Psalm 34:11
Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
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(11) Come, ye children . . .—A common proverbial style. See Proverbs 1:8, and passim. (Comp. also 1John 2:1, &c)

Psalm 34:11. Come, ye children, &c. — Come hither, then, all ye, who, by considering the advantages described above, which attend true religion, are become desirous of obtaining it, and, therefore, are willing to be instructed; hearken unto me — In simplicity and humility of mind, seriously resolved to comply with the divine will as far as it is made known to you; and I will teach you the fear of the Lord — The true and acceptable way of worshipping and serving him, so that you may please and glorify him here, and be admitted into his kingdom hereafter.

34:11-22 Let young persons set out in life with learning the fear of the Lord, if they desire true comfort here, and eternal happiness hereafter. Those will be most happy who begin the soonest to serve so good a Master. All aim to be happy. Surely this must look further than the present world; for man's life on earth consists but of few days, and those full of trouble. What man is he that would see the good of that where all bliss is perfect? Alas! few have this good in their thoughts. That religion promises best which creates watchfulness over the heart and over the tongue. It is not enough not to do hurt, we must study to be useful, and to live to some purpose; we must seek peace and pursue it; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal for peace' sake. It is the constant practice of real believers, when in distress, to cry unto God, and it is their constant comfort that he hears them. The righteous are humbled for sin, and are low in their own eyes. Nothing is more needful to true godliness than a contrite heart, broken off from every self-confidence. In this soil every grace will flourish, and nothing can encourage such a one but the free, rich grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The righteous are taken under the special protection of the Lord, yet they have their share of crosses in this world, and there are those that hate them. Both from the mercy of Heaven, and the malice of hell, the afflictions of the righteous must be many. But whatever troubles befal them, shall not hurt their souls, for God keeps them from sinning in troubles. No man is desolate, but he whom God has forsaken.Come, ye children - From persons in general Psalm 34:8 - from the saints and the pious Psalm 34:9 - the psalmist now turns to children - to the young - that he may state to them the result of his own experience, and teach them from that experience how they may find happiness and prosperity. The original word here rendered "children" properly means "sons;" but there can be no doubt that the psalmist meant to address the young in general. There is no evidence that he especially designed what is here said for his own sons. The counsel seems to have been designed for all the young. I see no reason for supposing, as Rosenmuller, DeWette, and Prof. Alexander do, that the word is here used in the sense of "disciples, scholars, learners." That the word may have such a meaning, there can be no doubt; but it is much more in accordance with the scope of the psalm to regard the word as employed in its usual sense as denoting the young. It is thus a most interesting address from an aged and experienced man of God to those who are in the morning of life - suggesting to them the way by which they may make life prosperous and happy.

Hearken unto me - Attend to what I have to say, as the fruit of my experience and observation.

I will teach you the fear of the Lord - I will show you what constitutes the true fear of the Lord, or what is the nature of true religion. I will teach you how you may so fear and serve God as to enjoy his favor and obtain length of days upon the earth.

11. children—subjects of instruction (Pr 1:8, 10).11 Come ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Psalm 34:11

"Come, ye children." Though a warrior and a king, the Psalmist was not ashamed to teach children. Teachers of youth belong to the true peerage; their work is honourable, and their reward shall be glorious. Perhaps the boys and girls of Gath had made sport of David in his seeming madness, and if so, he here aims by teaching the rising race to undo the mischief which he had done aforetime. Children are the most hopeful persons to teach - wise men who wish to propagate their principles take care to win the ear of the young. "Hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord." So far as they can be taught by word of mouth, or learned by the hearing of the ear, we are to communicate the faith and fear of God, inculcating upon the rising generation the principles and practices of piety. This verse may be the address of every Sabbath School teacher to his class, of every parent to his children. It is not without instruction in the art of teaching. We should be winning and attractive to the youngsters, bidding them "come," and not repelling them with harsh terms. We must get them away, apart from toys and sports, and try to occupy their minds with better pursuits; for we cannot well teach them while their minds are full of other things. We must drive at the main point always, and keep the fear of the Lord ever uppermost in our teachings, and in so doing we may discreetly cast our own personality into the scale by narrating our own experiences and convictions.

Psalm 34:12

Life spent in happiness is the desire of all, and he who can give the young a receipt for leading a happy life deserves to be popular among them. Mere existence is not life; the art of living, truly, really, and joyfully living, it is not given to all men to know. To teach men how to live and how to die, is the aim of all useful religious instruction. The rewards of,virtue are the baits with which the young are to be drawn to morality. While we teach piety to God we should also dwell much upon morality towards man.

Psalm 34:13

"Keep thy tongue from evil." Guard with careful diligence that dangerous member, the tongue, lest it utter evil, for that evil will recoil upon thee, and mar the enjoyment of thy life. Men cannot spit forth poison without feeling some of the venom burning their own flesh. "And thy lips from speaking guile." Deceit must be very earnestly avoided by the man who desires happiness. A crafty schemer lives like a spy in the enemy's camp, in constant fear of exposure and execution. Clean and honest conversation, by keeping the conscience at ease, promotes happiness, but lying and wicked talk stuffs our pillow with thorns, and makes life a constant whirl of fear and shame. David had tried the tortuous policy, but he here denounces it, and begs others as they would live long and well to avoid with care the doubtful devices of guile.

