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The "ALLs" of Psalm 34

Updated: May 14

I've been camped out in Psalm 34 for the past couple of weeks. I found myself turning to this familiar psalm one morning, and I haven't left yet.

What the Spirit wanted me to see right away that morning is that God is in control over ALL the troubles of His righteous ones. There are no trials or troubles that escape His sovereign lordship and heavenly jurisdiction. It's not just a handful of troubles here and there that He's able to deliver His faithful ones from. No, not just some. ALL.


No doubt the psalms bring comfort. They settle our tested minds and soothe our troubled hearts. Even amid the most trying circumstances and tumultuous emotions, they guide us to a place of calm and peace, of hope and faith, a place of authentic rest, even while experiencing the hardest realities.

Psalm 34, like all the psalms and all Scripture, gives God's child the needed shift in perspective, crucial for maintaining faith—even joy—as we sojourn through this oft' trouble-filled life.

Five times, David, the Spirit-inspired writer of this psalm, pens the truth that for His righteous child, God is an ALL TROUBLES sort of unfailing God.

First, in verse 4, David says, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." A couple of verses down he declares, "This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles." Then, in verses 17 and 19, we read these words: "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." (italics mine)

If these promises don't settle a troubled heart, I don't know what will.

For myself who recently had been praying each evening with my mother while she was visiting, praying over a journal-page list of realities—fears, concerns, and troubles of varying sorts and degrees—for my family, extended family, and even families of a few dear friends, this psalm brought the needed trajectory shift from heavy burden bearer to that of hope herald. Right now, as I sit in the quiet darkness of early morning and absorb this psalm's words once more, it continues its work of keeping me shifted.

Oh, the transforming power of God's Word! How I need it every day in my life!


For certain, the ALLs of the 34th Psalm are some powerful stuff.

But Psalm 34 is not a promise for the casual believer in God. It's for one who, like David, is a proactive participant in the activities and ways of the Lord. David knew the Lord as the Great Deliverer of all fears and troubles because David proactively engaged with Him.

Consider these words that David (author of many of the Psalms) used in Psalm 34 that describe his pursuit of engagement with the Lord:

"I will extol the Lord. . .I will glory in the Lord. . .Glorify the Lord with me. . . let us exalt his name together. . . I sought the Lord. . .Those who look to him. . .This poor man called. . .those who fear him. . .Taste and see that the Lord is good. . . the one who takes refuge in him. . .Fear the Lord. . . seek the Lord. . .keep your tongue from evil. . .[keep[ your lips from telling lies. . . Turn from evil. . .do good. . .seek peace. . .pursue [peace]. . .The righteous cry out. . .no one who takes refuge in him. . ."

A flawless follower was David? Of course not. Read about his life in I and II Samuel. Yet, when confronted with his sin, David was genuinely sorrowful and repentant. Additionally, David was an authentic seeker, dweller, and worshiper. He was in awe of the Lord, and he feared Him; therefore, the Almighty's presence, power, and peace were given space to manifest within David's midst.

There's no denying that David was a proactive participant with his Creator. He made deliberate choices to stay connected to the Lord, to keep abiding within His presence and favor. And the Creator, the good Heavenly Father, takes notice of such intentional choices. He is, most certainly, a "rewarder of them that diligently seek him," as the writer of Hebrews declares (11:6). Even so, this does not mean a trouble-free life.

Notice that David, or any of the other psalmists, did not communicate that God spares or keeps His children from all trouble. Rather, God, in His unmatched wisdom and sovereignty, within the realm of His intentional will and permissive will, allows hardships in this sin-cursed, trouble-ridden world. But for His faithful followers, as they cry out and take refuge in Him, He proves Himself to be the all-present, all-powerful, all-sufficient Savior.

And when we come to terms with this—when we embrace it for the dependable, never-changing truth it is—it transitions us from a depleted mindset of weariness, hopelessness, and heaviness to one of energized expectancy, faith, and hallelujahs.

