Recently, I was telling my aunt that Psalm 34 was one of my favorites. She told me how it was also my grandmother’s favorite psalm. She told me,
“When I was with Grandma on the last evening of her earthly life (May 11, 2001), I asked if she would like me to read something from the Bible. She promptly replied, ‘Psalm 34.’ So I read the Psalm (with her roommate listening), tucked her in and kissed her good night. That is a tender memory for me.
I was reading Psalm 34 again two nights later, after your dad and I arrived in Boise. I fell asleep with my Bible open to that page and it’s still wrinkled today, because the cat came and laid on my Bible!”
Let’s spend a few weeks looking at this precious Psalm:
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together. (Ps. 34:1-3, NKJV)
To bless means to honor something as set apart and special. At ALL times I need to remember God’s holiness and worship, exalt, and glorify God because of all that He is. When I see the word “praise,” I think of applauding the God of the universe because I’m so amazed at what He has done. The convicting thing is that I’m supposed to do this at ALL TIMES. His praise is to CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.
I fail at this! I think that’s because our mouths spill out the leftovers of what our hearts are thinking about. My heart is the “worry-wart” type, and I tend to plot, plan, make lists, agonize over and debate all kinds of things in my heart. However, if I were blessing God — listing His fabulous attributes such as His goodness, His power, His omniscience, His mercy — and praising Him in my heart, then I’m sure His praise WOULD be continually in my mouth.
In fact, verse 2 hints at this idea. “My soul shall make its boast in the LORD.” In my soul, I need to be boasting about God. If you’re a list-maker like me, then you might enjoy adding a list of everything God has done for you to that spot by your kitchen sink. Maybe, instead, you like to scrapbook and could make a “Look at What God Has Done” book for your family. Maybe you could take a pad of Post-It Notes and boast about one fabulous work of God on each little sheet, then stick them all over your house as reminders.
No matter how you go about doing it, as you teach your soul to make its boast in the Lord, soon you’ll find praise spilling out spontaneously onto your tongue. The humble people around you will hear of it, and they’ll be lifted up, too!
I first studied Psalm 34 in 1988 (I’m getting old…) when my cheerleading coach decided that we cheerleaders needed to dig in and study God’s Word if we were really going to have unity on our squad. She required us to memorize the entire chapter before the end of the season, and in addition, she assigned us each several verses that we had to study and then present to the other members of the squad. Verse 3 became our “Verse of the Year,” and we would recite it together before and after every game. Strange stuff for cheerleaders, huh…
But this chapter was immensely encouraging to all of us mostly because our coach was a living example of these verses. Whether you were around her for five minutes or five months, you couldn’t help noticing how she steered every conversation around to God and His goodness. She literally had God’s praises continually in her mouth. I got to know her quite well over the next five years, and I don’t think she woke up each morning and decided to be a fanatic Christian. 🙂 Rather, she spent so much time in private, dwelling on God and His Word, she couldn’t help that it spilled out into every other area of her life.
And that is my personal prayer as well. In fact, verse 5 says that when we look to Him, our faces become “radiant.” The precious presence of God radiates literally out of our faces, and those around us can’t help but notice our sweet attitudes, our peaceful expressions, and our joyful perspectives. It gives me goosebumps….
So, I challenge you, “Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” Let’s make it our goal, over the next few weeks of studying this Psalm, to learn how to be so close to God that He becomes HUGE (magnified) and LIFTED UP (exalted) in the eyes of every one around us. Let’s learn how to radiate for Him.