The overriding emphasis of Psalm 34 is the urgent exhortation to "Go hard for God," i.e., seek Him, pursue Him, thirst after Him, for it is God Himself who said, "And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). In this psalm this seeking after God is revealed in six ways.
1. Celebrate God! vv. 1-3
Notice several characteristics of David's worship:
First, David's worship is willful - David declares "I will." Worship is his decision, his choice, irrespective of what others may do. He says, in effect, "I've determined to celebrate God. I'm resolved, my mind and spirit are fixed, my heart is riveted on Him."
Second, David's worship is constant - He is determined to celebrate God "at all times."
Third, David's worship is vocal - The praise of God will be continually "in my mouth." Thinking about God and meditating upon God are both essential, but they become praise only when expressed either by singing or speaking.
Fourth, David's worship is boastful - David intends to make his "boast" in the Lord (v. 2a). Worship is bragging on God!
Fifth, David's worship is infectious or contagious - When the humble hear his praise they too will join in (v. 2b). Only the humble will be affected by someone who boasts in God because the proud are too preoccupied with themselves. They have ears only for those words of praise of which they are the object. Humble people are disgusted when they hear boasting in anyone other than in God.
Sixth, David's worship is corporate - He calls on others in v. 3 to join him. "O magnify the Lord with me. And let us exalt His name together."
2. Seek God! vv. 4-7
The primary way David "sought" (v.4a) God was through prayer, as is evident from the response: "and He answered me." The results of seeking God in prayer are many:
First, there was deliverance from all his fears (v. 4b).
Second, there is a radiant glow in the faces of those who seek God (v. 5). People who are prayerfully seeking God radiate the glow of God's presence. They beam and gleam with His joy. His glory is reflected in their visage. The confidence and hope that seeking Him produces lights up their faces. And note well: it is "to Him" (v. 5a) that they looked, not just ideas or principles or theological propositions about God. Hence, they "shall never be ashamed" (v. 5b). God will never shame those who seek Him. He will never humiliate or deride or mock or belittle or demean those who diligently look wholly to Him.
Third, the poor man who seeks the Lord will be saved out of all his troubles (v. 6).
Fourth, the angel of the Lord will encamp around the one who seeks God and will rescue him/her (v. 7; cf. Ps. 91:11-13).
3. Enjoy God! v. 8
We are commanded to "taste" God! Why this word? Why not "think about" God or "remember" God? Why "taste" God? Because God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him. The imagery of tasting makes the point that experiencing God is a pleasant and pleasing and satisfying thing. Experiencing God feels good! We must therefore encounter God personally and not merely theorize about Him in our heads, for like honey, God is sweet to our souls, and like water, God brings refreshment when we are worn out, and like salt, He brings flavor to lives that are otherwise dull and lifeless and bland.
4. Fear God! vv. 9-14
Yes, it is possible both to enjoy God and to fear Him! They are not incompatible. In virtually the same breath we are exhorted to "taste" God's goodness (v. 8) and to "fear" the Lord (v. 9). To fear God is to tremble in the presence of His strength, to acknowledge, in awe and reverence, His majesty. And to fear God is to obey Him (vv. 13-14). Again, note the results of fearing God.
First, God will bountifully supply the needs of those who fear Him (vv. 9-10).
Second, the fear of God brings the abundance of life (vv. 11-12)! David is not talking about mere existence or being, but real living: joy, purpose, delight, significance, fulfillment, etc.
5. Obey God! vv. 15-18
The "righteous" (v. 15) are those who obey God. The Lord can't take His eyes off those who love obedience! He looks on them and gazes on them with tenderness and warmth and delight, lovingly watching their every move. This is no less true of His "ears", for He listens to their every cry, prayer, groan, and song of praise. But not so with the disobedient (v. 16). "He will stamp out their fires, their honor shall be turned into shame, their names forgotten or accursed. Utter destruction shall be the lot of all the ungodly" (Spurgeon).
But God draws especially near to comfort and console and embrace the broken-hearted. To those who often think God is so very far away, He is in fact very, very near.
6. Trust God! vv. 19-22
The key is in v. 22, for these promises are for those "who take refuge in Him." This is simply another way of describing trust. The problem often is that people "trust" God for things He never said He would do. For example, you can't "trust" God to:
a) always do things your way ("Lord, here's my plan; now do it");
b) manipulate circumstances in order to bring you worldly success and ease;
c) do things according to your schedule.
What we can trust God to do is keep us secure in His love, provide guidance and forgiveness (v. 22), always supply us with spiritual satisfaction (Ps. 16:11), to always be there for us (Isa. 43:1-2; Mt. 28:18-20), to always be the same (His attributes never change), and to grant us peace, joy, and purpose in all things (Rom. 8:28).