Psalm 34:10
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Young lions.—See Note, Psalm 17:12. The young lion is the emblem of power and self-resource. Yet these sometimes lack, but the earnest seekers after Divine truth and righteousness never. Instead of “lions,” the LXX. and Vulgate have “the rich.”

Psalms

STRUGGLING AND SEEKING

Psalm 34:10
.

If we may trust the superscription of this psalm, it was written by David at one of the very darkest days of his wanderings, probably in the Cave of Adullam, where he had gathered around him a band of outlaws, and was living, to all appearance, a life uncommonly like that of a brigand chief, in the hills. One might have pardoned him if, at such a moment, some cloud of doubt or despondency had crept over his soul. But instead of that his words are running over with gladness, and the psalm begins ‘I will bless the Lord at all times, and His praise shall continually be in my mouth.’ Similarly here he avers, even at a moment when he wanted a great deal of what the world calls ‘good,’ that ‘they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.’ There were lions in Palestine in David’s time. He had had a fight with one of them, as you may remember, and his lurking place was probably not far off the scene of Samson’s exploits. Very likely they were prowling about the rocky mouth of the cave, and he weaves their howls into his psalm: ‘The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good.’

So, then, here are the two thoughts-the struggle that always fails and the seeking that always finds.

I. The struggle that always fails.

‘The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger.’ They are taken as the type of violent effort and struggle, as well as of supreme strength, but for all their teeth and claws, and lithe spring, ‘they lack, and suffer hunger.’ The suggestion is, that the men whose lives are one long fight to appropriate to themselves more and more of outward good, are living a kind of life that is fitter for beasts than for men. A fierce struggle for material good is the true description of the sort of life that hosts of us live. What is the meaning of all this cry that we hear about the murderous competition going on round us? What is the true character of the lives of, I am afraid, the majority of people in a city like Manchester, but a fight and a struggle, a desire to have, and a failure to obtain? Let us remember that that sort of existence is for the brutes, and that there is a better way of getting what is good; the only fit way for man. Beasts of prey, naturalists tell us, are always lean. It is the graminivorous order that meekly and peacefully crop the pastures that are well fed and in good condition-’which things are an allegory.’

‘The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger’-and that, being interpreted, just states the fact to which every man’s experience, and the observation of every man that has an eye in his head, distinctly say, ‘Amen, it is so.’ For there is no satisfaction or success ever to be won by this way of fighting and struggling and scheming and springing at the prey. For if we do not utterly fail, which is the lot of so many of us, still partial success has little power of bringing perfect satisfaction to a human spirit. One loss counterbalances any number of gains. No matter how soft is the mattress, if there is one tiny thorn sticking up through it all the softness goes for nothing. There is always a Mordecai sitting at the gate when Haman goes prancing through it on his white horse; and the presence of the unsympathetic and stiff-backed Jew, sitting stolid at the gate, takes the gilt off the gingerbread, and embitters the enjoyment. So men count up their disappointments, and forget all their fulfilled hopes, count up their losses and forget their gains. They think less of the thousands that they have gained than of the half-crown that they were cheated of.

In every way it is true that the little annoyances, like a grain of dust in the sensitive eye, take all the sweetness out of mere material good, and I suppose that there are no more bitterly disappointed men in this world than the perfectly ‘successful men,’ as the world counts them. They have been disillusionised in the process of acquisition. When they were young and lusted after earthly good things, these seemed to be all that they needed. When they are old, and have them, they find that they are feeding on ashes, and the grit breaks their teeth, and irritates their tongues. The ‘young lions do lack’ even when their roar and their spring ‘have secured the prey,’ and ‘they suffer hunger’ even when they have fed full. Ay! for if the utmost possible measure of success were granted us, in any department in which the way of getting the thing is this fighting and effort, we should be as far away from being at rest as ever we were.