Psalm 34:14

"Depart from evil." Go away from it. Not merely take your hands off, but yourself off. Live not near the pest-house. Avoid the lion's lair, leave the viper's nest. Set a distance between yourself and temptation. "And do good." Be practical, active, energetic, persevering in good. Positive virtue promotes negative virtue; he who does good is sure to avoid evil. "Seek peace." Not merely prefer it, but with zeal and care endeavour to promote it. Peace with God, with thine own heart, with thy fellow man, search after this as the merchantman after a precious pearl. Nothing can more effectually promote our own happiness than peace; strife awakens passions which eat into the heart with corroding power. Anger is murder to one's own self, as well as to its objects. "And pursue it." Hunt after it, chase it with eager desire. It may soon be lost, indeed, nothing is harder to retain, but do your best, and if enmity should arise let it be no fault of yours. Follow after peace when it shuns you; be resolved not to be of a contentious spirit. The peace which you thus promote will be returned into your own bosom, and be a perennial spring of comfort to you.

Ye children; whom I love as mine own children, and who own me as your civil father, your prince; see 2 Kings 5:13; and as your spiritual father, a prophet; for the disciples of the prophets were called their sons, 2 Kings 2:3. The fear of the Lord, i.e. the true and principal way of worshipping and serving God with his acceptation, and to your own salvation.

Come, ye children,.... Meaning either his own children, those of his own family, judging it his duty to instruct them, and bring them up in the fear of the Lord; or his subjects, to whom he stood in the relation of a father, as every king does; or all his hearers, as those who attended the prophets are called the children or sons of the prophets; or young people in common may be designed, who should be taught early their duty to God and men: unless the children of God in general are here meant; or particularly the least among them, called babes and little children, who are little in their own eyes, are modest and humble; and who, as they need instruction, are most forward to receive it; and the word "come" does not so much design local motion, a drawing near to hear, as readiness to hear, and a close attention of mind; as follows;

hearken unto me; as unto a father, giving good doctrine and wholesome advice; Proverbs 2:1;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord; which he had so often spoken of, and so many good things are promised to them that have it, and even in the context: this the psalmist could not give, nor can any man, only teach it, show the nature of it, in what it lies, how it shows itself, and what are the effects it produces: this is the first lesson to be taught and learnt; for it is the beginning of wisdom; it includes all grace, and every duty, and regards the whole worship of God, and the manner of it.

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the {h} fear of the LORD.

(h) That is, the true religion and worship of God.

11. the fear of the Lord] Including both the devout reverence which is essential to a right relation of man to God, and the conduct which it demands. The phrase is characteristic of Proverbs, occurring in that book almost as often as in all the rest of the O.T. See especially Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 9:10; and cp. Isaiah 11:2-3; 1 Peter 1:17.

Verses 11-22. - The second, didactic, part of the psalm here begins. The writer assumes the role of the teacher, and, addressing his readers as "sons," undertakes to "teach them the fear of the Lord" (ver, 11), or, in other words, to point out to them in what true religion consists. This he does in two remarkable verses (vers. 13, 14); after which he proceeds, in the remainder of the psalm, to give reasons which may incline them to the practice of it (vers. 15-22). The reasons resolve themselves into two main grounds - the tender love and care of God for the righteous (vers. 15, 17-20, 22), and his hostility to and punishment of the wicked (vers. 16, 21). Verse 11. - Come, ye children, hearken unto me (comp. Proverbs 4:1; Proverbs 8:32; 1 John 2:1, 18; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4, etc.). I will teach you the fear of the Lord; i.e. I will teach you the nature of true religion. Note the absence from what follows of any merely legal requirements, and the simple insist-ance on right moral conduct (vers. 13, 14). Psalm 34:11(Heb.: 34:12-15) The first main division of the Psalm is ended; the second (much the same as in Psalm 32:1-11) assumes more the tone of a didactic poem; although even Psalm 34:6, Psalm 34:9 have something of the didactic style about them. The poet first of all gives a direction for fearing God. We may compare Psalm 32:8; Psalm 51:15 - how thoroughly Davidic is the turn which the Psalm here takes! בּנים are not children in years or in understanding; but it is a tender form of address of a master experienced in the ways of God to each one and to all, as in Proverbs 1:8, and frequently. In Psalm 34:13 he throws out the question, which he himself answers in Psalm 34:14. This form of giving impressiveness to a truth by setting it forth as a solution of some question that has been propounded is a habit with David. Psalm 14:1; Psalm 24:8, Psalm 24:10; Psalm 25:12. In the use made of this passage from the Psalms in 1 Peter 3:10-12 ( equals Psalm 34:13 of the Psalm) this form of the question is lost sight of. To חפץ חיּים, as being just as exclusive in sense, corresponds אהב ימים, so that consequently לראות is a definition of the purpose. ימים signifies days in the mass, just as חיּים means long-enduring life. We see from James 3:2., where Psalm 34:13 also, in its form, calls to mind the Psalm before us, why the poet gives the pre-eminence to the avoiding of sins of the tongue. In Psalm 34:15, from among what is good peace is made prominent, - peace, which not only are we not to disturb, but which we are to seek, yea, pursue it like as the hunter pursues the finest of the herds. Let us follow, says the apostle Paul also, Romans 14:19 (cf. Hebrews 12:14), after those things which make for peace. שׁלום is a relationship, harmonious and free from trouble, that is well-pleasing to the God of love. The idea of the bond of fellowship is connected with the corresponding word eiree'nee, according to its radical notion.
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