One of my favorite portions of the Scriptures is Psalm 34, especially verses 1-3: “I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (KJV). The Living Bible puts the verses this way, “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace. I will boast of all His kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and exalt His name.”
My fascination with this Psalm lies in David’s determination to bless (praise, salute) the Lord no matter what. Written on the occasion of being released by Abimelech after pretending to be mad while he was hiding out from Saul in Philistine, David had reasons to bless the Lord. If he was tried as a spy, he could have been killed. Yet the predicament in which he found himself did not shake his desire and commitment to praise. As Bible scholar Matthew Henry observes, “Even when he was in that fright, or rather in that danger only, his heart was so fixed, trusting in God, that even then he penned this excellent psalm, which has as much in it of the marks of a calm sedate spirit as any psalm in all the book.”
So many times we allow our emotions and our circumstances to influence our praise, but here we see the Psalmist making the conscious decision that he would bless the Lord at all times; the two important phrases being “I will” and “at all times.” We cannot always trust our emotions and there are times when it feels like we are passing through endless valleys, and that may be the case for some, but even then we can decide to bless the Lord. To praise or not to praise is a decision that we make. When and how often we praise are also decisions that we make. Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Nothing external to you has any power over you,” and once we realize this, we will also realize that there is nothing, nor no one, that can stop our praising God but ourselves.
We cannot afford to be “situational praisers.” True worshippers see praise as an offering to God for who He is; a celebration of His attributes. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David wrote, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power. Praise Him for His mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp. Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150). It is important to note that we cannot possibly add anything else to God by what we do when we praise. God is and will always be the Most High One, the All-Sufficient One, no matter what we think or feel, or where we find ourselves.
I am with David. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the LORD’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3), so come and “magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Praise ye the Lord