This brings me to the other all that God wanted me to see that morning, and that's the all that begins Psalm 34. In my opinion, it's the most superior all in this particular psalm. This all has nothing to do with David's troubles or fears. Rather, it has to do with David's glorification of the Lord. More than likely, David was in the Cave of Adullam when he wrote this psalm (living as an innocent fugitive on the run from King Saul and dealing with insurmountable troubles of all sorts), yet David maintained a worshipful disposition.

Consider his words that open the psalm:

"I will extol the Lord at ALL times; his praise will always be on my lips.

I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together."

(capitalization mine)

Regardless of David's troubling circumstances, which I feel certain he would have changed if he could have, David chose to revere and honor the Lord in his inmost being, which then flowed from his lips. Furthermore, David wasn't only compelled to do so himself, but he encouraged other trouble-bearing souls to do the same. Gathered around David, as narrated in I Samuel 22, were "those who were in distress or debt or discontented" (2), about 400 men total; and David became their commander. So while enduring his affliction, to the afflicted in his midst, David inspired corporate worship. Think about that.

While enduring great pain himself, David encouraged others to praise God amid their pain. Because God is always worthy of exaltation,

It's when we live life in our personal Cave of Addulam and keep daily looking to our Heavenly Father and surrendering all our fears to Him, not knowing when or how He will bring deliverance into our troubling circumstances, this greatly honors Him. When we choose to daily praise, worship, and exalt Him, though we do not know how long our circumstances might remain unchanged, His Spirit cultivates and strengthens faith. The kind of faith that's evident throughout Psalm 34. The kind of faith that keeps us steady, come what may, even in long, seemingly never-ending stretches of trouble-filled times. The kind of faith that inspires others who are enduring through their hard times as well.


When I consider this time in the cave when David more than likely penned Psalm 34, I see a secondary meaning in the description of the individuals who were gathered around David. Scripture communicates they were in "distress or in debt or discontented," and although in a literal sense, these words describe the various hardships these individuals found themselves in, I think it's also spiritually applicable to how we should live life in proactive relationship with our Lord as we sojourn through this life, which is so often filled with its fair share of troubles.

  • In distress. We need. On this sin-fractured planet, we're born into need. We need salvation, need Jesus to rescue us from the bondage of sin and make us right with a perfect, holy Creator. But we're also in need of the Savior every day. We need the imparting of His mind, His character, and His ways. We need His indwelling Spirit, His fellowship, and His Word. We need His people. Yes, we may live on an ever-increasingly distressed planet, but all of our greatest needs are met in Jesus. Indeed, the Apostle Paul (a man who dealt with far more troubles than you or I could imagine) assures us: "And my God will meet all [our] needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

  • In debt. We owe. We owe God everything. He created us, put breath in our lungs, and generously redeemed us through the sacrifice of the Son. While there's no way we could ever repay the debt we owe for the incomprehensible love He demonstrated on the cross, with the Word's guidance and the Spirit's empowerment, we can resolve to live each day in intentional seeking, service, worship, and obedience. We can resolve ourselves like Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

  • Discontented. We want. We were created to want. To desire. To crave. So often, we fill this internal discontentment with all the wrong things—created things that temporarily satisfy the flesh—rather than with the only One who authentically satisfies. But God desires that we desire Him more than any temporary desire the world offers. He desires that we hunger and thirst after His righteousness because as our Creator, He knows this is where joy, contentment, and peace are experienced. He desires that we experience the Savior's words: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).

When we live daily in the acknowledgment that we desperately need God, that we owe our lives to Him, and that He is the only One who can satisfy the depth of longing within, it stirs up daily pursuit, initiates daily communication, and promulgates daily worship.

And then, when at the end of what has been a trouble-filled day or a trouble-filled week or a trouble-filled season—yes, even a trouble-filled life—we will still genuinely believe and confidently declare with David that "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles" (Psalm 34:17: italics mine).

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