The caption to Psalm 34 says “A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away”. This part of David’s life is documented in 1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 22:1-2.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 New Living Translation (NLT)
So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing,
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”
Samuel 22:1-2 New Living Translation (NLT)
David at the Cave of Adullam
So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.
This definitely should have been a low point of David’s life. Imagine how David felt/could have felt? He was anointed to be the King, had accomplished great deeds yet was running for his life from Saul, even to the point where he went to the King of Gath. We can learn much on how to maintain our confidence when facing great challenges from David. We too face things that can test our trust and where we could loose our confidence and hope. It is interesting that David fled to Gath. Gath was one of the five city-states of the Philistines. This is where Goliath was from. So David was fleeing to his enemy. And yet even in this we see God’s blessing over his life because he escaped. However, he escapes to a cave. So this is the context in which Psalm 34 was written. In this Psalm David expresses praise, trust and confidence in the Lord.
Psalm 34 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away.
1 I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
How I pray that whatever we come up against in life we may never loose confidence, but continue to trust in him the hope of our salvation (Micah 7:7).