Laughter erupted as the Spencer family finished a rowdy game of charades.
Jill, a neighbor girl who had joined them in the game, got ready to leave. “I wish my family liked each other better and had fun together like yours does,” she told Cara. “We argue and fight all the time. Why is your family so different?”
“I guess we’re just happy people,” replied Cara with a shrug. “And maybe we work harder at it than some people do.” Noticing her mother looking at them, Cara hurriedly told Jill goodbye before Mom could say something embarrassing.
That evening, Mom served a chocolate cake for dessert. “This tastes great, Mom!” exclaimed Kirk, Cara’s brother. “You should make it more often.”
“It’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted,” agreed Dad.
“Thank you,” responded Mom. “I appreciate your compliments.”
“Mom! No fair!” complained Cara. “You know I . . .”
“Oh, that’s right.” Mom interrupted her. “You made this cake, didn’t you?” Turning to Dad, she added, “Cara made this cake today all by herself.”
“You did, Cara?” Dad asked. “It’s delicious!”
“I don’t care who made it,” Kirk mumbled through a full mouth, “as long as I get to eat it.”
After eating, Cara and her mother cleaned the kitchen. “You know, honey, I have to admit something,” said Mom as she put the rest of the cake away. “I deliberately accepted the praise and compliments you deserved–but only temporarily and for a purpose.”
“You just wanted to tease me, right?” Cara asked. “That’s okay, Mom.”
“Actually, I want you to see that you did the same sort of thing today,” said Mom. “I heard you and Jill talking, and you didn’t tell her the real reason our family is different. The peace, love, and joy–and the fun–in our home isn’t just because we work hard at it. God deserves the credit for that–not us.”
Cara bit her lip. “I know, but . . . Jill wouldn’t understand that,” she argued.
“Maybe; maybe not,” said Mom, “but give God the credit He deserves.”
“So I should tell Jill it’s because of Him–whether she can understand or not?” Cara asked thoughtfully. Then she smiled and added, “Maybe she’ll want to know more about Him. That would be good!”
The background of Psalm 34 is found in 1 Samuel 21-22. In jealousy, King Saul pursued David and threatened his life, forcing David to live on the run. In one of the loneliest times of his life, David sought refuge with the Philistines. When they realized who he was, he feigned insanity to protect himself.
David was poor physically and without the help of others. He was also poor spiritually. He was weak and aware of his sin. In spite of his poverty, he sought the Lord. God heard him and delivered him from all of his fears. Only through prayer can fear be overcome by faith.
Psalm 34 is a witness to God, who has delivered David from adversity. David has seen God’s presence and power. This power has led David to respect God and praise God. Life is found and lived in the praise of God. David found life in praising God, and so can we.
David is calling us to verbal, public, personal praise. He is calling us to worship that lifts our hearts and draws us into a spontaneous, robust chorus of delighting in the name of the living God. The angelic vision in the Psalm creates proper respect and reverence before God’s glory. Those who have seen God’s glory will find that the best reaction is to respect God.
To bless the Lord at all times comes easily in times of prosperity, but David sang this psalm in the midst of a time of adversity. When God’s people are afraid, they should worship God. When they are filled with panic, it is time to praise God. When worry overwhelms God’s people, the time for worship has arrived.
The phrase “the angel of the Lord” appears only three times in the Psalms. Jesus appeared on several occasions in the Old Testament in this form. Not only has God promised to deliver His people, but He has also promised to give them the Deliverer! Jesus Himself draws near to believers in their fear.
The call to “taste and see that the Lord is good” is the call to test. We are not just to believe in God’s goodness. We are to experience it. That goodness includes both His deliverance and His gifts. When we experience God’s goodness we will not lack any good thing. Even when the devil attacks us, God will protect us and provide for us. God wants to deliver us from any and all fears that may be plaguing us today. He promises to keep us in perfect peace when we keep our minds on Him.
