“MUSINGS WHILE IN THE HOLD”
This Poor Man Cried
I WILL bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth … I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears …This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them …The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing …The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry …The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles …Many are the afflictions of the Righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” (Ps. 34:1, 4-7, 10, 15, 17, 19).
Verse 1. “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” When should the believer bless and praise the Lord? At all times, under all conditions, in every situation whether as dark as Egyptian night, or as bright as the noon day sun, the Lord is worthy of constant and reverential praise. This without doubt would be the answer we should expect to hear from all who believe the Bible to be the word of truth. It is also the conviction most feel they hold to in their heart, even if they do not always show the fruit thereof in their daily lives. Still, this question presses for a definition closer to reality. It may be wiser and more helpful to ask the question in a little different form. Such as, how often do believers not bless and praise the Lord? What are the reasons given for not rendering these blessings and praises to God? If these questions and others like them were pondered by the honest saint, would there not quite naturally be room for great shame and humiliation? We live so far beneath our privileges as Christians that it often appears as if we believe only portions of the Scriptures, but not all.
Afflictions are as much the promises of God as are the deliverances. That afflictions are much more painful and trying is easy enough admitted, and situations from which all would prefer to shy away. Where we misappropriate the value of afflictions is that we somehow are deluded into thinking that God has not ordered them for the perfect good of His children. If the redeemed fail to see the Lord in their sufferings and fiery trials, it will result in their not thanking and praising Him in them, but rather they shall murmur, bewail, and complain in an unsavory manner against divine providence. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” is a Biblical precept. The word “many” should be grasped faithfully and understood as ordained of God.
The Psalmist said, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” This he spoke with an understanding and conviction that hardships and afflictions were to be included in the blessing and praising, a truth that was repeated by him in Psalm 63. “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: … and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” (verses 3-5). The Apostle Paul reiterated the same sentiment when he wrote “Giving thanks always for all things unto God,” and “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). Note also 2 Thess. 1:3, 2:13.
Verse 1. “… his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Oh God! what a reproach when we contemplate the many different things which fill our mouth which are not praise. It is a stinging jolt when the times praising God are truly evaluated.
Listen to the wise counsel of saintly Asaph. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.” (Ps. 50:23). The chosen of the Lord are commanded to make His praise glorious. In this action, God is honored and served. Strong faith and grateful praise are two ways that believers know they are giving glory and praise to God. (Rom. 4:20). See also Ps. 71:6, 145:21; Jer. 17:14; Phil. 1:11. We should pray that God would increase both faith and praise in our life each and every day.
Mr. Spurgeon stated, “He who praises God for mercies shall never want a mercy for which to praise.” The inspired writer of Psalm 119 said “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:164). Our lack of praising the Lord is one major factor for our anemic spiritual condition. True praising of the Lord will appear only when by grace believers ascertain what a wondrous miracle has been performed in their behalf. May it please our heavenly Father to strike out our blindness. Look also to the references of praise in the following Psalms. (Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:5; 45:17; 69:43).
One of the admirable fruits of faithful blessing and praising God is the instructive effect it communicates and produces in the hearts of the enlightened. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. David exhibited this characteristic as is seen in verses 2 and 3 of Psalm 34. “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
Verse 4. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Precious promise is this, and a mercy that all believers can claim as their own. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” (verse 19). “God sees there are times in which it is needful for His people to be “in heaviness,” to have their “hearts brought down with grief.” But then there is a time appointed for it in the Divine wisdom, when He will think it as needful to comfort them as before to bring down… Infinite power, that can do all things. No circumstances are so low but He can raise them; so entangling and perplexing but He can unravel them; so hopeless but He can remedy them. “is anything too hard for the Lord?” Be our case what it will, it is never past reach with Him to help it; but then it is the most proper season for Him to take it in hand when all others have given it over. “For the Lord shall judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants; when He sees that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left.” (The Crook In The Lot by Thomas Boston).
The Lord will never mock His children with deceptive promises. His command is seek Him, seek Him always, seek Him only for all needs. The promise is those that seek Him, shall find Him and all they shall ever need. They shall not want any good thing. (Matt. 7:7; Lk. 11:9; Phil. 4:19).
Verse 4. “…and he heard me.” Nothing is quite as thrilling or encouraging as to know you have been heard by God. It changes distress and sadness into joy and pure delight. The fears that once loomed so powerful are soon forgotten and swallowed up by shouts of praise and confident glee. Everything takes on new dimensions and the believer is filled with thanksgiving and wonder. Faith is established and the tried saint is now God’s free man. Such a mercy is knowing that God has condescended to our pitiful cry. It is joy unspeakable and full of glory. Truly it can be repeated, “… verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer; blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” (Ps. 66:19-20).
