Throughout the history of the church, music has been a powerful means for praising the Lord. A modern classic is the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin, which exults: “From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea, creation’s revealing your majesty . . . / Indescribable, uncontainable, you placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. You are amazing, God.”
Amen! Psalm 34 demonstrates that all times are times to praise the Lord. David said: “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” (v. 1). Praise is an activity in God’s time that it’s always time for, regardless of circumstances. So the psalmist invited others to join in: “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (v. 3).
The congregation’s praise isn’t whistling in the dark or a manufactured emotion. The spirit of praise is founded upon God’s loving faithfulness to His people (v. 5). We can count on Him to hear, save, and deliver us (vv. 4–7). A “poor man” knows that he is utterly dependent on God. Even the lion, king of beasts, might go hungry, but “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (v. 10). In response, we are to fear the Lord (v. 9), meaning to show Him appropriate reverence and awe, as well as to delight in Him (v. 8).
We often think of praise as response to blessings, but it’s not limited to that. According to the superscription for this psalm, for example, it was written during a time when David was fleeing from Saul. He went so far as to take temporary refuge among the Philistines, feigning insanity to deceive his hosts (see 1 Sam. 21:10–15). Though David escaped, it doesn’t really look to us like an occasion for exalting the Lord—but Psalm 34 shows otherwise.