detail from Hebrew Bible manuscript with Latin and French notations

Questions for Reflection and Discussion – Psalm 34

One of the Uniform Series texts for Sunday, May 27 is Psalm 34:1-10. Here are some questions on the text that might be worth thinking about or discussing in class:

What, if anything, are we to make of the notation “By David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech …” etc.? (We could compare 1 Samuel 21, especially vv10-15; but then we might also want to make note of 1 Samuel 27 & 29. Evidently, King Achish of Gath has concluded David has gotten over his psychotic break by chapter 27.) How do we read the Bible as a record of events? What assumptions do we make about the text, and what allowances do we make (that is, what stories do we tell ourselves about how this text came to be, who worked on it, how they gathered their material, etc.) when we do that?

How does this Psalm use the word “fear”? Is the meaning of “fear” in verse 4 the same as the meaning of “fear” in verse 8, or verse 10? What are those meanings? If they are different, how are they different? Why do we think this?

The Psalm presents God as someone to “fear,” and also as someone to “take refuge in.” How are these two things related? What does it mean to “take refuge”? What do we think of when we hear, or use, that language? What else could we think of? What image of refuge seems to fit this text best? Why do we say this?

Who is the Psalmist inviting along to magnify the name of God (v3) – everyone, or someone in particular? Like “the humble”? What difference might it make how we answer this question? More personal: Do we think the Psalmist is inviting us to magnify God along with him? Why, or why not? Are we inclined to accept the invitation? Why, or why not?

What does the Psalmist mean by “taste and see,” do we think? [And, by the way, don’t we LOVE that verse??!] What, if anything, does it bring to mind – what image do we have? Why, do we think? Notice that there are other references to food and the mouth in this Psalm (v1; v10) – do we think that is on purpose? What do we think this might mean? What does it say about God? About us?

detail from Hebrew Bible manuscript with Latin and French notations

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