As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving, Psalm 34 is a wonderful example of praise, adoration, and thankfulness to our magnificent and awesome God. It is an acrostic Psalm meaning each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Verse 1: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Bless: To praise, to celebrate, to adore; act of adoration. The word comes from the primitive root “to kneel.” First used of how God blessed man and woman, blessed Noah and how God blessed Abraham. We need to praise him for all His blessings. David promised to praise God without ceasing. Praise God because of His words and works.
To bless God is an exclamation of gratitude and admiration.
Have you fallen in love with God? Are you swept up in emotional reverie when you consider Him? Do you find that you pursue God for His sake?
We bless, celebrate, praise, and adore Yahweh. What does the name Yahweh mean?
Yahweh- The Name of Yahweh: An Eternal Indictment Against All Idolatry
Yahweh: He Is
At the heart of every idol is doubt about the character of God. God revealed in His name that we never have to doubt His love for us, and His desire to help us in all life’s difficulties. In this magnificent name Yahweh, God is telling us He is everything we will ever need. The voice of God declares in every generation “I am Yahweh, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to graven images!” (Isaiah 42:8). The name of God, Yahweh, is used over 6800 times in Scripture and perfectly illustrates the character and nature of God. Yahweh is a personal covenant name of promise to the children of God. Yahweh’s name is the pledge and unbreakable bond of faithfulness and commitment to His people. Yahweh means the Eternal, Immutable One. He who was, and is, and is to come. Yahweh is a form of the verb hayah and means to be or to become. Yahweh was, is and always will be alive, active and present.
First of all, the name Yahweh means “He is!” He is everything perfect, good, just and holy in an endless capacity. He has no beginning and no end. He is the everlasting God; the self-existent One, absolutely perfect and limitless in everything He is. A.W. Tozer in Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life says: “God is infinite. We mean by infinite that God knows no limits, no bounds and no end. What God is, He is without boundaries. All that God is, He is without bounds or limits … Only God has no degrees.”[i] God’s love, strength, goodness, mercy, holiness, wisdom and grace are so immense and infinite that they cannot be weighed, counted or measured. These attributes are limitless in quality and perfection. They never diminish, change, or weaken. Everything that God is, is for the benefit of His children. Yahweh is the name that represents a personal invitation to partake fully in everything He is, and to experience the fullness of God in all His manifold characteristics. Yahweh is the very essence and origin of all life. He is the Life-Giver. He is the Creator. He is the maker of every star, planet, and galaxy in the universe. There is no limit to what God can do in our lives. The ancient cultures had thousands of gods for every occasion. But the name Yahweh declares that God is the only one you ever need in every circumstance and season of life. You can be completely satisfied in Him.
Jeremiah 32:17 proclaims that Yahweh made the heaven and earth by His great power “and nothing is too hard for Him!” When Sarah laughed at the impossibility of giving birth at the age of 90, God declared, “Is there anything too hard for Yahweh?” The Hebrew word for “hard” means marvelous, extraordinary, wonderful, surpassing, and beyond one’s power or ability. There is no mountain in life that Yahweh cannot move, there is no obstacle in life that Yahweh cannot overcome, and there is no need in life that Yahweh cannot abundantly provide. Yahweh is the solution, the answer, and the key to everything in life. Nothing is beyond Yahweh’s power. Nothing is above Yahweh’s understanding. Nothing is greater than Yahweh’s ability to act and bring about miraculous results. Nothing is ordinary or mundane about Yahweh! When Yahweh is called into action, it causes one to marvel at the wondrous and astonishing things He brings to pass. Praise God that Yahweh is!
Yahweh: The Coming and Becoming One
Secondly, Yahweh means “He who will be, the ‘Coming One’ or ‘Becoming One.’ We have the assurance that God never changes. What He is today, He will be tomorrow. He is the same glorious, perfect and limitless God yesterday, today and forever. Yahweh is the “Coming One,” always ready to come to the rescue and deliver His children from any enemy, problem, and oppression. He is ready to intercede with all His might when we call upon His name. He will come like lightening to fight all the battles of His beloved sons and daughters if we will only turn to Him. Yahweh is also the “Becoming One.” God becomes whatever is lacking in our time of need. God is the “Coming One” ever ready to rescue and deliver His children from everything that holds them in bondage. He is always ready to abundantly provide for their needs and bring them into the land of His faithful promises.
