July 6, 2020
Daybreak: Psalms 33:1 through 34:22
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:3)
My husband and I live next door to four of our grandchildren. Some months ago when the oldest two were at our house visiting, they found a magnifying glass in my desk drawer. They were curious about what it was, so I took them outside and introduced them to the wonders of inspecting our environment close up. We studied a leaf, scrutinized the root of a dandelion (yes, we do have a few of those in our yard), and examined the fine filament of a spider web strung from our deck to a nearby bush. Flowers that seemed “ordinary” at first glance proved to be stunningly intricate and beautiful when magnified. My grandchildren were fascinated!
From that afternoon on, the two of them have knocked frequently on our door and asked to “borrow” the magnifying glass in order to check out some new discovery in the backyard. They’ve found that the tiniest of items, when observed through the magnifying glass, become awesome! Minute details are suddenly visible, and new beauty appears. I can’t count how many times they have summoned us, “Grandma, Papa, come and look! You need to see this!”
In our focus verse, the psalmist David said, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” What does it mean to magnify the Lord? Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) preached that it meant to “greaten God.” That fits with the original Hebrew word translated magnify, which means “to make large.” Spurgeon was not suggesting that we can make God greater than He is, any more than the magnifying glass will enlarge a flower. Rather, it is our perspective that changes. A close study reveals details we never saw before.
Spurgeon was teaching that we should promote God, lift Him up, and make Him known. When we take time to carefully read God’s Word and do our best to study the heart and mind of God, we make new discoveries about Him. We see Him in a new way. We realize He is bigger, better, more wonderful, and more able to solve any of the problems that face us. And our natural response is to exclaim in wonder, to share our discoveries, and to call others to come and see — in short, to magnify Him!
Today, we can purpose to closely focus on our amazing God — and then be prepared to share our discoveries!
The author of Psalm 33 is not identified, nor is there a title. This psalm takes the form of a meditation, and may have been sung as a hymn of rejoicing and adoration. It opens with a call to worship, and has three main sections: praise to God for His Word and works in creation (verses 1-9), in history (verses 10-17), and in redemptive power (verses 18-22).
The stringed instruments mentioned in verse 2 differed only in form; they were all handheld and plucked with the fingers. The harp is one of the oldest known musical instruments; in that era it had a wooden framework with seven, eight, or ten strings, and was small enough to be easily carried (see 1 Samuel 10:5). The psaltery (or lyre) may have been of Phoenician origin. It likely was slightly larger than the harp and probably provided the lower tones in the music.
The “heathen” referred to in verse 10 were the Gentiles. These were set in contrast to “the nation whose God is the Lord” (verse 12), which was the Jewish nation.
Psalm 34 is classified as an individual lament. According to the superscription, it was written by David after he “changed his behavior before Abimelech.” This refers to 1 Samuel 21:12-13 where David, because of his fear of Achish the king of Gath, “changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad.” An explanation for the differing names of the king is that Abimelech (cited in the superscription), means “my father is king,” and was most likely a title denoting royal lineage, while Achish was the actual name of the king.
Similar in many ways to Psalm 25, Psalm 34 was written in acrostic form with each verse beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. However, a letter (and therefore a verse) is missing between verses 5 and 6, and verse 22 does not follow the pattern. Adam Clarke’s commentary suggests that placing verse 22 between verse 5 and 6 would give the psalm a better flow.
A well-loved psalm, the theme is that of praise for God’s gracious treatment. The exhortation to praise is reinforced by the psalmist’s personal testimony of deliverance from fear, danger, trouble, and affliction.
Verse 7 is the first reference to “the angel of the Lord” in the Psalms. This is the Old Testament phrase for the Divine Presence which is both identified with God and distinct from Him.
Verse 20 is a prophetic look ahead to Jesus’ crucifixion. Although Roman soldiers typically broke the legs of criminals who were crucified in order to hasten death, Jesus’ bones were not broken.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- According to Psalm 34:7, who does the angel of the Lord encamp round about?
- What are some of the results and benefits of magnifying the Lord?
- Singing and playing musical instruments are often referenced in the Psalms. What are some other ways we can praise the Lord?
David recognized that the God who commanded the world into existence is concerned with our everyday needs, and magnified Him with song and public testimony. We want to do the same!