In the 1970’s a popular commercial for a brand of cereal introduced a catch phrase that is still popular today. In the ad we see three brothers at the breakfast table. Two of them did not want to try this new cereal. The youngest of the three, who was the pickiest of the eaters, was given the bowl of cereal. After a moment of hesitation, he began to eat the cereal-and actually enjoyed it!. The other two brothers exclaimed, “He likes it! Hey Mikey!”
Today we still refer to this commercial when we say phrases like, “Try it! You’ll like it!” or “Mikey likes it!” To a picky eater, trying new foods can be an unpleasant experience and foods are often rejected. Those that are not picky find this behaviour ridiculous. We find ourselves In similar situations today when we try to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with non-believers. We know that we have a delicious platter that is filling and delightful to the taste, but most non-believers are reluctant to try it for themselves and ultimately reject it.
What is our relationship to God? Do we believe He is good? Do we believe we are blessed when we take refuge in Him? Do we expect God’s goodness in our lives when we wake up in the morning? Do we set the tone of the day for success and every blessing with our words? Life and death are in the power of our tongues. That’s why we should praise God throughout the day.
Following Christ is often a series of sweet and successful errors. Some of these errors will seem even more bitter than sweet, but if we understand that we are on a journey with Jesus, following closely to Him and reaching for the dream He has placed in our hearts, then we are right where we belong. When we shift our perspective to focus on God, faith will rise in our hearts and we will live knowing the truth that we serve a big God who can do big things.
So what does it mean to praise God? It means to be thankful and seek to be aware of God’s presence in every situation. It means looking for God in unexpected places. It means being God’s eyes, ears, hands, and feet in the world. It means letting God use us to tip the balance from death to life, from hate to love.
How do we praise God? We praise Him with our voices-either speaking or singing. Genuine worship and praise allow God to fill our hearts and minds with His presence. How do we magnify God? We do this when we share the stories of how He has worked in our lives. Our lives aren’t perfect, but when He uses our stories for the healing and growth of others, that becomes part of the redeeming of our mistakes. When we share our own imperfections instead of hiding them, we have a chance to shine the spotlight on Jesus. He has healed our wounded places and changed the ashes of our sins into beauty.
We experience joy when nothing from our past can condemn us or sadden us, when our memories are only positive because we trust God and His goodness toward us. We can never give to God more than He has given us.
As we love God, experience Him and allow His life to fill us, His personality changes our personalities. The timid become bold, the bold become patient, the patient become fierce, the uptight become free and the religious become good. They look to Jesus and become like Him. Loving Jesus helps us to become what we were meant to be.
Who has encouraged you to walk by faith? Have you ever thanked those people for offering life-giving encouragement? Do you remember to give God credit as you accept His blessings? Let friends know that He deserves the praise when things go well for you. Let them know the credit goes to Him when you experience peace even through difficult times. Let them know that He deserves all honor and glory. Give Him credit for watching over you at all times and–as David did in today’s Scripture–express thankfulness for His power at work in your life. Use every opportunity to point your friends to God.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 728)
- Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 13: Psalms 1-72 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1986, pp. 269-274)
- Bruce Epperly, “Faith in a Time of Pandemic-Blessing God.” Retrieved from www.patheos.com/blogs/livingaholyadventure
- Jerry Savelle, “Continual Praise.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Innes, “Try It, You’ll Like It.” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org
- Joel Osteen, “See the Lord.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Joel Osteen, “Constantly Speak.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Leslie Snyder, “A Sweet and Successful Error.” Retrieved from www.homeword.com
- Christine Caine, “Shift Your Focus.” Retrieved from www.christinecaine.com
- Sharon Betters, “Radiant Faces, Part 2.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Amy Carroll, “Finding a Happy Ending to Our Sad Story.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswlakmail.com
- Dr. Charles Stanley, “Expressions of Praise.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
- “Transformation.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Cara’s Cake.” Retrieved from email@example.com