Yahweh as the “Becoming One” is the great “I Am” who says I am whatever you need at any point in your life. Yahweh wants us to remember that this is His very nature to be for us and meet our needs. Yahweh invites us to fill in the blank for our need. Do we need strength? Then He is our strength. Do we need healing? Then He is our healing. Do we need deliverance? Then He is our Savior. Do we need peace? Then He is our peace. Do we need provision? Then He is our provider? Do we need courage? Then He is our courage? Do we need assurance? Then He is our confidence? Do we need comfort? Then He is our comforter? Are we tired? Then He is our rest. Are we fearful? Then He is our refuge? Do we need love? Then He is our love. Are we depressed? Then He is our joy. Are we hungry? Then He is our Bread of Life. Are we in darkness? Then He is our light. Are we in bondage? Then He is our freedom.
Do we feel worthless and downcast? Then He is the lifter of our heads. Do we have fears, worries and anxieties? Then He is our burden-bearer. Do we need solutions to life’s problems? Do we feel that the pressures of this life are crushing us under their weight? Then He takes the weight on His shoulders and becomes our Liberator. He is our solution and answer to ever single dilemma, circumstance and challenge we will ever face in this life. We do not need a thousand idols. We only need Him. He is the ever-flowing fountain of life and river of living waters that will sustain us all the days we draw breath on this earth. The Psalmist declares that Yahweh is the only God he will ever need. Now we see why our heart should be full of praise for Yahweh. What an awesome God.
My soul wait thou ONLY upon God, for my expectation is from Him. He ONLY is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation, and my glory: the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God. (Psalm 62:1-2 KJB, Cambridge Edition)
At all times: continually, in all seasons, at every opportunity
Praise: song of praise, a hymn, a celebration, unhindered praise. “Praise” is really genuine adoration and thanksgiving due to the worth of the object. Praise magnifies the Lord.
Psalm 40:3a: He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Amazingly, praise is not an automatic human response to life. Perhaps it should be, but it seems that most of the time we are caught up in the necessary, but trivial and we simply forget the fact that our reality is necessarily dependent. We forget that being alive is the hallmark of His grace, that having our lives extended for one more day is mercy manifested. We become occupied with email, work schedules, commuting, meals, children, washing, ATMs, bills, coffee and all the thousands of insignificant activities that prevent us from recognizing life granted to us today. So we need to stand in front of the mirror and chide ourselves to bless the One who is really responsible for our very being.
Continually: always, constantly, perpetually-Daily
This much is clear. Life is not entitlement. Even life’s most basic needs are the gifts of God. It is not that we are to be content with only the most basic elements of life. Rather, we are to acknowledge that everything, even the necessities, come to us as gifts. When we think of this part of the verse, the word for “daily” begins to make some sense. We are part of the fellowship of the redeemed. More than anyone, we know that our basic needs must come to us one day at a time. We are healed for this day. We are helped for this day. We are whole for this day. The basic necessities of our lives cannot be stored up for tomorrow nor appropriated from yesterday. We can only live daily. One day at a time.
Be in my mouth: What is in our mouth daily? What do we speak forth? Blessing or cursing? Love or hate? Joy or dismay? Humility or pride. Our mouths should be an organ of praise and gateway to thanksgiving.
Verse 2: My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
Boast: to shine, to flash forth as light, to make a show. Permanent affection of the mind-to exult in the possession and enjoyment of some admired and beloved object. What does your soul boast in? What gives your soul ultimate enjoyment?
This word describes sincere devotion and thankfulness to YHVH.
“Boast” is the Hebrew verb halal. You see the root in halleluyah, or perhaps in tehillah (rendered “psalm”). The same word we usually translate “praise” is also the word for “boast.” This helps us understand that the principal meaning is not found in personal self-acclaim but rather in sincere and heartfelt thankfulness. When YHVH tells us to “boast” in understanding and knowing Him, our boasting is praise of Him, not us. Intelligence, wealth and power mean nothing in the face of the King of the Universe. To Him we owe our lives and to Him we offer boasting praise.
