The Fear of the Lord
An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 34
Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus said, "This is what I say to my friends. Do not be afraid of them that kill the body. They can do nothing else. I will tell you of whom you should be afraid. Be afraid of him that kills you and has the power to send you to hell. Yes, I tell you, be afraid of him". (Luke 12:4-5) (Hell is where bad people go when they die.)
fear ~ what we feel inside when we are afraid
humble ~ people who do not think that they are important
camp ~ a place that soldiers live in
Saul was King of Israel. He wanted to kill David. David ran away. Saul followed him. David went to Gath, which was a Philistine city. The king of Gath was Abimelech. He was not a friend to David. David became afraid. He should have trusted in the LORD. He did not, but made a plan of his own. He made Abimelech think that he, David , was crazy. For this reason, Abimelech did not kill David. In those days they thought that it was wrong to kill crazy people. Abimelech sent David away. He went to a cave in Adullam, which was a few miles away. 400 people went to the camp that David made in Adullum. They were running away from a difficult life in Judah. Today we would say that they were refugees. The story is in a Part of the Bible that we call I Samuel, chapters 21 and 22 (see below). In Psalm 34 David thanked God that he was safe
Psalm 34 is an alphabet psalm. There are 22 verses in it. Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. Verse 1 begins with aleph, verse 2 with beth, and so on. We have put verse 16 before verse 15, because this makes it easier to understand. Because it is an alphabet psalm there are a lot of different ideas in it. Other alphabet psalms are 9, 10, 25, 37, 111, 112, 119 and 145.
Verses 1 Ė 3: The Hebrew word for "say good things about" is "baruch". We often translate it "bless". The word "boast" usually means "tell people how great you are" . Here, though, it means "tell everyone how great God is". Some people translate verse 3 as "Let us magnify the LORD". "Magnify" means "make bigger". We cannot make God bigger but we can bring him near to people. We do this by always obeying him. In this way we magnify him.
Verses 4 Ė 6: David was afraid. This was probably when he was with the Philistine king. Davidís crazy plan was working, but he wanted more. He asked God for help as well. God gave David help. David had a safe journey to Adullam. This made the humble people that came to him very happy. They were so happy that their faces shone!
Verse 7: The angel of the LORD is often a name for God himself in the Bible. Some Christians think that it was the angel Michael. He was the special angel of Israel. Jesus said that we all have an angel when we are children. Our angel may give us help. Many Christians believe that our angel stays with us all our life.
Verse 8: Hundreds of years ago the Church used this psalm when they met for The Lordís Supper. Other names for it include The Holy Communion and The Eucharist and The Mass. They used it because this verse says, "taste and see that the LORD is good". We eat bread to remember his broken body. We drink red wine to remember his blood that he gave for us.
Verse 9: If you find this verse difficult then translate it: "Obey the LORD, all his saints. People that obey him will not need anything". The last bit means we will have what is necessary, not what we like!
Verse 10: Perhaps there were lions near the camp that David made for his men. Sometimes the lions were hungry. God will give his people all that they need.
Verses 11 Ė 14: These verses help us to understand the fear of the LORD. We show God that we fear him by obeying him. We also show him that we love him by obeying him! We call this strange mixing of fear and love by the word "worship". Look again at the note on verse 9.
Verses 16, 15 and 17: "The LORDíS face is against" means that "he is angry". He is looking at people that are his enemies. Verse 15 means that he can see and hear the righteous also. People are righteous not because they do good, but because God forgives them.
Verse 18: "A broken heart" means that we are "hurting in our minds, and very very sad". We must remember that God is near us when this happens to us. He wants to share our broken heart. He gives us help when we hurt inside.
Verse 19 Ė 20: Life is often very hard for Godís people. God does not make life easy for them. He does give them help, though. This is what "saves" in verse 19 means. The promise in verse 20 came true for Jesus when he died. The story is in John 19:36. It is at the end of this psalm. The soldiers broke the body of Jesus, but not his bones. God kept the body of Jesus safe. God raised him from the dead 3 days later. For us, "all their bones" means "all their bodies". This is how the Jews said it. God will keep us safe until it is time to go to heaven. Then it does not matter what happens to our bodies, because our spirits (or souls) will be safe with God in heaven. Heaven is where God lives. God will raise our bodies, though. We do not know how he will do this. It will happen when Jesus returns to the earth.
Verse 21: In Australia, the aborigines have boomerangs. A boomerang is a bit of wood. The shape of it is as a letter V. When they throw it away it comes back to them! "Throw" means "make it fly from your hand" The evil that bad men do is like a boomerang. It comes back to them and hurts them. It may take a long time, but it will happen. That is how God punishes people. Read Psalm 7: 15 for an example.
Verse 22: If we have done bad things we must ask God to forgive us. Then he will not punish us. The evil that we do will not come back to us like a boomerang!
1. Look in the psalm for:
a) when there was danger from the Philistines that made David afraid
b) when David made a camp for himself and his men
c) when David remembered the lions that lived near his camp
d) when David remembered what he did not do in Gath
e) when David was sorry that he tried to save himself
f) when God saved David from death
g) What David taught his men (or his children)
a) verses 4, 6
b) verse 7
c) verse 10
d) verse 13
e) verses 18 - 19
f) verse 20
g) verse 11
2. Look for important words that happen more than once in the psalm. The words include: saved or saves; hear or hears; righteous; good; evil; trust
3. How many times does the word LORD happen in Psalm 34?
4. Find out all you can about the Lordís Supper. What else is it called? Does it matter what we call it?
1. Abimelech was probably an old word for "king". The name of the Abimelech of Gath was Achish. Gath was one of the 5 Philistine cities. The other 4 were Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gaza. These were on the coast by the Mediterranean Sea. Gath was 20 miles from the sea.
2. Gath was a town to the west of Judah. It was about 30 miles from Jerusalem. Adullam was between Gath and Jerusalem. A cave is a big hole in the side of a hill. David probably made a camp there. The psalm tells us that the Angel of the Lord also made a camp there. He made David and his men safe.
3. A thousand is 1000. "Tens of thousands" means "a lot of thousands". David tried to make people in Gath think that he was crazy. Crazy people do strange things. David hit the doors to make a noise and to make marks on them. He also made his beard dirty. He let what was in his mouth fall on to it. The servants of Achish tried to stop him by holding him down. They did not kill him for the reason given above.
Here are some parts of the Bible that tell us about angels. The first is something that Jesus said. The other is something in a letter to the Hebrew Christians.
1. Matthew 18:10 Be careful that you do not hate any of these children. I tell you that in heaven their angels are always looking at my Fatherís face. My Father lives in heaven.
2. Hebrews 1:13, 14 To which of the angels did he (God) ever say, "Sit on my right, until I put your enemies under your feet. Are the angels not spirits that help? They are sent to give help to everyone who will become saved".
In psalm 34:7, God sent the angel to give help to David. The angel probably brought others with him. Where David made a camp the angel made a camp. Many Christians believe that angels still come to give to them help. God sends these angels. We do not often see them, but they are there. We must not worship them or pray to them. God tells them what to do, not us.
Here is part of what John wrote about the death of Jesus in John 19.
People that they crucified died slowly. They broke their legs to make them die in a shorter time. We think that the "someone" in verse 35 was John. People that they crucified died slowly. They broke their legs to make them die in a shorter time.
© 2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)
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