Why are you an American and I'm a Haitian?" I was like, "Hehe, little boy. I live in the United States of America. That's my citizenship. And you live in Haiti." He just looked at me like, "You idiot." He was like, "No, why am I Haitian?" What he was saying to me was like, "Why did God make me an orphan in Haiti and you have a car, education? You fly wherever you want to go to come here and go back and you have food. I don't even have clean water. Why is that?"
That's Acts 17. It says he determined the time and places that each one of us lives. You had nothing to do with anything, nothing. You didn't decide where you were born. You didn't decide the parents or the family that you were born into or lack thereof. You didn't choose your race. You didn't choose your physical abilities. You didn't choose anything. Everything is from God.
Now let me tell you something. It even says in Deuteronomy 8 that he gives us the ability to produce wealth. None of it's from you! John the Baptist says, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven." And yet we boast. Some even scoff. It's not just that you exalt self. You tear down others. Racism is an example.
Think of it like, "I don't like that people group, that ethnicity. They're different from me, and I'm better than them." That's evil. You are scoffing at the Creator God who made all people in his image. Every tribe, tongue, and nation will worship the Lord. Who are you? You find yourself striving against God in doing that. You're mocking the Creator and his creation. Or you could mock class or physical ability or whatever it may be. Boast in the Lord.
"…let the humble hear and be glad." He is talking to these 400 derelicts in a cave. "…let the humble hear and be glad." Let me tell you something. You can't hear if you're proud. Pride is deafening. Pride is spiritual suicide to think that you somehow, we somehow, are just like, "Nah, I'm good." Then you will die, and you will not be good. There will be hell forever.
But "…let the humble hear and be glad." The humble are like, "Dude, I'm destitute. I am impoverished spiritually. I have nothing, God. I have nothing but sin to bring before you." It's like, "Then you are humble, and be glad, because that is exactly why God came." Verse 3: "Oh, magnify the LORD with me…"
The word magnify is to grow and to increase.It's like, "Let the Lord be bigger than all. Look, I'm stuck in between two kings. I'm in a cave. I have you guys. Let's magnify the Lord.Let's make the Lord bigger than all. Let's examine him that everything would become big like a magnifying glass that you see the intricacies and the details." As you look, it's bigger and growing and increasing. He said, "Let's do that together." "…and let us exalt his name together!"
Well, let me say this. When you praise God, your problems get smaller. I found that recently. On June 27 when I was preaching, I walked into this auditorium for the first time with my wife's cancer diagnosis, and it was like… I was still in shock, I think. Everybody is singing, and then slowly I kind of lift my hands, and I need to sing. I was compelled and moved to sing. When I say, "I lift my hands," it's not because I'm like particularly charismatic or something like that.
It's because in 1 Timothy 2 he says to. Let men everywhere with holy hands lifted high, lift up praises. So I'm like, "You say it; I do it." You see it in the psalms, and I see it with my kids. They're needy little children with their hands up, running to me, in need. I'm like, "I need this now." I didn't feel like singing, just like that night with community, but do you know what happened?
I had 3,000 souls singing behind me as I sat right there just like reverberating, exalting his name together. I started singing. I was singing my heart out as I re-centered, exalted his name, magnified and reminded that though there is cancer and affliction and suffering and all that, you're above it all.
I was in Sudan for a summer. In church, people are worshipping, and they worship strong. They're dancing, and I'm seeing dancing with a Bible over their head. I'm like, "That's a cool dance move." They were saying, "God over all, no matter what befalls me." There were land mines in the fields. It was decimated, Darfur stuff. There they are, Bibles over their heads, "God over all, exalted over all." My problems become smaller as he is exalted.
Verse 4: "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." The equation here is prayer, providence, and peculiar. I sought the Lord: prayer. He delivered me from all my fears: providentially through strange ways. He will deliver you. He'll bring you through. Then there's this peculiar thing that happens.
