- The setting of Psalm 34:0
Its title, ‘Of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away,’ indicates this song was composed in the cave of Adullam where David had been joined by 400 economic refugees fleeing from the excessive taxes of King Saul’s regime (see 1 Samuel 21:10 – 22:2). It is a song of testimony, based on David’s own deliverance: ‘from all my fears’, ‘out of all [my] troubles’, and ‘out of … all … [my] afflictions’ (verses Psalm 34:4, 6, 17, 19). It is also a song of instruction: ‘listen to me, I will teach you’ (verse Psalm 34:11), the trainees being encouraged to raise their own voices in response (‘Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together,’ verse Psalm 34:3). David was supported by the prophet Gad and Abiathar the priest (1 Samuel 22:5, 20-23).
- The story (see 1 Samuel 21:0, 22:0,)
 The tale of David’s afflictions (Psalm 34:19 – Hebrew for setbacks) actually started in chapter 20 when he was advised to flee from murderous King Saul. He called in at God’s sanctuary at Nob with a few other young men, presumably to seek counsel from the high priest, who visibly trembled on seeing him because a spy of the king was already there. So he bombarded David with questions, to which he replied with a series of lies – of which he later repented (Psalm 34:13). Reluctantly the priest gave the famished group the previous week’s holy bread, and armed David with Goliath’s sword (which he must have previously donated to the sanctuary as a trophy of victory). Because of the menacing presence of Doeg, Saul’s henchman, David continued on the run and mindlessly sought refuge in the palace of King Achish in Goliath’s city of Gath, still carrying the dead giant’s massive weapon! How stupid was that? David’s afflictions increased when the Philistine domestic staff started to chant the Israelite pop song that celebrated David’s defeat of Goliath. Back then David had been oblivious to his latent fears.
 These accumulated afflictions were God’s trigger to expose David’s dormant fears (1 Samuel 21:12). Out of sheer panic David pretended to be insane – not a pretty sight! No wonder Achish sent him packing (verses Psalm34:13-15).
 The troubles that resulted (Hebrew for tight [spaces] and hard [times]) affected not only David himself – he had to hide in the cave, but also his parents – who became refugees in Moab, and all but one of the 85 priests – massacred at Nob with their families and livestock (1 Samuel 22:17-18).
- The song (Psalm 34:0)
 Verses Psalm 34:1-3, David and his bankrupt men (Psalm 34:2; 1 Samuel 22:1) praise and magnify the Lord – their boasting lets people see how great God is.
 Verses Psalm 34:4-18, their cries for help have been answered – their fear of the Lord (Psalm3 4:4, 9) dispersing all their other fears, so now God can deliver them from all their troubles; David soon led them on a rescue mission (1 Samuel 23:1-14). The angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, had rendered Goliath’s sword obsolete (Psalm 34:7)!
 Verses Psalm 34:19-22, God can now remove their afflictions – unlike those of the wicked which are fatal, theirs were only temporary.