Reading: Psalms 34-36
Click on the link for the reading to read the Psalms for this week. As we read, let us not do so in haste. Take time to read each Psalm at least three times: once to understand the content, once as a poem or song to feel the meaning, and once as a prayer to appropriate the Psalm into your life. There will often be a hymn attached at the bottom of the page that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms for the week.
PSALM 34: Taste and See
Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving, but it also is instructional. Verse 11 addresses “children”, and the topic they are being taught is “the fear of the Lord.” The psalmist uses his experiences as an example and then, in verse 8 invites listeners to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” in other words, experience God’s deliverance, salvation, and life for yourself. It is not something the author has to offer, for he is one of the poor and afflicted. Rather, it is something that God offers. The fear of the Lord establishes joy and fulfillment in all of life’s experiences. The psalmist experiences life amid suffering, not beyond it. It is a faith of the kind that Jesus embodied and to which Jesus calls his disciples—faith that knows the paradoxical good news that to lose one’s life for God’s sake is truly to find it (Mark 8:35).
PSALM 35: You Deliver the Weak
This is a long and complex prayer for help. Petitions for the Lord’s help and prayer against enemies are repeated in cycles in a way that shows how closely related the two are. The prayer makes vows of praise to be given when the adversaries are put to shame. It concludes with a request that the petitioner’s deliverance be the basis of praise for his supporters and himself. Rather than attempt to find literary order in the psalm, it may be best to interpret the literary disarray as an appropriate indication of the chaotic conditions that prevailed in the life of the psalmist. This is not a selfish, revengeful prayer, but a prayer for justice for the oppressed. While the enemies “exalt themselves,” the psalmist and his supporters humble themselves and exalt God. The petitions against the enemies represent requests that God reveal God’s character, for God is for the weak and the needy (verse 10). Are we willing, like the psalmist and like Jesus, to humble ourselves in identification with the affliction of others (verse 13)? Are we willing, like the psalmist and like Jesus, to entrust our lives to God, praying all the while, “Thy will be done…deliver us from evil”?
PSALM 36: In Your Light we See Light
These are some of the most wonderful words in the Old Testament. Verse 9 declares “With you is the source of life; in your light we see light.” The character of the wicked is contrasted to the character of the Lord. This psalm is a prayer that may be prayed by those who have seen light in the light of the Lord and know him through the revelation of his loving-kindness. In the face of the threatening shape that evil takes in the character of the wicked, this prayer rehearses and renews the vision of existence as a great system of grace. The light shines in darkness and the darkness does not put it out. The illumination of faith is in itself a gift of life because faith understands that life comes from God.
This is the Psalm in hymn form. Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension.
Here is a video clip of Psalm 36.
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