Beginning after the superscript, Psalm 34 follows the acrostic organization for each verse.
The superscript (or, title) associates this psalm with events in David’s life from 1 Samuel 21:10-15 when David found himself feigning insanity in front of the Philistine King Achish.
Achish was the king of Gath who’s official title was “Abimelech” (meaning “my father is king”) like “Pharaoh” was the title of Egyptian kings. In fact, Abraham and Isaac use the title “Abimelech” in Genesis 20 and Genesis 26 refer to the leader of the Philistines.
Since the subject matter of this title does not specifically match the topics detailed in the individual acrostic verses it is hard to imagine this superscript being added years later. It would seem David himself wrote and titled this Psalm based on his personal experience in Gath before Abimelech Achish, the king of Gath.
The first nine verses of this psalm build like this:
34:1 – David declares his intention to praise the Lord in these words and at all times. Avarakha, or “Let me bless,” begins the acrostic with the first Hebrew letter ‘aleph.
34:2 – David’s glory is not in himself, his skill, his kingdom, his wealth, or his military power. No, because David’s glory, or “boasting”, is in the Lord. David turns away from a self-centered subject to glorify and boast in the Lord. David’s purpose in writing is to assist others, possibly other people who are self-centered and self-promoting boasters, to look away from themselves in order to see someone who is truly worthy of promoting. The one who is worthy of promotion and praise is the Lord.
34:3 – Here others are directly invited to join David in his boasting by “magnifying” or “making great” the Lord. Of course, God’s character will not change, but man’s awareness of the Lord’s great essence will come into sharper focus for them. A greater awareness of the Lord results in a greater faith. And, greater faith produces greater obedience.
34:4 – David recounts personal experience of the Lord’s deliverance in his own life.
34:5 – David recounts the historical examples of others who looked to the Great God and were delighted with the results. This most likely would include many of the Old Testament examples we are also familiar with that had preceded David and his times.
34:6 – David guarantees that when a humble person turns to God instead of exalting themselves the Lord will listen. Instead of boasting in our own plans we should seek the Lord and promote his ways.
34:7 – One of the methods and one of the reasons for the deliverance of the believer is the presence of the Angel of the Lord (the divine messenger, who sometimes is clearly a manifestation of the Second Member of the Trinity in the Old Testament). The Angel of the Lord is often mentioned in the biblical accounts such as when Abraham sent his servant Eliezer into Aram to find Isaac’s wife (Gen. 24:7), or when the Angel of the Lord led Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 23:20-23). Those who honor this “messenger,” the Angel of the Lord or the Second Member of the Trinity, will “be set free.”(John 8:32; Romans 8:2; Luke 4:17-21).
34:8 – David encourages us, his readers and fellow worshippers, to personally experience the Lord in our own lives and join him and those before him in agreeing that the Lord is Good.