First Off…read Psalm 34.
If your Bible is like mine, you’ll see some text just below the title “Psalm 34” that reads something to the effect of, “Psalm of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.” What in the world? David pretended to be insane? It’s funny how we can miss some things. 1 Sam 21:11-14 accounts the story of David fleeing into the hands of the enemy…then feigning madness.
But is this a story of pretending madness? On how we, when in trouble, simply need to pretend to be insane and we’ll be let go? That when in trouble simply pretend and God will deliver?
Not at all. The words of Psalm 34 find its mark in verses 11-14. The “Come, my children and listen to me…” show us that this is a psalm of life’s teachings. The words contained in these 22 verses are words of life. Words of salvation. Words that remind us that THROUGHOUT life…we are to trust, see, and remember that it is the Lord who saves. It is the Lord who delivers. It is the Lord who rescues.
I googled “how to live a long life” (funny how a search engine name is now an actual word and term) and I got 87,500,000 results on how to do just that! You’d think with that many hits and instructions that we could ALL live a “long life.” Some of the results even come with pictures! We should: exercise, be proactive with health problems, avoid high-risk behavior, avoid toxic substances (not sure if that’s drugs…or anything else in life that the FDA says is bad for me), don’t drink a lot, quit smoking and avoid street drugs (and no – the pictures didn’t help).
Science says that I can live to be the oldest person ever (Jeanne Clement) who lived to be 122 and in fact, she smoked until she was 117! So toss out what those “7 Habits of Healthy People” tell me…and just hope you have good genes! We’re learning that the average “life span” IS increasing…but in order to get to 122+ then we’ll have to start having “super genes” and modifying our body chemistry.
The problem is that while science and medicine CAN help us and prolong our life…is that really “living”? Is there happiness there? Is there joy? And all those “healthy lifestyle” people may be right in that those suggestions SHOULD be part of my daily life…but will doing them guarantee me a “long life”?
And now that I think about it, what is a “long life”? My grandmother is in her 90’s…and by her words, she’s been here too long. I have a friend whose in his early 50’s and for him…he’s lived a good “long” life already. So if it’s his time to go – then it’s time to go and that’s that.
So where do we go with this? Well, David isn’t giving us instructions on how to exist longer on this earth…his words, instead, are on how to LIVE longer. Not by numbers…but by joy and hope.
“Living” comes to us when we are given life in God. For David, living came when he “sought the Lord, and he answered” his cry. Delivering him from all his fears. His face, beaming with the radiance of God, was delivered from his troubles and rescued from the pit of hopelessness (vs 4-7).
From David’s words…here’s what I think it means: Living, is knowing that you are cared for and loved, watched over and rescued. Living, is knowing that when you are in need the Lord rescues. Living, is feeling and observing and breathing into the “goodness” of God. To live is to be kept from evil and turned towards the face of goodness. Living, is seeking and finding peace.
The reason David seeks to instruct children, the reason WE also instruct children is because we want them to know what is right and true – because we’ve experienced pain and heartache and there is no “living” in that emotion, in that place and space, and in that fear. Living isn’t in sadness – it’s only found in joy.
Living a long life is relative. I get that. But I think we need to understand that it’s not the quantity of days…but quality of days we’ve been given.
With that said – here is something good and true and a rule to live by that will not grant you a long life…but WILL help you LIVE each and every day of your life: “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 5:20)