Take a good look at the sky every time we feel as if God isn’t paying attention to us. We could remind ourselves that the presence of light is an ongoing praise operation. That would take us back to the opening creative act and hopefully reinstate our confidence that He is watching over things. Doesn’t the Bible suggest that God is light? I wonder if we ever though that John might have translated his Hebrew worldview as “God is praise, and in Him is no darkness at all.” When you open your eyes in the morning, when you first see the light of day, what comes to mind? Is that a moment of praise?
Psalm 44:8: In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
Verse 3: Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Magnify: to make great; to enlarge, to increase, to be greatly valued, to make much of. How awesome it is to magnify Yahweh rather than the things of this world. What do we make great, enlarge and greatly value in our life?
Psalm 69:30: I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Exalt: to be set on high; to be exalted; to lift up; to rise up to the highest degree. To exalt with praises and celebrate. What do we exalt and hold high in our lives? What do we look up to? What do we set on high?
Psalm 57:5: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Magnify and exalt together in the community of believers.
Verse 4: I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Sought: To seek with care, to tread a place with the feet, to diligently inquire, to frequent. We are to show a trampled path to the heart of Yahweh all times and in all circumstances. This word is never used of seeking someone whose location is unknown. We are seeking here deliverance, help, restoration. It is serious purposeful searching, not confused wondering or wandering.
Psalm 105:4: Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
We should seek to be in His presence continually. He will give us His strength to battle any circumstance. The problem is we seek so many other things first: people, drugs, booze, success and self-exaltation. God looks for those who seek him-Psalm 14:2; Romans 3:11, but the model of those in the world is that they do not seek Him. People turn aside and seek worthless things that cannot deliver.
Deliver: Primitive root means to snatch away, to rescue, to recover, to take away and strip off. We cannot deliver ourselves, ever. The cry of this world is there is none to deliver, there is none to rescue! No idol can ever deliver (Isaiah 57:13). God has the power to deliver, but so often we do not seek His deliverance, we turn to another person or thing that ultimately is helpless to deliver. You deliver me, O Lord! I can’t do it myself. Deliverance is God in action. God desires to deliver. He wants do deliver because we express our desperation for liberation. If it is left up to us, there is no deliverance. He removes the oppressor, He removes the fear; He overcomes the oppressor that has held us captive. God brings the full victory against every false deity, every bondage, and every encasing fear.
Jeremiah 1:8: Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.
Verse 19: They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.
All my fears: all=whole, the totality, every single one; not one is missed.
Fears: Fear, terror, that which is dreaded, horror. This is a stronger word for fear, not the usual Hebrew word for fear and describes terror itself. Night terrors, the nightmares, Maybe you can handle the ordinary worries of life. Maybe you can rise to the occasion when something unexpected presents itself, but when it comes to terror, no one is really ready. A form of this word is used in Jeremiah describing “terror on every side.”
I suspect that the worst of all terrors come from deep inside of us. We are powerless over them because they reside in the darkest corners of our lives. They are megurot—and God is the only deliverer. Proverbs 10:24 says what the wicked dreads will come upon him, but God’s deliverance is so complete that only He can deliver from every single terror that often reside deep within us and keeps us in bondage. Yahweh can and will set us free if we only diligently seek Him above all else.
2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
We cannot allow terrors and fears to seize our minds and hearts. The world promotes fear and terror. It is its message behind everything. God’s clear message and it is the message of the gospel is deliverance, full and complete, where not one fear is left behind; not one fear isn’t obliterated.
Verse 5: Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Look: To look intently, to behold, to consider, to regard highly with respect.
What to our eyes gaze upon? Where are eyes directed? What are we looking at? Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and all its ways and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). The eyes are the gateway to the heart. God created the eye so that we can behold Him. We need eyes that see! Only God can open our eyes so that we may see. We need to fix our eye on His ways (Psalm 119:15). We need to lift up our eyes to the heavens (Isaiah 57:6).