You remember the old story of the Arabian Nights, about the wonderful palace that was built by magic, and all whose windows were set in precious stones, but there was one window that remained unadorned, and that spoiled all for the owner. His palace was full of treasures, but an enemy looked on all the wealth and suggested a previously unnoticed defect by saying, ‘You have not a roc’s egg.’ He had never thought about getting a roc’s egg, and did not know what it was. But the consciousness of something lacking had been roused, and it marred his enjoyment of what he had and drove him to set out on his travels to secure the missing thing. There is always something lacking, for our desires grow far faster than their satisfactions, and the more we have, the wider our longing reaches out, so that as the wise old Book has it, ‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase.’ You cannot fill a soul with the whole universe, if you do not put God in it. One of the greatest works of fiction of modern times ends, or all but ends, with a sentence something like this, ‘Ah! who of us has what he wanted, or having it, is satisfied?’ ‘The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger’-and the struggle always fails-’but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.’

II. The seeking which always finds.

Now, how do we ‘seek the Lord’? It is a metaphorical expression, of course, which needs to be carefully interpreted in order not to lead us into a great mistake. We do not seek Him as if He had not sought us, or was hiding from us. But our search of Him is search after one who is near every one of us, and who delights in nothing so much as in pouring Himself into every heart and mind, and will and life, if only heart, mind, will, life, are willing to accept Him. It is a short search that the child by her mother’s skirts, or her father’s side, has to make for mother or father. It is a shorter search that we have to make for God.

We seek Him by desire. Do you want Him? A great many of us do not. We seek Him by communion, by turning our thoughts to Him, amidst all the rush of daily life, and such a turning of thought to Him, which is quite possible, will prevent our most earnest working upon things material from descending to the likeness of the lions’ fighting for it. We seek Him by desire, by communion, by obedience. And they who thus seek Him find Him in the act of seeking Him, just as certainly as if I open my eye I see the sun, or as if I dilate my lungs the atmosphere rushes into them. For He is always seeking us. That is a beautiful word of our Lord’s to which we do not always attach all its value, ‘The Father seeketh such to worship Him.’ Why put the emphasis upon the ‘such,’ as if it was a definition of the only kind of acceptable worship? It is that. But we might put more emphasis upon the ‘seeketh’ without spoiling the logic of the sentence; and thereby we should come nearer the truth of what God’s heart to us is, so that if we do seek Him, we shall surely find. In this region, and in this region only, there is no search that is vain, there is no effort that is foiled, there is no desire unaccomplished, there is no failure possible. We each of us have, accurately and precisely, as much of God as we desire to have. If there is only a very little of the Water of Life in our vessels, it is because we did not care to possess any more. ‘Seek, and ye shall find.’

We shall be sure to find everything in God. Look at the grand confidence, and the utterance of a life’s experience in these great words: ‘Shall not want any good.’ For God is everything to us, and everything else is nothing; and it is the presence of God in anything that makes it truly able to satisfy our desires. Human love, sweet and precious, dearest and best of all earthly possessions as it is, fails to fill a heart unless the love grasps God as well as the beloved dying creature. And so with regard to all other things. They are good when God is in them, and when they are ours in God. They are nought when wrenched away from Him. We are sure to find everything in Him, for this is the very property of that infinite divine nature that is waiting to impart itself to us, that, like water poured into a vessel, it will take the shape of the vessel into which it is poured. Whatever is my need, the one God will supply it all.

You remember the old Rabbinical tradition which speaks a deep truth, dressed in a fanciful shape. It says that the manna in the wilderness tasted to every man just what he desired, whatever dainty or nutriment he most wished; that the manna became like the magic cup in the old fairy legends, out of which could be poured any precious liquor at the pleasure of the man who was to drink it. The one God is everything to us all, anything that we desire, and the thing that we need; Protean in His manifestations, one in His sufficiency. With Him, as well as in Him, we are sure to have all that we require. ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom . . . and all these things shall be added unto you.’

Let us begin, dear brethren! with seeking, and then our struggling will not be violent, nor self-willed, nor will it fail. If we begin with seeking, and have God, be sure that all we need we shall get, and that what we do not get we do not need. It is hard to believe it when our vehement wishes go out to something that His serene wisdom does not send. It is hard to believe it when our bleeding hearts are being wrenched away from something around which they have clung. But it is true for all that. And he that can say, ‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee,’ will find that the things which he enjoys in subordination to his one supreme good are a thousand times more precious when they are regarded as second than they ever could be when our folly tried to make them first. ‘Seek first the Kingdom,’ and be contented that the ‘other things’ shall be appendices, additions, over and above the one thing that is needful.

