This Poor Man Cried
I will bless the Lord at all times;His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord;The humble and downtrodden will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me,And let us lift up His name together. I sought the Lord [on the authority of His word], and He answered me,And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant;Their faces will never blush in shame or confusion. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard himAnd saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [with awe-inspired reverence and worship Him with obedience],And He rescues [each of] them. O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good;How blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who takes refuge in Him. O [reverently] fear the Lord, you His saints (believers, holy ones);For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions lack [food] and grow hungry,But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me;I will teach you to fear the Lord [with awe-inspired reverence and worship Him with obedience]. Who is the man who desires lifeAnd loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evilAnd your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good;Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous [those with moral courage and spiritual integrity]And His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,To cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry [for help], the Lord hearsAnd rescues them from all their distress and troubles. The Lord is near to the heartbrokenAnd He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin). Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,But the Lord rescues him from them all. He keeps all his bones;Not one of them is broken. Evil will cause the death of the wicked,And those who hate the righteous will be held guilty and will be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
His sister asked me to visit him. “My brother is dying,” she said, “He has lived a hard life, curses incessantly, and I can’t predict what he’ll say to you. But he needs Jesus.”
I found him emaciated from emphysema in the large veteran’s hospital up the freeway from our church. I was a young, inexperienced pastor and had never called on a dying person.
I introduced myself, not really knowing what to do or say. He began to cry and poured out his confession of a life without God. Then, following my leading, he offered a childlike prayer inviting Jesus to forgive him and be his Savior. I left the bedside of a man at peace,
Several days later he slipped into the Lord’s presence. How could I tell the family I never conducted a funeral or that I didn’t know what to say? I found myself thinking, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his trouble.”
Psalm 34 centers around verse 6, “this poor man cried and the Lord heard and saved him.” Our praise to God for deliverance can only come from that place and experience of needing and finding rescue. David knew the experience of being crushed in spirit, facing many troubles and being broken-hearted. Most us us know something of that.
Only foolish people think they don’t need God’s help in a crisis. The wise cry. We cry when the hurt is so bad you can’t contain the pain inside and when there are no foreseeable solutions to your problems.
We ask in those times, does anyone care, is anybody listening? David said, “The Lord heard him” and we can be sure He hears us. Psalm 34 begins by David telling the afflicted to hear. Jesus hears our cry for help and we in turn are to “hear” that He hears us. Psalm 34 says, “I will extol the Lord at all times(even when I’m crying); His praise will always(even in danger or discouragement) be on my lips.”
Psalm 34 teaches us that the Lord saves us from all our troubles- not just some- but all. It is filled with the language of victory, praise and thanksgiving from one who has emerged from a horrible time of trial and trouble: “My soul will boast in the Lord…Glorify the Lord with me….I sought the Lord, and He answered me….Those who look to Him are radiant…The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him…Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Psalm 34 offers four ways we should live in light of God hearing and helping us:
First, we are not to be independent. We need the Lord’s help. Though the lion is the most powerful of animals and the least likely to go hungry, the Lord takes better care of us than the lion does of itself. Did not Jesus say that the Father makes sure the little sparrows are cared for? Did He not say that if such was true, could we not trust Him to take care of us? George Wood says, “True fear of the Lord means living in reverence of and dependence upon Him.”
Second, we are to talk right, live right, and speak truth. We are to keep displacing wrong thoughts and actions with right ones. We are to pursue peace- not the peace of the world but Shalom, the peace of God which passes all understanding. George Wood says, “Victory is the critical moment of exhilaration, but peace is the long term aftermath. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, means more than the cessation of hostilities; rather it stands for wholeness, soundness, and life without lack.”
Third, we need to stay tender, sensitive to the Lord. If God draws near to the broken-hearted and rescues those crushed in spirit, then He is surely far from those who are hard-hearted and declines to help those who are haughty. James says it this way:
“But He gives us more and more grace [through the power of the Holy Spirit to defy sin and live an obedient life that reflects both our faith and our gratitude for our salvation]. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud and haughty, but [continually] gives [the gift of] grace to the humble [who turn away from self-righteousness].” Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].”
James 4: 6, 10
Fourth, we must wait for the final outcome. Psalm 34 ends with a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. “He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” Applied to us, bones are the strong structures of the human body that support it. Adversity may tear our skin, wound our muscle and leave scars but the Lord will not let it break our bones- destroy our structure when it’s rooted in Him. Life may drive us to our knees and leave us feeling helpless and hopeless, but when “this poor man (or woman) cries, God hears. In Psalm 30 we learned that “weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.” The darkness of this world may surround us, trouble may make its frequent appearance, our situations may overwhelm us, but the God who hears will at some point push back the darkness and we will behold the dawning of a day of joy. One day soon Jesus will come and what a glorious morning that will be. Our weeping will cease for the night will be forever over. But until that day let us live with the assurance that “the Lord has heard my cry.”
George Wood shares: “Since that first funeral I have ministered to the dying and stood at more gravesides than I can count. For those who trust in Jesus, I know that crying is not the end; it is step one. Step two? Our loving Lord hears the weeping. Step three? He delivers. This sequence applies not only to death, but in all times we feel endangered, overwhelmed, and disconsolate. We may cry, however, He hears; He helps.”
Dr. John Thompson