# 131 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 34 Unbelievable!

 

Unbelievable! This seemed to be David’s response, when he looked back on particular times in his life, like he does here in Psalm 34. And that was the response of a friend of mine as well as he looked back on his life and began to write his life story. In fact, that is the name of his autobiography which I have just finished reading. It is called, “Unbelievable – Living in the Son” written and published by Graham Bee. Like when we read David’s stories, often mentioned in the psalms, Graham’s story is at times, as Dr Louis Sutton (Int. Director of WEC Int.) says, “unbelievable…[it] is not only the title, but an accurate description of this book’s ‘ride’ with Graham Bee through his life. It is a ride complete with bumps, and turns, and unexpected hardships and joys. But it is a ride where we see at every corner evidences of an incredible, almost unbelievable God…” Recommended reading, “to inspire us and give us courage in our ‘tiny part’ in God’s bigger story.”

So, as David looked back at a particular situation in his life (as recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15) he then wrote Psalm 34 in response.

He began with worship

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

If you read the reference above, then it is obvious that this particular time was a very low period in David’s life. Earlier in 1 Samuel 21 we read of David having to make up a story in order to get some food and weapons as he was fleeing from King Saul, whose was trying to kill him. Then as he fled into enemy territory and came before the King of that land, it says of him that he was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So, he pretended to be insane in their presence. The King then dismissed him, saying to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me?  Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:12-15), and so David, by the mercy of God, escaped from what was a dangerous situation. Not exactly one of David’s proudest moments in life!

In fact, as Blaiklock says, “David looked back upon his grave peril in the court of Achish as one of the disgraceful episodes of his life. Under the long stress of his life in the desert, a hunted refugee, his nerve had broken, and he had endured the dire temptations of treason…It was a day of shaken and diminished faith…Perhaps, too, he was in a trough of depression…[and so] David was reduced to feigning madness…[but then] in later moments of tranquillity David remembered his base subterfuge with shame and this song was his offering of repentance…It is a testimony penned long afterwards, a salutary exercise of recollection.”

Blaiklock continues, “There is no better way of leaching a bitter and damaging experience from the mind than doing with it as David did in this psalm. He committed it to God and turned it into poetry. He used an evil thing for good, and it is the commonest experience of life, if life is lived in the patterns of God’s will, to find pain, suffering, even sin itself, taken by the Creative hand and transformed into something beneficent and good.”  (# 37)

And so, David recalls, firstly, how he responded to this tough situation, and then how God responded. He says:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Not only has this been David’s experience but many believers ever since, including my friend Graham’s. There are many stories worth repeating from his autobiography, but one tells of an experience that he describes as, “without doubt…our [he and his wife’s] fiercest testing time so far.” It recalls a time when he and his family of 3 young children were living in Africa and their 18-month-old son became dangerously ill with “an extremely high temperature” causing “convulsions”. Graham writes, that along with the medical treatment given by nurses, “We lay hands on him and pray: Lord, our son is in your hands. We are desperate. We cry out to you for healing; please touch him and stop the convulsions. We know you are well able to heal, and we trust that you will!” What follows is “days [and nights] of caring, [when] we pray constantly and often read in the Psalms to encourage ourselves in the Lord.” On the fifth day of the illness, having prayed together, “Paul is a gift You have given to us. We have examined our hearts, and we know that, despite the loss and grief we will feel, if it is your will to take him, we will continue to serve you…” That day “Paul opens his eyes slightly…the beginning of a dramatic recovery…We are relieved and thankful.” (Chapter 21 “Paul’s brush with death”)

I have no doubt that Graham’s testimony is similar to that of David’s as expressed in this psalm:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears…
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.

I guess, most of you reading this today have also had such an experience. Maybe, the outcome was not exactly what you had hoped or desired, but as you look back you can see that, as difficult as it may have been, it was “taken by the Creative hand and transformed into something beneficent and good.”

On the other hand, if, reading this, you recognize that this is not your experience of God, then the next words of David are for you:

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.   
(verse 8)

Or as the Passion Translation puts it:

Drink deeply of the pleasures of God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives.

And that especially in times of “grave peril”, “dire temptations” or “fierce testing”.

The Apostle Peter says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Father, truly you are the God who does great and wonderful things in your world. Things that we could simply describe as “unbelievable”! Thank you that in the good times and in the tough times you are with us and we can call upon you at any time, confident that you hear and answer prayer. Help us this day to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Amen. 

[If you are interested in reading Graham Bee’s book, you can email him at  unbelievable.grahambee@gmail.com]

 

 

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