Radiant: The primitive root means to sparkle, to give light, to beam. Jeremiah 31:12 says we are radiant because of the goodness of the Lord. What do people see when that see your face? Radiance or gloom? Joy or dismay? We should radiate joy in a tangible visible way. Radiance comes from the glory of the Lord, the spirit of God that lives within us. People see should see the glory of the Lord in our faces. No blush of shame.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18: But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
I tell you truly, and I exaggerate not, I tell you truly, that these who are with God, who live in the presence of Jesus, somehow shine in their souls, in their eyes, and in their lives. Whatever kinds of people they are, and however strange and unusual and different, and whatever their backgrounds, if they have been with Jesus, they shine.
Ashamed: Disappointed, shame, be brought to confusion, to be confounded; shame arising from disappointed hope. Only in God there is hope, in fact in Romans 15:13, He is called the God of Hope. God is not the author of confusion. When we trust in Him, we will never be confounded or disappointed. Only the idols of this world bring shame, confusion and chaos. Unbelief is the starting point of all disappointment.
Romans 10:11: For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.
Verses 6-8: This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Poor: Needy, humble, afflicted, weak, helpless
All his troubles: all=every single one. Troubles means anguish, adversity, affliction, distress, tribulation. When God is not among us, troubles will devour us (Deuteronomy 31:17)
Psalm 22:11: Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Trouble is always near and lurking. None can truly help you with trouble but God.
Psalm 9:9: The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Encamps: Pitches a tent, abides for a siege
The angel of the Lord surrounds God’s people with divine protection.
God fights our battles and surrounds us with His power, strength, and love. As Michael Smith says in his wonderful song: “It may look like I am surrounded but I am surrounded by you. This is how I fight my battles.”
Fear of the Lord: The fear of the Lord is such an in-depth response to the magnificence of God it is difficult to give an exact definition. It is to have a deep, heartfelt, holy, reverential awe, respect, and reverence for God; it is to have a deep reverence and respect for His holy standards of life; a deep admiration and sense of awe and wonder of His attributes, His power, His love and mercy, and His greatness; it is to have an acute awareness of the presence of God in all His glory that produces in me a sense of awe and calls forth from me honor, respect, and reverence. It is to be in such a holy union with God that we love what He loves and hate what He hates and dare not even think to disobey Him. It is also holy respect for the judgment of God and a sense of trembling in awe at all of his glory and greatness. It is a deep understanding that God has entrusted much to us and we are accountable to God for our actions and the use of the divine abilities He has given us. It is to deeply understand and stand in awe of the majesty of our God. It is to be forever committed in heart to His standard of righteousness and His standard of justice and refuse to allow any impurity or contamination from the world into our hearts. It is to be humbled completely and awed by His holy presence that brings us to our knees before Him.
Taste and see that Yahweh is good. Our invitation to the world. Every day we must and see and realize and recognize God’s goodness. Nothing in this world compares to the goodness of God. Nothing. Nothing is truly good but Yahweh. God is good in so many ways. The gospel is the good news, it originates from God’s goodness to the human race rooted in his grace and mercy. Never forget God is good. There are no limits to His goodness. There is no boundary to His overflowing goodness. His entire creation rings out day and night that God is good. It is who He is and it is what he does. Everything God does is good starting in Genesis 1 and exploding through His word ending in the goodness revealed in the new heavens and earth. Don’t ever be deceived that God is not good.
There is no greater revolutionary truth for our day and time than the truth that God is good. It is revolutionary because even though we have heard those words many times, they are rarely believed in the depth of our hearts. As a generation, we have lost our faith in the goodness of God. As a generation, we have become disheartened in our understanding of the true character of God. This has often led to the conclusion that there is no God, or that God doesn’t care, because of the evil we see in the world. Or we may believe that God is good sometimes, or that God is good with exceptions, but the truth is that God is good always.
Nahum 1:7 (The Message):
God is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help, no matter how desperate the trouble.
Verse 9,10: Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Lack: deficiency, impoverishment, to have want of anything, need, poverty
Yahweh supplies all our needs. He is Yahweh Jireh, the Lord who provides.
Philippians 4:19, 20: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 145:15: You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Let’s return to the simplicity of life where praise, adoration, exultation, magnifying, and thanksgiving of Yahweh is the solid core and foundation of everything we do.
Psalm 63:1(a) (The Message Bible):
God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you!