The Bible

 

Psalms 34

Study the Inner Meaning

           

1 I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

22 The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

  

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 34      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 34 is a psalm full of the praises of God and calls for our need for humility. The title says it is ‘A psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed’. This psalm and its sentiments would fit very well with feelings of devotion and gratitude to God for being given safety.

The language throughout this psalm is very beautiful, and is written in a consistent style. Every verse in the psalm is a ‘couplet’ in which one thing gets said and is then repeated in a different way. This style of writing actually has a spiritual meaning, because one part relates to what is good and the other part to what is true. This duality is present in many places throughout the Word. (Sacred Scripture 80)

The Psalm begins with the idea of never-ending praise. Spiritually, expressions in the Word of time and duration are about our enduring acknowledgement of the Lord, and the way in which this continually leads us and shapes our thoughts and actions, even when we are not consciously thinking about Him. (Read more about this in Arcana Caelestia 4814.2, and in Arcana Caelestia 5253.)

After this comes the idea of the greatness of God and of our own consequent humility. We boast, magnify and exalt the Lord, and the humble hear and are glad. The word for ‘boast’ has the meaning ‘to praise’ which can mean praise of myself or of another, in this case, the Lord. Spiritually, the link between praise and humility lies in the universal truth that, as we praise God, we lose self-centredness. We become truly aware of our dependence on the Lord. (See Divine Providence 42.)

The next few verses carry the idea of our need to seek the Lord and keep turning to him - an action on our part which brings the Lord to us to deliver and save us. The truth is that the Lord is always present with us and does not leave or move from us. But from where we stand, we can and will lose our sense of Him. We need to focus, to become aware of him and bring ourselves back into dependence on him. (Divine Providence 91)

This section ends with a reference to the ‘angel of the Lord’ and deliverance. Spiritually, the ‘angel’ of the Lord stands for the truth we receive from the Lord since an angel is a ‘messenger’. (Arcana Caelestia 8495)

This is followed by the invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Spiritually, to ‘taste’ means to receive truth from the Lord and then to experience its effect and benefit to us. This is the reason why the two words ‘taste’ and ‘see’ are used in this verse. (Arcana Caelestia 4792)

This couplet ends by affirming the happiness – more accurately ‘blessedness’ – of one who trusts in the Lord. (Divine Providence 39)

The next part emphasises that those who live by the Lord shall lack for nothing. It is interesting that this is put in the negative, ‘not lack’ rather than in the positive, ‘be given everything’. This gives a stronger emphasis. Spiritually, it reinforces our experience of how our work to live by the Lord's Word brings a completeness to our personal life, while natural life is inevitably caught up with lacking what we want. (Arcana Caelestia 8939.2)

Verses 11 to 14 are an invitation and a description to choose, live and practise the life of ‘the fear of the Lord’. By ‘fear’ is meant reverence and holiness in a personal and spiritual way, and the examples which are used in this section describe the qualities that such a care for the Lord brings us. This is followed by a reassurance that the Lord’s presence and awareness is always there in our intention to follow and serve him. (Heaven and Hell 218)

The last part of this psalm, in verses 17 to 22, provides strong encouragements of the Lord’s deliverance and redeeming work for those who put their complete faith and trust in Him. ‘He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.’ Spiritually, bones stand for the truths which support and hold our personal life, and here, with the meaning that our spiritual wholeness shall be kept together and be in integrity. (Arcana Caelestia 6138)

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 284


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 376, 3400, 3623, 6367, 9306, 9378

Apocalypse Revealed 306, 323, 365, 376, 527, 862, 939


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 365, 386, 412, 471, 696, 866, 886

Scriptural Confirmations 19, 100

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 48:16, 49:2

Exodus 12:46, 22:22, 26

Deuteronomy 32:26

1 Samuel 1:18, 12:23, 21:11, 14, 23:13, 26:24

2 Kings 20:5

1 Chronicles 16:10

Job 1:21, 4:11, 5:19, 8:20, 33:33, 36:7

Psalms 2:12, 3:5, 5:7, 9:6, 18:7, 23:1, 33:18, 19, 35:27, 37:12, 15, 27, 39, 40, 39:2, 40:17, 50:15, 23, 51:19, 69:33, 94:9, 107:9, 109:15, 112:3, 138:3, 145:19, 147:3

Proverbs 4:20, 24, 7:24, 9:10, 10:3, 7, 12:13, 15:29, 19:23, 22:4

Isaiah 55:6, 57:15

Jeremiah 9:23, 24

Ezekiel 14:8

Daniel 3:28

Amos 5:14, 9:4

Zechariah 8:16, 19

John 19:36

Acts 12:11

Romans 9, 18, 14:19

2 Corinthians 1:10

Ephesians 5:19

Philippians 4:19

Hebrews 12:14

James 1:26

1 Peter 2:3, 3:10, 12

2 Peter 2:9

3 John 1:11

Bible Word Meanings

bless
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

times
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

humble
The word "meek" is used just a handful of times in the Bible, but it is attributed several times to the Lord and is used...

hear
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

glad
To make glad signifies influx and reception from joy of heart.

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

faces
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

ashamed
On a natural level, there are a variety of things that can cause shame. We might be ashamed of physical weakness or ugliness; we might...

poor
The poor, maimed, lame, and blind,' as in Luke 14:21, signify the uninstructed Gentiles who were in lives of good.

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

saved
To be saved or rescued means getting true ideas that we can hold to even in the face of a storm of false thinking. Sometimes...

angel
'A messenger' signifies communication.

Round about
'Round about' denotes the things most distant from the middle, or from good and truth.