Afflictions are times when believers are most earnest in their supplications. Most will confess that when there is little or no trouble, we just are not as concentrated in our petitions and pleas to God. The feeling of self-assurance and independence swiftly takes control of our heart, and little by little we are more and more separated from hearty supplication when tribulations are absent. Well might the Psalmist declare, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” (Ps. 119:67). This sounds like a sad commentary with regard to how believers truly are framed (Ps. 103:14), but it is an experience to which all the redeemed can attest concerning its truthfulness. We are all swift to wander and leave the shadow of the Lord’s wings. This no doubt is what necessitates the many affections of the righteous. Some might suggest that saints would never suffer afflictions if they were the way they should be. True enough perhaps, but praise be to God, He does not deal with His people the way they should be, but rather, He deals with His people the way they are.
Afflictions teach the elect to keep near the word of God, and instruct them in the statutes of the Lord. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word… It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Ps. 119:67, 71). By reason of afflictions the redeemed earnestly cry unto God for help, and out of the belly of this hell He in faithful mercies hears His children. (Jonah 2:2). Answered prayer stimulates love in the heart of the saved for the wonderful grace of God which receives their supplications. “I LOVE the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. (Ps. 116:1). “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me.” (Ps. 118:21).
Verse 4. “… and delivered me from all my fears.” When the called of God have that blessed assurance that the Lord has heard them, they know also that He will deliver them and their faces shall be bright and without shame. (verse 5). “To have delivered me from all my troubles had been a great favour, but a far greater to deliver me from all my fears; for where that would but have freed me from present evil, this secures me from evil to come; that now I enjoy not only tranquility, but security, a privilege only of the godly.” (Sir Richard Baker).
Verse 6. “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” He is completely devoid of self-sufficiency and knows thoroughly his impotence. “Poor” is in some translations rendered “this sufferer,” “this afflicted one,” “this humbled one.” All describe a person who trusts none other than the Lord for deliverance, and that by His unmerited mercy.
David’s actions in the presence of Abimelech, or his personal name, Achish, where David feigned himself a mad man because of fear, was a morbid display of unbelief and shameful human weakness. (1 Sam. 21:10-15). After this fall, we should not be surprised to see no arrogance or self-esteem in David as a result of his sinful device. “This poor man cried,” was the correct approach and this should be a pondered and cultivated practice by all the redeemed. The wonderful mercies of God in afflictions are the physician’s ointment to heal sinful soul diseases. “Afflictions to the godly are medicinal. Out of the most poisonous drugs, God extracts our salvation. Affiliations are as needful as ordinances (1 Pet. 1:6). No vessel can be made of gold without fire; so it is impossible that we should be made vessels of honour, unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction.” (A Divine Cordial by Thomas Watson).
Verse 6. “… and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” There is a song which celebrates the merciful deliverances of God’s people. David sang its many different verses on many different occasions. Each note is a tribute to the abundant mercy of the faithful Sovereign. “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies … In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears … He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.” (2 Sam. 22:1-4, 7, 18).
In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. In the name of Jesus the saints shall call, and God will answer, and will be with them in trouble, and will deliver them, and He will honor them, this is His promise. (Ps. 27:5, 91:15). Note also verses 17, 19, and Prov. 11:8). Great comfort indeed are those promises which have their power in eternal mercy and grace.
Verse 7. “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” The angel, singular, is Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate state. Every believer is surrounded by the very presence of Christ. We seem to have a difficult time receiving this in its most open form. If we did, however, we would be much more stable in life and pursuits. Could we see Jesus face to face, it would surely alter our daily manner of life. If we spoke, and He gave an audible answer, our carriage would be much more circumspect. The believer would guard each action with studied care and not allow unhallowed thoughts to seep upon the scene. However, the saved do not see Jesus in the flesh, and we often act as if he does not see us. But, he does, just as perfectly clear as He knows our heart. Our shrouded senses and dull reception of this truth is all too evident in the way we conduct ourselves. Whether we have faith to believe this verse or not is a moot point. The fact is that Jesus could not see any more, or have a greater understanding of man, than he already possesses. His knowledge of every man and every thing is perfect. Were faith able to perceive this teaching with conviction, what a tremendous reformation would transpire. It would be like that in the days of Elisha when a young man saw the enemies of God. He in fear asked Elisha, “Alas my master! how shall we do? Elisha answered and assured the young servant that they that be with us are more than they that be with them. As proof of the statement, Elisha prayed God to open the spiritual eyes of the servant. When God gave him holy and spiritual perception, the young man saw the mountains full of the angelic host, yea, there were horses and chariots of fire round about. (2 Kings 6:15-17). Perhaps we as believers need to pray that same supplication. By faith we need to see Jesus encamped round about us. See also Dan. 6:22; Heb. 1:13-14.
Verse 10. “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” The young lions are those who appear to have the greatest advantage and best success in their endeavors. Little do these stout achievers realize they are in a most tenuous situation. One blast from God and their vaunted estate will crumble like paper mache under foot. “Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken. The old lion perisheth for lack of pray, and the stout lion’s whelps are scattered abroad.” (Job 4:8-11). “The young lions are here the representatives of those who glory in their own strength and resources.” (Psalms by James G. Murphy).