It says that we all, with unveiled faces, reflect the glory of God. People are like, "What is it about you, you strange Christians? You go through this furnace of afflictions, and yet you're able to sing, you're able to have joy. You're able to express love when you are hard-pressed or reviled or persecuted."
Beth Barnard, a member here in our Community Group, wife of Shane Barnard, who wrote that song, "Psalm 34." She just lost her father a year ago. It was just the year anniversary. He died of cancer. It was a long battle with cancer. He was in hospice care there in their house, in the family room, the middle of the house. It was horrible. He is at home with the Lord now.
As Beth walked through that, as she walked through that season, seeing her mother grieve and her siblings and the grandchildren and saying goodbye to her own dad, do you know what came out of Beth? The faces of those who looked at him were radiant. What came out of Beth is a whole album. It's called All My Questions, meaning, "All my questions for you, God." It's an album for suffering in trials and afflictions.
There are some times that you get one song in contemporary Christian music that's about suffering. This is a whole album as a gift to the church. When she was hard pressed, that's what came out. There's a song called "You Know." It starts like this. "Holy Spirit, you are bigger than depression. …You are making intercession. …I know this won't last forever. Down the road, I'll see it differently in hindsight. You know this isn't what I would've chosen, but you know how to make me free."
There's a radiance there as a result. Verse 6: "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles." The word poor there is needy, humility, afflicted, wretched. It's not materially poor. He's like, "I have nothing to me. Not just financially, nothingness. He is broken." As he cries, the Lord hears and saves him out of all his troubles.
Jesus says this in John 16:33. He says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." This inexplicable, supernatural peace that we're told about in Philippians 4. There's an Alistair Begg quote that was given to me by one of Laura's friends who lost her husband in a tragic fire.
She sends us this quote by Alistair Begg. It says the peace that comes from the cross of Christ is not an exemption from the battle, but rather the peace comes in the battle. That is when the Lord gives us that peace. Verse 7: "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."
This is a christological statement right there in the middle of Psalm 34. Whenever you see in Scripture an angel of the Lord, it's like one of many: Gabriel, Michael, seraphim, cherubim, whatever it may be. When you say he, the definite article the…the Angel of the Lord…it is a preincarnate picture of Christ where God in flesh shows up on the scene prior to taking on flesh and being born of the virgin. So there is the Son of God.
He says, "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." David was a military man. David, as a military man, knew the most important person goes in the middle with all the ranks surrounding them so that when the enemy comes, there's a buffer. They can fight off. We save the king.
You see this with King Saul whenever he tiptoes in and he cuts off the edge of Saul's robe to say, "Hey, I could've killed you, but I didn't." He tiptoes back out. The important person is in the middle. Here Jesus flips it, and Jesus says, "No, no, no, you're in the middle. I've got you. That's what I came for. I came to save you. You're in the middle, and I'm encamped all around, and nothing is going to hurt you that isn't first passed through my hand. I will redeem your pain." "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them."
This is, as we sang in Psalm 34, where Shane Barnard writes, "The Son of God…" He doesn't say, "the Angel of the Lord…" He says, "The Son of God surrounds his saints." He is with us. This is in Acts 9, where Jesus says to Saul, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Saul is like, "What? I'm not persecuting you. Who, Son of God, Jesus, what? No, it's these people. I'm going to Damascus."
He's like, "What you do to them, you do to me. I am with them. I am in them. I encamp around them." It's profound. Jesus said, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28. He is with you. He is not only by your side; he is on your side. Verse 8: "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
Their refuge. Adullam. He is writing in a refuge saying, "Blessed are you. You know how we're in this cave and we're safe on all sides? That's what it is to be in the Lord." Blessed is the man who takes adullam, who takes refuge in the Lord. The cave of the Lord was the surrounding. It's again the Angel of the Lord being all around.