Now, all that is very old-fashioned, threadbare truth. Dear brethren! if we believed it, and lived by it, ‘the peace of God which passes understanding’ would ‘keep our hearts and minds.’ And, instead of fighting and losing, and desiring to have and howling out because we cannot obtain, we should patiently wait before Him, submissively ask, earnestly seek, immediately find, and always possess and be satisfied with, the one good for body, soul, and spirit, which is God Himself.

‘There be many that cry, Oh! that one would show as any good.’ The wise do not cry to men, but pray to God. ‘Lord! lift Thou the light of Thy countenance upon us.’34:1-10 If we hope to spend eternity in praising God, it is fit that we should spend much of our time here in this work. He never said to any one, Seek ye me in vain. David's prayers helped to silence his fears; many besides him have looked unto the Lord by faith and prayer, and it has wonderfully revived and comforted them. When we look to the world, we are perplexed, and at a loss. But on looking to Christ depends our whole salvation, and all things needful thereunto do so also. This poor man, whom no man looked upon with any respect, or looked after with any concern, was yet welcome to the throne of grace; the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The holy angels minister to the saints, and stand for them against the powers of darkness. All the glory be to the Lord of the angels. By taste and sight we both make discoveries, and have enjoyment; Taste and see God's goodness; take notice of it, and take the comfort of it. He makes all truly blessed that trust in him. As to the things of the other world, they shall have grace sufficient for the support of spiritual life. And as to this life, they shall have what is necessary from the hand of God. Paul had all, and abounded, because he was content, Php 4:11-18. Those who trust to themselves, and think their own efforts sufficient for them, shall want; but they shall be fed who trust in the Lord. Those shall not want, who with quietness work, and mind their own business.The young lions do lack and suffer hunger - That is, they often do it, as compared with the friends of God. The allusion is especially to the "young" lions who are not able to go forth themselves in search of food. Perhaps the idea is, that they are dependent on the older lions - their parents - for the supply of their needs, as the pious are dependent on God; but that the result shows their reliance to be often vain, while that of the pious never is. The old lions may be unable to procure food for their young; God is never unable to provide for the wants of his children. If their needs are in any case unsupplied, it is for some other reason than because God is unable to meet their necessities. The word "lack" here - רושׁ rûsh - means to be poor; to suffer want; to be needy: Proverbs 14:20; Proverbs 18:23.

But they that seek the Lord - That seek Him as their Friend; that seek His favor; that seek what they need from Him. "To seek God" is a phrase which is often used to denote true piety. It means that we wish to know Him; that we desire His friendship; and that we seek all our blessings from Him.

Shall not want any good thing - Any real good. God is able to supply every need; and if anything is withheld, it is always certain that it is not because God could not confer it, but because He sees some good reasons why it should not be conferred. The real good; what we need most; what will most benefit us - will be bestowed on us; and universally it may be said of all the children of God that everything in this world and the next will be granted that is really for their good. They themselves are often not the best judges of what will be for their good; but God is an infallible Judge in this matter, and He will certainly bestow what is best for them.

10. not want any good—"good" is emphatic; they may be afflicted (compare Ps 34:10); but this may be a good (2Co 4:17, 18; Heb 12:10, 11). The young lions; either,

1. Properly: see Job 4:11. Or,

2. Metaphorically so called, the great potentates of the earth, who are oft so called, as Jeremiah 2:15 Ezekiel 38:13 Nahum 2:13.

Shall not want any good thing, which is necessary and truly good for them, all circumstances considered; of which God alone is a competent judge. And therefore although God doth usually take a special care to supply the wants of good men, and hath oft done it by extraordinary ways, when ordinary have failed, yet sometimes he knows, and it is certainly true, that wants and crosses are more needful and useful to them than bread, and in such cases it is a greater mercy of God to deny them supplies than to grant them. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger,.... According to Apollinarius,

"the needy rich, whom famine presses;''

see Job 4:10;

but they that seek the Lord; by prayer, diligently, with their whole heart, and in the sincerity of their souls; the Targum is, "that seek the doctrine of the Lord"; that seek instruction from him, and to be taught by him: these

shall not want any good thing: which God has purposed to bestow upon them, which he has promised unto them, and provided for them; nor any thing that shall be for their good.

