David’s complete deliverance (Psalm 34)

Psalm 34:0

Young David probably imagined that he would never feel afraid. After all, he had torn a lion apart with his bare hands on one occasion while tending his family’s flock of sheep.  Another time he had killed a bear. And then famously he had felled the Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath, who had terrified King Saul and his entire army, including all of David’s big brothers. So, he probably thought, ‘I don’t have a trembling nerve in my whole body.’

What happened next is recorded for us in 1 Samuel 21:0, 22:0 [all quotations from the English Standard Version]. When he ran away from Saul he visited the home of Abimelech the priest. But instead of confessing that he was scared stiff, he brazened it out with a whole series of lies. While he was there he got noticed by one of Saul’s inner circle, Doeg the Edomite, who would report his whereabouts to the king. He was given some food, and a piece of the priest’s memorabilia – Goliath’s sword!

After all that David finds himself all alone in Gath of all places with Goliath’s famous massive sword, actually in the palace of King Achish whose servants he could overhear saying, ‘Is not this David the [future] king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands”?  And David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behaviour before them and pretended to be insane in 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” and sent him away.

Well, David then settled for a while in a spacious cave known as ‘the cave of Adullam’ where he was soon joined by 400 other drop-outs – ‘everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him, And he became captain over them.’  According to the title of Psalm 34, he wrote this song there in the cave: ‘Of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech, so that he sent him out, and he went away.’

Now notice several significant details:

[] David is no longer alone and scared.

[] He starts his song of celebration: ‘I will [that is, I choose to] bless the Lord at all times– not just on serene sunny days; ‘his praise will continually [not just now and then when I feel good] be in my mouth. My soul makes her boast in the Lord [never again boasting in Goliath’s sword].’ Then he calls on those 400 rough diamonds to: ‘magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!’ Of course, when we magnify the Lord we don’t make him any bigger than his is, but we do see him as he is and tell other what he is like so that they too see him big, bigger than their circumstances.

[] Now for three matters from which ‘the Lord delivered’ David:

  • he ‘delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4);
  • he delivers the righteous who cry to him for help ‘out of all their troubles’ (Psalm 34:17); and
  • ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).

Earlier he had given in to his fears of what King Saul might do to him. David had been totally unaware of his hidden fears, so God had sent him afflictions – persecution by Saul and his soldiers. And in his panic David had caused many troubles, especially the murder of scores of priests and their families. God kept applying the poultice of afflictions to draw out any more hidden fears during the rest of Saul’s reign. But he mopped up those troubles that David had caused. A prime example of God’s extended blessings is that Abiathar the priest escaped the slaughter and found a new ministry advising David in his walk of faith.

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