Has God rescued you from something dangerous or compromising? About thirty years ago, around the age of forty, I was engaged to be married. As a relatively new believer, I was occupied with many worldly pursuits. God rescued me from an unhappy marriage, as he had rescued me many times before. (In fact, my life’s story might be called “Delivered!”) My fiancé and I had a significant conflict just weeks before the wedding, so we went to couples counseling instead of getting married. The Lord used a wise Christian counselor to bring me to my senses and even overcome some of the unresolved issues that led to my fears of singleness. God rescued my fiancé in a completely different sense. He is a stay-safe person who had been stressing out while I had been squelching my adventurous side, unbeknownst to us both. Our counselor started opening our sessions by asking him: “Do you want to be safe or happy?” Of course, he wanted both, but his happiness was, at that time, linked to a marriage of taking more risks than was comfortable. We are all faced with a similar question regarding our Christian faith: Do we want to be comfortable or joyful? When we are unwilling to be uncomfortable about our sin and weaknesses, we sacrifice our joy. All of our energy goes into avoiding a problematic issue or decision as we unconsciously move through our daily routines. But if we are willing to be uncomfortable (but not unsafe), God will rescue us. After my fiancé chose safety and broke off our engagement, I continued counseling, facing my demons and finding resolution for some of my long-held conflicts. Later I was called by God to the mission field, and my singleness allowed me to serving God and his people in Africa. My fiancé was happily married to a teacher within a year of our breakup. In our passage today, we will see that God attends to the cries of the faithful who are crushed and brokenhearted, delivering them from all their troubles. So the question is, will we will allow ourselves to be crushed and brokenhearted over sin, to cry out to Christ for relief, having already been delivered from sin’s condemnation, and are therefore safe?
God Sees and Hears Our Cries
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:15-19) “[These verses] present a mature and very balanced view of life, pointing to the deliverance God provides for those who fear him but not overlooking the fact that, in spite of God’s favor, the righteous nevertheless do frequently suffer in this life. David himself had troubles; the psalm is a hymn of praise to God for delivering him out of them. So becoming a Christian does not mean a trouble-free existence. P. C. Craigie writes, ‘The fear of the Lord is indeed the foundation of life, the key to joy in life and long and happy days. But it is not a guarantee that will be always easy…It may mend the broken heart, but it does not prevent the heart from being broken; it may restore the spiritually crushed, but it does not crush the forces that may create oppression.’ Deliverance is one thing. Exemption from trouble is another.” (1) “It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (2) This question will beg to be answered throughout the life of a believer: Am I willing to be crushed and brokenhearted over sin and cry out to Christ for relief and comfort, having already been delivered from sin’s condemnation?
God’s Care for the Righteous
“The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:16-17) It’s not as if God is “against everyone that sins; for the righteous are not without sin; they have sin in them, and they do no good without it; but against them that live in sin, whose course of life is a series of wickedness, and they are workers of iniquity; and have no sense of sin, nor sorrow for it, go on in it without shame or fear; against these the face of the Lord is, he shows his resentment, and stirs up his wrath.” (3) God knows we will sin, have trouble, and need his help. That, in itself, is a great comfort, is it not? The more we run to the Lord for help, the greater our dependence on him, our union with Christ, and our submission to the Holy Spirit. We can’t expect to want to approach God with our sin until we’ve tried it a few times, or a few thousand times, in my case. We don’t become skilled at anything until we’ve practiced it. Professional bakers, athletes, and doctors must spend years developing their skills before they are considered competent. As the regenerated, we recognize our unholiness before God and the need to grow through our sanctification. So we cry out to God, knowing that he hears and delivers us, even through difficult consequences of our sins. “The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befall them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from [further] sinning in troubles. (4) Will I turn my heartaches over to Christ, at the expense of my comfort, knowing that he will bring me the peace I desire?
Delivered From Many Afflictions
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (v. 19) “It is only by the righteousness of Christ that men are righteous before God: and upon these the eyes of the Lord are; not only his eye of Providence, to watch over them, protect them, and supply them with good things, but his eye of love; with complacency and delight he looks upon them, as clothed with the righteousness of his son; and it is with pleasure he looks upon them, that being well pleasing in his sight…nor does he ever withdraw his eyes from them…and his ears unto their cry; for though they are righteous, they are sometimes in distress…who, though they are justified from sin, and are saved from wrath, yet have many afflictions; which are ‘evils’ in themselves, as the word may be rendered, and are very troublesome and distressing; and these are great and grievous for quality, and many and abundant for quantity…but the Lord delivereth him out of them all; as Christ was, and all his people will be…And then the sense is, that many are the sins committed by righteous persons; for there are none without sin, in many things they all offend; yet they shall not perish by them, but they shall be delivered from them; as, from the dominion of them by the power of grace, and from the guilt of them by the blood of Christ, and from condemnation for them through his righteousness; so hereafter from the very being of them, and all molestation and disturbance by them.” (5) Knowing that we are safe in Christ, will we not trust him with our most hideous burdens in repentance and relief? What do you need deliverance from? “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” (John 9:31)
Related Scripture: Psalm 33:18; 51:17; 145:18; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 15:17-24; John 9:31; Acts 12:11; 2 Timothy 3:11.
- Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Psalm 34 , Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
- Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Psalm 34:11-22, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/psalms-34.html
- Gill, John, “John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Psalms 34:15-19, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-34.html
- Henry, Ibid.
- Gill, Ibid.
October 14, 2021