Psalm 34:11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
This Psalm as a whole is a treasure, rightly loved by many with various parts of it set to music. It was written by David after a particularly dramatic incident in his life, recorded in 1 Samuel 21, and he wanted to give God the glory. It is a formulaic poem, with each verse starting with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but that doesn’t reduce its sincerity or impact. To me, this verse contains the key to the whole Psalm, the motive for David writing it: he wanted other people to know and rightly relate to the Lord who had saved him. This should be the motivation behind all Christian writing, certainly. Each believer has a salvation story, some more dramatic than others but all meaningful. We aren’t likely to convince someone to commit themselves to Christ without sharing what He’s done for us. Most “personal evangelism” systems are largely academic and theoretical, expressing truth without humanizing it. Any time we share Christ we need to make it personal, sharing who He is to us, and not like an image in a stained glass window. That’s what David was doing here, even if he was using a poetic formula. The first six verses are quite specific that David is speaking from experience, and the whole Psalm has been a blessing to countless people ever since.
I have been a man of words most if not all of my life, and my words have had various effects, some intentional and some not. In recent years I have finally understood that this verse should express the motive behind every one of my words. Sadly, various other motivations still express themselves, but this should be supreme. My words to God are to be praise and gratitude, but my words to people should all be to draw them closer to God. Yesterday I had the privilege of doing premarital counseling with a dedicated Christian couple, and I think we all enjoyed it a great deal. Many words were said – it ran much longer than expected – but I think we were all in closer harmony with the Lord at the end than when we started. They requested another session! Whether I am talking with dedicated believers like them, with total unbelievers, or anything in between, my motive should be to show them God and teach them to draw closer to Him, however close or far they might be at the moment. That is both a high privilege and something that is impossible if I rely on myself. I can talk on and on, but unless the Lord guides and inhabits my words, the results won’t be anything good. However, He has demonstrated countless times that He delights to speak through me, so I am to make myself fully available to Him.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of teaching people to be rightly related to You. May I do it more and more consistently, more and more effectively, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!