My mom makes an apple crumb pie that will stop you in your tracks. It's good that she and my dad live 400 miles away in Missouri because I would weigh 400 pounds. I don't have a picture of one because when she makes it, I eat it all…with Blue Bell. It's amazing.
If I showed you a picture of it, you'd be like, "Ah, I don't know. I've seen better. Maybe it's good, maybe it's not. Maybe it tastes like an old shoe. Maybe it's not even sweet enough." I'm like, "No, no, no. You don't understand. You have to taste it. If you taste it, you will never forget how good that apple crumb pie is." Because tasting is a personal thing. You can look at something and be like, "Eh, I don't know."
David saying to these, remember who are distressed, depressed, and in debt (and, P.S., all in debt in sin) he is saying, "You have to taste what I taste. You have to know what I know. It's not just enough to look. You're not just reading a book about a person. You have to know this person. You wouldn't believe it. He delivers me from all my enemies. He rescues me. He ransoms me. Taste and see that the Lord is good."
It's an invitation to a very, very personal, intimate thing. It's like, "You need to taste him. It's not enough to just look or hear my story. Now you do it. You take a bite." "Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing." There was an interview from a while back of Tom Brady, who is a quarterback. He had won three Super Bowls by the age of 27. That's crazy! He is doing this interview with 60 Minutes, and it's haunting.
He says, "I just don't know what life is about. There has to be something else. Three Super Bowls. There has to be something." The interviewer says, "Which of the rings do you like the best? What's your favorite ring?" He says, "The next one…" It's like, "Oh, brother." Dude, if three isn't enough, four and five and six… It's a broken cistern. It's empty. It's vain. Acts 17: "In him we live and move and have our being…" Of course it has to be something else. Of course the next one…
They said to Rockefeller, "How much money is enough?" He said, "Just a little bit more." It's the same thing. It revealed that idol. So, Lord, save Tom. It says, "…but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing." So the young lions, which are at the top of the animal chain and kingdom, even they suffer and lack want. "…but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
Which is Paul in the prison cell writing in Philippians 4 where he says, "I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me." Which is used all the time as an athletic verse, but it has nothing to do with athletics. Just prior to that, he says "…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."
I mean, if you make that the title of a book, you will retire early. Because everybody is like, "What? What's the secret to being content in every circumstance?" He is like, "Jesus. With Jesus I have strength to do anything." Sitting in a prison cell, a dank, dark prison cell. Yet he is like, "I've got this."
It's the richest I have ever been. When I was broke as a joke in seminary. I had a twin bed, twin mattress, on a concrete floor. I was making $8 an hour, working like 20 hours a week. I was eating old bread that the seminary would give to us students. Where were y'all then, by the way? But I have never been more content in my entire life because in that destitution I had God and I had everything. I didn't lack. I had no want.
Verse 11: "Come, O children…" So now he went from testifying and saying, "Taste and see." Now he is going to preach to them. He says, "Come, O children listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?" Who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want to see many days and do good and have good, see good? Then he tells them…what?
He says, "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." He gives them the instructions. Now there are a lot of times in Christianity where people are like, "My house is built on the rock! I'm built on the rock of Jesus Christ." It's like, "Oh man, well you actually should've read the Scripture, because that's not what Jesus said."
In Matthew 7, The Sermon on the Mount, He said, "Look, there are two people. One built his house on the rock; one built his house on the sand. The same storm came. One house fell with a great crash; one stood. Do you know what the difference is? They both heard the Word. One did what it said. The one who did what it said withstood."
It's not just enough to know him. We follow him. As we follow him, the Spirit bears all this through us. He is the one who sanctifies us. My children, Hill, Penny, and Judd, they're Elmore children. They'll always be Elmore children. They can't un-son and un-daughter themselves, but we have some family rules.
You never make fun of someone. The only thing you hate is sin and Satan. We don't lie. We don't cheat. We have Elmore family values. When they step out of that, I correct them. In the same way as like, "Hey, do you want to live the good life? Do you want to taste and see? Do you want to know the knowledge of the fear of the Lord? Do these things. It's going to be good for you."
