Thanks Sherri for the summary. Please see below the recording.
We read this psalm (34) during P’sukei d’Zimrah every Shabbat. The Rabbi explained that this was written after David ran for his life from King Saul – he left Israel (where everyone knew and venerated him as their hero for having killed Goliath) and fled so far he reached the land of the Phlishtim – who of course hated him because he’d killed their hero Goliath. When he was brought before their king, Abimelech didn’t believe this crazy man could be David…, so he let him go “Of David, when he disguised his sanity before Abimelech”.
The Rabbi pointed out that the first word of verse 9 actually uses the root of the word to taste (not comprehend), so a better translation would be “taste and see that HaShem is good.” (Perhaps this is an echo of the 2nd verse, which states praise is always in the psalmist’s mouth?) The Rabbi also spoke about the difference between hungering for physical vs. spiritual matters. A person who seeks only material goods is never satisfied, while the person who seeks HaShem is secure in their faith (even if they lack material goods) – Even the mere search for HaShem, although beyond human’s reach, is already satisfactory for the seeker, whereas the scarcity is an ever lasting life of the world of materialism.
As with many psalms, a returning motif, the author’s greatest fear is to be distanced/separated from HaShem.
PSALM 34 – ENGLISH TRANSLATED
1. Of David, when he disguised his sanity before Abimelech, whereupon he drove him out and he departed.
2. I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise is always in my mouth
3. My soul boasts of the Lord; may the humble hear and rejoice.
4. Declare the greatness of the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
5. I sought the Lord and He answered me, and He delivered me from all my terrors.
6. They looked to Him and they became radiant, and their faces will not be ashamed.
7. This poor man called and the Lord heard, and He saved him from all his troubles.
8. An angel of the Lord is stationed around those who fear Him, and He saved them.
9. Comprehend and see that the Lord is good; praiseworthy is the man who takes shelter in Him.
10. Fear the Lord, His holy ones; for there is no want to those who fear Him.
11. Young lions suffer want and are hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good.
12. Come, children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
13. Who is the man who desires life, who loves days to see goodness?
14. Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceitfully.
15. Shun evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.
16. The eyes of the Lord are to the righteous, and His ears are to their cry.
17. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off their remembrance from the earth.
18. They cry out and the Lord hearkens, and He saves them from all their troubles.
19. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and He saves those of crushed spirit.
20. Many evils befall the righteous, but the Lord saves him from them all.
21. He guards all his bones; not one of them was broken.
22. Evil will kill the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be accounted guilty.
23. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and all who take refuge in Him shall not be accounted guilty.
PSALM 34 – ENGLISH TRANSLATED
א לְדָוִד– בְּשַׁנּוֹתוֹ אֶת-טַעְמוֹ, לִפְנֵי אֲבִימֶלֶךְ; וַיְגָרְשֵׁהוּ, וַיֵּלַךְ.
ב אֲבָרְכָה אֶת-יְהוָה בְּכָל-עֵת; תָּמִיד, תְּהִלָּתוֹ בְּפִי.
ג בַּיהוָה, תִּתְהַלֵּל נַפְשִׁי; יִשְׁמְעוּ עֲנָוִים וְיִשְׂמָחוּ.
ד גַּדְּלוּ לַיהוָה אִתִּי; וּנְרוֹמְמָה שְׁמוֹ יַחְדָּו.
ה דָּרַשְׁתִּי אֶת-יְהוָה וְעָנָנִי; וּמִכָּל-מְגוּרוֹתַי הִצִּילָנִי.
ו הִבִּיטוּ אֵלָיו וְנָהָרוּ; וּפְנֵיהֶם, אַל-יֶחְפָּרוּ.
ז זֶה עָנִי קָרָא, וַיהוָה שָׁמֵעַ; וּמִכָּל-צָרוֹתָיו, הוֹשִׁיעוֹ.
ח חֹנֶה מַלְאַךְ-יְהוָה סָבִיב לִירֵאָיו; וַיְחַלְּצֵם.
ט טַעֲמוּ וּרְאוּ, כִּי-טוֹב יְהוָה; אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר, יֶחֱסֶה-בּוֹ.
י יְראוּ אֶת-יְהוָה קְדֹשָׁיו: כִּי-אֵין מַחְסוֹר, לִירֵאָיו.
יא כְּפִירִים, רָשׁוּ וְרָעֵבוּ; וְדֹרְשֵׁי יְהוָה, לֹא-יַחְסְרוּ כָל-טוֹב.
יב לְכוּ-בָנִים, שִׁמְעוּ-לִי; יִרְאַת יְהוָה, אֲלַמֶּדְכֶם.
יג מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים; אֹהֵב יָמִים, לִרְאוֹת טוֹב.
יד נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנְךָ מֵרָע; וּשְׂפָתֶיךָ, מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה.
טו סוּר מֵרָע, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב; בַּקֵּשׁ שָׁלוֹם וְרָדְפֵהוּ.
טז עֵינֵי יְהוָה, אֶל-צַדִּיקִים; וְאָזְנָיו, אֶל-שַׁוְעָתָם.
יז פְּנֵי יְהוָה, בְּעֹשֵׂי רָע; לְהַכְרִית מֵאֶרֶץ זִכְרָם.
יח צָעֲקוּ, וַיהוָה שָׁמֵעַ; וּמִכָּל-צָרוֹתָם, הִצִּילָם.
יט קָרוֹב יְהוָה, לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי-לֵב; וְאֶת-דַּכְּאֵי-רוּחַ יוֹשִׁיעַ.
כ רַבּוֹת, רָעוֹת צַדִּיק; וּמִכֻּלָּם, יַצִּילֶנּוּ יְהוָה.
כא שֹׁמֵר כָּל-עַצְמוֹתָיו; אַחַת מֵהֵנָּה, לֹא נִשְׁבָּרָה.
כב תְּמוֹתֵת רָשָׁע רָעָה; וְשֹׂנְאֵי צַדִּיק יֶאְשָׁמוּ.
כג פֹּדֶה יְהוָה, נֶפֶשׁ עֲבָדָיו; וְלֹא יֶאְשְׁמוּ, כָּל-הַחֹסִים בּוֹ.