The young {f} lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not {g} want any good thing.

(f) The godly by their patient obedience profit more than they who ravage and spoil.

(g) If they abide the last trial.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. The young lions] Best understood literally, not as a metaphor for the rich (LXX πλούσιοι, though possibly from a different reading), or powerful oppressors (Psalm 35:17). The sense is that the strongest beasts of prey, most capable of providing for themselves, may suffer want (Job 4:11); not so God’s people. Cp. Psalm 23:1.

For the touching connexion of these words with St Columba’s last hours see Ker’s Psalms in History and Biography, p. 62. He was transcribing the Psalter, and at this verse he laid down his pen. “Here at the end of the page I must stop; what follows let Baithen write.” “The last verse he had written,” says his biographer Adamnan, “was very applicable to the saint who was about to depart, and to whom eternal good shall never be wanting; while the one that followeth is equally applicable to the father who succeeded him, the instructor of his spiritual children.”

11ff. If such are the blessings promised to those who fear the Lord, how essential to know what the fear of the Lord is! Accordingly the poet adopts the language of a teacher and addresses his sons. So the teacher in Proverbs 1-8 constantly addresses his disciples as sons (Psalm 4:1), or my son.Verse 10. - The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger. Some suppose the "young lions" here to represent the proud and violent, as in Job 4:10. But it is simpler to take the present passage literally. In God's animal creation even the strongest suffer want for a time, and have no remedy; his human creatures need never be in want, since they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. It is open to them to "seek the Lord" at any time. (Heb.: 34:5-7) The poet now gives the reason for this praise by setting forth the deliverance he has experienced. He longed for God and took pains to find Him (such is the meaning of דּרשׁ in distinction from בּקּשׁ), and this striving, which took the form of prayer, did not remain without some actual answer (ענה is used of the being heard and the fulfilment as an answer to the petition of the praying one). The perfects, as also in Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:7, describe facts, one of which did not take place without the other; whereas ויּענני would give them the relation of antecedent and consequent. In Psalm 34:6, his own personal experience is generalised into an experimental truth, expressed in the historical form: they look unto Him and brighten up, i.e., whosoever looketh unto Him (הבּיט אל of a look of intense yearning, eager for salvation, as in Numbers 21:9; Zechariah 12:10) brightens up. It is impracticable to make the ענוים from Psalm 34:3 the subject; it is an act and the experience that immediately accompanies it, that is expressed with an universal subject and in gnomical perfects. The verb נהר, here as in Isaiah 60:5, has the signification to shine, glitter (whence נהרה, light). Theodoret renders it: Ὁ μετὰ πίστεως τῷ θεῷ προσιὼν φωτὸς ἀκτῖνας δέχεται νοεροῦ, the gracious countenance of God is reflected on their faces; to the actus directus of fides supplex succeeds the actus reflexus of fides triumphans. It never comes to pass that their countenances must be covered with shame on account of disappointed hope: this shall not and cannot be, as the sympathetic force of אל implies. In all the three dialects חפר (חפר) has the signification of being ashamed and sacred; according to Gesenius and F׬rst (root פר) it proceeds from the primary signification of reddening, blushing; in reality, however, since it is to be combined, not with Arab. hmr, but with chmr (cf. Arab. kfr, כפר, Arab. gfr, gmr), it proceeds from the primary signification of covering, hiding, veiling (Arabic chafira, tachaffara, used of a woman, cf. chamara, to be ashamed, to blush, to be modest, used of both sexes), so that consequently the shame-covered countenance is contrasted with that which has a bright, bold, and free look. In Psalm 34:7, this general truth is again individualised. By זה עני (like זה סיני in Psalm 68:9) David points to himself. From the great peril in which he was placed at the court of the Philistines, from which God has rescued him, he turns his thoughts with gratitude and praise to all the deliverances which lie in the past.
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