Because remember these people were in a bad place with the distressed and the depressed. Then he says this, "The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth." I think about our baby monitor. With our firstborn son, the baby monitor was there and when I'd hear him cry, I'd bounce out of bed, go, hold him, and pray over him. I was there. The reason why I specify firstborn son and not our last child is because by the last child, dude, we had that monitor off.
I was like, "I don't care. You're not going to die. You're fine." Poor kid. He probably cried for three hours in a wet diaper, but he is tough now so it's good. It's not like that, though. God doesn't turn the monitor off. This is Psalm 121. Read that. "Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." His eyes are upon you. You cry, he runs. He hears you with that cry, and he's got you. He just wraps you up.
"When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted…" He said this, right? The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him. Now he is saying it again. He is like, "He is near to you." They were brokenhearted, these 400 there in the cave. He is like, "He is near to you." You in particular. He is omnipresent, but for those who are humble, those who are brokenhearted, man, he is close. He is face to face, just wrapping you up.
"…and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all." Now Laura probably nine years ago… Do you know these iPhone notes, like the little yellow notepad deal? We have one. It's called, "On Suffering." I didn't make this. You think, "Oh pastor guy, you have an 'On Suffering' note?" No, I don't. My wife does.
For the last 9 years, she has been putting quotes, Scriptures throughout this. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. Because she knew the day of affliction is coming. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous…" So Laura, and God preparing her for this day, the cancer was going to fall. She was ready because she had set her heart toward that. "I know it's going to come. I don't know what it'll be, but it will be something."
It's not prosperity gospel nonsense. There are going to be afflictions and trials and persecution and tribulation. Acts 14:22 says, "…strengthening the souls of the disciples…and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Second Corinthians 1, "For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
But the Lord delivers them out of them all. If you've lost someone, you're probably like, "No, no he didn't actually deliver him out of them all. You know, I prayed and they died. I prayed for the child, and they were lost in utero. I prayed for whatever, and he did not deliver me. I prayed that I would escape my abuser, and he didn't deliver me."
Here in the case of death, in Isaiah 57, verses 1 and 2, it says, "The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity…" Not to calamity, but from it. "…he enters into peace; they rest in their beds [death] who walk in their uprightness."
Sometimes deliverance doesn't look like how we look, but it's deliverance. A baby is not meant to stay in the womb. Yet that's what we're trying to do is grasp this life, and we should. All the days ordained before yet one of them came to be. God has ordained. There's no such thing as an accidental death. God has ordained the days for you, for everyone, for everyone you've ever known.
All of us are going to die, every single one of us, but God, for the Christian, will have deliverance to life eternal, the other side. He delivers them out of them all. Then verse 20: "He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken." You're like, "Oh, that's a weird verse. Why did David say that?" David probably wrote it like, "Man, Goliath, King Achish, here I am! I'm whole! No bones broken."
A bone broken 3,000 years ago, you didn't heal well from that. There was no cast. There was no x-ray machine. That was a bad thing to go through, and you were never going to be the same as a result. Here he says, "Not a bone was broken. Look what the Lord did! He delivered me out of my afflictions."
In that, there was a prophecy by the Spirit that goes backwards and forwards. Backwards, you're like, "Why is that a prophecy? What's going on there?" In Exodus with the Passover lamb, he says, "…you shall not break any of its bones." As the Passover lamb with the blood over the door with the angel of death. They escape death and went out free. There the Passover lamb, not one of their bones broken. That was Exodus.
Here in the psalms, again, not one of the bones was broken. Then you go to John 19 during the crucifixion, and the Romans are breaking the legs of the thieves just to fast forward the death. They're like, "All right. He suffered enough. It's about nighttime. Let's get on with this." So they would break the legs. They would drop, suffocate, then you take down the dead body. Like, "All right, the spectacle is over."