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

fear
Fear has various significations according to the thing which causes it. Fear signifies love. Fear, as in Gen 28:17, signifies a holy change.

want
'Want of spiritual nourishment,' denotes a lack of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

lack
'Want of spiritual nourishment,' denotes a lack of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

seek
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

hearken
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

days
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

tongue
In Psalms 5:9, 'the throat an open sepulcher,' relates to evil, 'the tongue speaking smooth things,' to falsity.

evil
'To hurt,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:6, signifies violation and profanation. 'To hurt' as mentioned in Revelation 9:4, signifies perverting the truths and goods of...

lips
'A lip' signifies doctrine. A lip,' as in Isaiah 6:3, 7, signifies the interior parts of a person, consequently, internal worship, where adoration is grounded....

guile
Guile signifies to deceive and seduce for a deliberate purpose.

peace
In ordinary life, we tend to think of "peace" as essentially "a lack of conflict." As a nation, if we're not at war, it's a...

pursue
'To pursue,' as in Genesis 14:16, signifies a state of purification, because 'to pursue enemies' is the expulsion of evils and falsities which were with...

eyes
'Pairs of hands, eyes, etc.' relate to the will and understanding, or to good and truth. The right side to the will or good, and...

righteous
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Cut off
To be cut off, as in Genesis 41:36, signifies to perish.

earth
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

heareth
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

broken
To “break” something creates an image that is much different from “attacking,” “destroying,” or “shattering.” It is less emotional, less violent in its intent; it...

heart
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

many
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

afflictions
Matthew 24:21 mentions an affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be". There, the affliction means the...

keepeth
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

bones
Bones are strong and supportive, providing a framework for our bodies and making motion and action possible. They are also the least "alive" part of...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

Wicked
'The wicked' or 'unrighteous' denotes being not in truth of faith.

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

servants
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Blessings: Blessings from the Lord
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: Come unto Me
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: Holy Is His Name
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Blessings: Thankful for the Harvest
Blessings to say at mealtime as we thank the Lord for the natural and spiritual food that He gives us
Activity | Ages over 7

 Guardian Angels and Our Thoughts
This chart helps you compare the kinds of thoughts and feelings that evil spirits bring to our minds with the ones angels bring to our minds.
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 I Will Bless the Lord Calligraphy
Color the lovely border for quotation from Psalm 34.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Memory Verse: Our Guardian Angels
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Psalms 34      

By Rev. Julian Duckworth

Psalm 34 is a psalm full of the praises of God and calls for our need for humility. The title says it is ‘A psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed’. This psalm and its sentiments would fit very well with feelings of devotion and gratitude to God for being given safety.

The language throughout this psalm is very beautiful, and is written in a consistent style. Every verse in the psalm is a ‘couplet’ in which one thing gets said and is then repeated in a different way. This style of writing actually has a spiritual meaning, because one part relates to what is good and the other part to what is true. This duality is present in many places throughout the Word. (Sacred Scripture 80)

The Psalm begins with the idea of never-ending praise. Spiritually, expressions in the Word of time and duration are about our enduring acknowledgement of the Lord, and the way in which this continually leads us and shapes our thoughts and actions, even when we are not consciously thinking about Him. (Read more about this in Arcana Caelestia 4814.2, and in Arcana Caelestia 5253.)

After this comes the idea of the greatness of God and of our own consequent humility. We boast, magnify and exalt the Lord, and the humble hear and are glad. The word for ‘boast’ has the meaning ‘to praise’ which can mean praise of myself or of another, in this case, the Lord. Spiritually, the link between praise and humility lies in the universal truth that, as we praise God, we lose self-centredness. We become truly aware of our dependence on the Lord. (See Divine Providence 42.)

The next few verses carry the idea of our need to seek the Lord and keep turning to him - an action on our part which brings the Lord to us to deliver and save us. The truth is that the Lord is always present with us and does not leave or move from us. But from where we stand, we can and will lose our sense of Him. We need to focus, to become aware of him and bring ourselves back into dependence on him. (Divine Providence 91)

This section ends with a reference to the ‘angel of the Lord’ and deliverance. Spiritually, the ‘angel’ of the Lord stands for the truth we receive from the Lord since an angel is a ‘messenger’. (Arcana Caelestia 8495)

This is followed by the invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Spiritually, to ‘taste’ means to receive truth from the Lord and then to experience its effect and benefit to us. This is the reason why the two words ‘taste’ and ‘see’ are used in this verse. (Arcana Caelestia 4792)

This couplet ends by affirming the happiness – more accurately ‘blessedness’ – of one who trusts in the Lord. (Divine Providence 39)

The next part emphasises that those who live by the Lord shall lack for nothing. It is interesting that this is put in the negative, ‘not lack’ rather than in the positive, ‘be given everything’. This gives a stronger emphasis. Spiritually, it reinforces our experience of how our work to live by the Lord's Word brings a completeness to our personal life, while natural life is inevitably caught up with lacking what we want. (Arcana Caelestia 8939.2)

Verses 11 to 14 are an invitation and a description to choose, live and practise the life of ‘the fear of the Lord’. By ‘fear’ is meant reverence and holiness in a personal and spiritual way, and the examples which are used in this section describe the qualities that such a care for the Lord brings us. This is followed by a reassurance that the Lord’s presence and awareness is always there in our intention to follow and serve him. (Heaven and Hell 218)

The last part of this psalm, in verses 17 to 22, provides strong encouragements of the Lord’s deliverance and redeeming work for those who put their complete faith and trust in Him. ‘He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.’ Spiritually, bones stand for the truths which support and hold our personal life, and here, with the meaning that our spiritual wholeness shall be kept together and be in integrity. (Arcana Caelestia 6138)


Translate: