The heading of Psalm 34 is the fourth of thirteen such headings that match the poem with an event in David’s life. The story comes from 1 Samuel 21.
It is a measure of David’s desperation that in his run from Saul, he would seek to find shelter among Israel’s bitterest enemies. Perhaps David thought he would be received as a valuable double agent against Israel. In any case, David is not greeted with enthusiasm and as has been usual in his life recently, he escapes by the skin of his teeth.
In the story, David has lost everything: position, job, best friend, wife and mentor. As Charles Swindoll notes, it is here that David loses his self-respect.
But David does not lose his faith. Troubled and broken hearted, David recounts his cry to the Lord and the Lord’s deliverance. It is due to the fact, so he writes, that the angel of the Lord camps around those who fear the Lord.
Psalm 34 has two invitations. First, to count on God: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” David has, and has not been disappointed. Second, the invitation is to be the kind of person God hears: one who “fears the Lord” (vs. 7), takes refuge in Him (vs. 8), seeks God (vs. 10), whose high standard of ethic is exemplified by his speech and life (vss. 13-14). In other words, the “righteous man.”
One should not presume that righteous means sinless or perfect. It is the person who walks with God and when he strays, recognizes his straying and returns to God’s path once more (vs. 14).
May we too find such refuge in the Lord that it compels us, like David, to call our friends to refuge with us in the shadow of God’s presence.