Well, they get to Jesus to break his bones, and they're like, "Huh, already dead." They put the spear through his side, and out came water and blood. It's because of this prophecy. This prophecy says he keeps all of his bones. Not one of them is broken. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 it says that, "For Christ, our Passover lamb…" This prophecy right here in Psalm 34. God is incredible.
Verse 21: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous…" Now we get the afflictions of the unrighteous. It says the righteous will be delivered. "Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned." Then verse 22. This is incredible. "The LORD redeems the life of his servants…" The Lord redeems.
The word there is nep̄eŝ. It's your soul, your spirit. He is like, "I've got you. This body that is subject to decay, the afflictions, the trials. I've got you. Nep̄eŝ.I've got your soul. You'll never be lost. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus have crossed over from death to life. They'll never be ashamed. They'll be radiant forevermore. We'll be given a new body and a new heaven and new earth, reigning with me forevermore." The Lord redeems the life of the servant.
I think of this culture. We're more concerned about safety than surety. We're all about safety, right, with the air bags and the vaccine and the handwashing. You should get all that. Don't send me an email. That's good. Some lady came to my door. She is like, knock, knock, "You know your kids are playing in your front yard?" I'm like, "Yeah?"
She was like, "They could get kidnapped or hit by a car." I'm like, "Ah, they could." She was like, "Yeah, you should put them in the backyard." I'm like, "No, we're teaching them to… Are they in the street? Lady, you should read less news. It's okay. God's got them." There's this quote in Christianity that says… I think it was written by a really wise man, but I think the quote… It's probably out of context, but I think it's terrible.
It says, "The safest place in all the world is in the center of God's will." Tell that to Jesus. He got crucified. Was he in the center of God's will? Absolutely. It was not safe. Tell it to Isaiah, who was sawn in two. Tell this to Joseph, who was accused falsely of rape and put in prison. Tell it to Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband died at the hands of the Auca Indians.
Tell it to Bonhoeffer, who died in a concentration camp, or Betsie and Corrie ten Boom. It was anything but safe, but it was good. So C.S. Lewis writes in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. You have the child, who represents us, she says about Aslan, who represents Jesus. "'Is he—quite safe?'…'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.'"
It says, "…none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." None of them will be condemned who take refuge in him. We are in debt because of our sin, but if we take refuge in Jesus, we will not be condemned. It says if you reject the free offer of Christ, you already stand condemned. That's John 3.
You stand condemned before an almighty God. "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…" But if you place yourself under Christ, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." It goes on to say Christ crucified, not only that, but raised. Who is there to condemn? Christ, at the right hand, intercedes with us.
We have a tree fort in the backyard, and I needed a slide. So I got this really bad one off of craigslist and I pieced it together. My kids saw me doing it. I get up to the top. I was going to be like hero dad, and they're going to zip down it. They're like, "Uh-uh. It's like 10 feet off the ground." They're like, "We're not getting on that slide."
I'm like, "Come on, go!" They're like, "No, no, no, we're not going." So I was like, "Ah, hang on." I get down, all 6-foot-1 in this tiny little kids' slide. It's like one of those loop-de-loop things, but it's a black hole. They don't know. I scoot in, go down the slide, and pop out the other side. I'm like, "See!" They're like, "Ah!" They're just zip, zip zip zip zip, all day. They go down it now in their rollerblades. They love it!
It's what Jesus did for us. They're here in a cave. David is singing this psalm. "Take refuge in the Lord." Jesus goes into the cave of the tomb to conquer sin, death, and Satan for you! He went into the cave first so that when you have to go into the cave of suffering or affliction or death, you'll know you're coming out the other side!
It's going to be good! It's not going to be bad. This is not the end. There is more to come, and he will see you through. He is sovereign above the storm. He will give you joy in the storm. That's what he does. He came out the other side to say, "See? It's good! The Lord is good! Taste and see." So stand and magnify the Lord and exalt him with me together because he is so good.