Verse 10. “… but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” This phrase brings to mind the powerful assurance of Psalm 23. The first verse reads, “THE LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” God will supply all the needs of His elect and that by covenant promise. (Phil. 4:19). “Our God is no beggarly Host, nor would He have us partake sparingly of His bounties: “Eat O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved,” (Song of Soloman 5:1), is the call of His largeness to us. “Open thy mouth wide” is His invitation; “and I will fill it” is His promise (Ps. 81:10). How deeply ashamed of ourselves we should be if we have occasion to cry, “My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!” (Is. 24:16). Such “leanness” brings no honor to Him. Such leanness is the consequence of failing to avail ourselves of the rich provisions God has made for us, and such failure is traced back to the defectiveness of our prayer lives: “Ye have not, because we ask not.” (James 4:2). (Gleanings From Paul by Arthur W. Pink).
For the redeemed God is the all in all, and has bestowed His all in Christ to the believer. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (2 Cor. 9:8; Eph. 1:3).
He that gave Christ Jesus for the sacrifice of sins for His people will likewise give all other blessings in Him for His great name sake. (Ps. 84:11-12). David bids all believers to taste and see if this is not so when trusting in God. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” (Ps. 34:8-9).
Verse 15. “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” What a glorious resource for faith to cling to. The God who sees His people with loving eyes and hears their cries with ears that deliver to be merciful. He looks upon those for good who hope in His mercy. (Ps. 33:18). Peter used Psalm 34:15 when writing his first epistle to encourage the saints to pray. (1 Pet. 3:12). Paul declared that the saved of God were heirs and joint heirs with Him and His Christ. (Rom. 8:17). The illustrious Job saw the righteous as kings upon their thrones. “He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.” (Job 36:7). The Old Testament saints had revelations from God that modern day thinkers say they had not.
Verse 15. “…and his ears are open unto their cry.” Three times in this Psalm David relished in this mountain of spiritual bliss, and all to the same effect. I sought (verse 4), I cried (verse 6), the righteous cry (verse 17) and in each case the Lord heard and delivered. Armed with these weapons, the redeemed have an arsenal impregnable, undefeatable and eternal.
Verse 17. “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” The Psalmist would have all to know that God is faithful, and hears their prayers. He is so intent on delivering this message that he repeated the same thought numerous times. Each time he mentions the righteous crying to God, he assures them that God will hear, but this did not satisfy him, he must go further. Not only would the merciful God hear, He would also save and deliver. (Verses 6, 15, 17, 19). “The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” (Ps. 34:22). These injunctions are divine encouragements to spur the saints to try God’s promises. Relinquish fears about your unworthiness, Jesus is worthy, and it is in Him and His name we pray. Despise any thought about the Father’s willingness to answer, it is the Lord who directs us to call upon Him. Cast out doubts about the power of God to perform, and limit Him not. Listen to the command of Jehovah. “… prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10).
God will not disappoint or mislead His children. What God has said, He will do. The redeemed shall never be ashamed of their trust, when that trust is in the God of all grace. “He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Ps. 145:19).
Verse 19. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” “Many” is a word that sometimes can be a most frightful number. Then this same word can also be a comfort which has no comparison. Both of these meanings are advanced in this 19th verse, and are worthy to be accepted as the truth of God. Should a Christian be caught up in sinful actions or desires, he will suffer affliction. “Because they rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.” (Ps. 107:11-13). Read the whole of Psalm 107. If a Christian live a holy life that honors God, he will suffer persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12). Suffering as a rebellious child, however, carries a different stroke than suffering as an obedient son or daughter. May it please God to grant grace and faith that our “many afflictions” will be as a result of pleasing Him, and not all disciplinary chastisements.
Following are some precious thoughts by Thomas Adams and Thomas Brooks. Their messages will bless the hearts of the redeemed:
“When the fire is put under the pot, then the scum appears; so when God delays a poor soul, Oh! how doth the scum of pride, the scum of murmuring, the scum of quarreling, the scum of distrust, the scum of impatience, the scum of despair, discover itself in the heart of a poor creature? …Oh! that baseness, that vileness, that wretchedness, that stink of filthiness, that gulf of wickedness, that God by delays discovers to be in the hearts of men!” (A Mute Christian Under The Rod by Thomas Brooks).
“When a Christian is under the afflicting hand of God, he may well say, I may thank this proud heart of mind, this worldly heart, this froward heart, this formal heart, this dull heart, this backsliding heart, this self-seeking heart of mine; for that this cup is so bitter, this pain so grievous, this loss so great, this disease so desperate, this wound so incurable; it is mine own self, mine own sin, that hath caused these floods of sorrows to break in upon me.” (Thomas Brooks).
“Be our troubles many in number, strange in nature, heavy in measure; yet God’s mercies are more numerous, his wisdom more wondrous, his power more miraculous; he will deliver us out of all.” (Thomas Adams).
“As our mercies, so our crosses seldom come single; they usually come treading one upon the heels of another; And yet, Christians, it is mercy, it is rich mercy, that every affliction is not an execution, that every correction is not a damnation. The higher the waters rise, the nearer Noah’s ark was lifted up to heaven; the more thy afflictions are increased, the more thy heart shall be raised heavenward.” (Thomas Brooks).