Psalm 34 (Part 2) – Instruction for the Good Life

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The Art of the Good Life

It is a great privilege to teach the young. Jesus taught with both his words and by his lifestyle. If young people did nothing more than follow the instruction of Psalm 34.11-14, they would be well on their way to having a good life.

Come, my young friends, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to honor the Lord.
Would you like to enjoy life?
Do you want long life and happiness?
Then keep from speaking evil
and from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good;
strive for peace with all your heart.
(Psalm 34.11-14)

The instruction to good friends can be broken down into five lessons for the good life.

(1) Listen to Instruction – Charles Spurgeon wrote in the mid-1800s that “It is hard to teach the young when their minds are full of other things.”

The young, whether it is in age or maturity, need to put down distractions and entertainment, so they can pick up instruction for life.

(2) Honor the Lord – Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would come to earth and “No one would even look at him – we ignored him as if he were nothing” (Isaiah 53.3).

Deuteronomy described the kind of honor God is due: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6.5).

It is our responsibility to teach the young through our words and actions to love the Lord with all we have and to resist ignoring him as if he were nothing.

(3) Watch Your Speech – The Bible is filled with instances where our speech affects our behavior, for good or for ill.

The Book of Proverbs describes the impact of our words on life.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18.21)

The proper and harmful use of words is a major theme of the Book of James. He writes, “But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison. We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people, who are created in the likeness of God. Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My friends, this should not happen!” (James 3.8-10).

Jesus taught, “You can be sure that on the Judgment Day you will have to give account of every useless word you have ever spoken. Your words will be used to judge you — to declare you either innocent or guilty” (Matthew 12.36-37).

Without a doubt, if we want to live a good life both here and in eternity, we need to make it a priority to speak in the manner of our Savior.

(4) Turn From Evil and Do Good – I really like how Isaiah made this point. Pay attention to how he emphasizes that we are to “learn to do good.”

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.
(Isaiah 1.16-17)

(5) Strive for Peace – Jesus placed his exclamation point on this behavior. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9).

Please consider that I have not filled this section with the wisdom of scholars or philosophers. These five principles of life come to us from none other than our God who loves us and desires the best for us.

The Lord Watches and Listens

When we live in a relationship with God, he watches over us carefully and tenderly. His eyes and ears are open to what we need.

The Lord watches over the righteous
and listens to their cries;
but he opposes those who do evil,
so that when they die, they are soon forgotten.
The righteous call to the Lord, and he listens;
he rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who are discouraged;
he saves those who have lost all hope.
(Psalm 34.15-22)

These words describe the way God shows his loving care over us.

— He watches over us.

— He listens to our cries.

— He rescues the troubled.

— He is near to the discouraged.

— He saves the hopeless.

Be encouraged by these words and bring all of your cares to the Lord. He is truly there for you.

Suffering and Salvation

Dr. Craigie has written, “The fear of the Lord . . . may mend the broken heart, but it does not prevent the heart from being broken; it may restore the spiritually crushed, but it does not crush the forces that may create oppression.”

When we are crushed and oppressed, we can call out to God for his help.

Good people suffer many troubles,
but the Lord saves them from them all;
the Lord preserves them completely;
not one of their bones is broken.
Evil will kill the wicked;
those who hate the righteous will be punished.
The Lord will save his people;
those who go to him for protection will be spared.
(Psalm 34.19-22)

If you have been abused or hurt, you can use turn these words into your own prayer for help. He knows where you are and will hear your prayer.

If you know of those of vulnerable people who have been oppressed, you can use these verses as an appeal to God for their benefit. God will hear your prayer for their sake.

May We Pray for You

Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team who will be honored to pray for you. Please email me at or private message me on Facebook with your prayer request. We will pray for you.


  1. I chuckled slightly as I started reading your article today – in my Bible, I have bracketed vs 11-14 and my note says “Life goals. Get this and you’ve got it!”

    It’s a reminder to us that God opens hearts and minds and teaches all – whether we have a seminary degree or not. I firmly believe, however, in learning from our pastors, from authors, from scholars as God uses these men and women to help us hear from Him – but Scripture is available to all of us. Even in coronavirus lockdown, pandemic isolation, as we are faithful to read His word, pray fervently – without ceasing – we can know Truths about Him. We don’t have to feel held back from Him. He is as near as our prayers, our Bible, our desire to be with Him.

    I very much enjoy the knowledge and wisdom your years of education and Bible study bring to the Scriptures through these articles, Pastor Bob. It is also reaffirming to see what I thought I understood is in line with Truth and not some “feel-good-out-of-context” thought conjured in my head.

    The rest of this Psalm is laden with all God wants for us – words like:
    The Lord is close
    Saves those crushed
    Does not condemn

    I read that list, praise Him for it and return to vs 8-9 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.” AMEN.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Denise. Thanks for your comment. It reminds me of a pastor friend of mine who did not go to school and had trouble reading anything but the Bible. I used to say to him, “The Holy Spirit gives you insight for free. I had to pay to go to school and buy books to get that. I praise God that the Bible tells us that the Spirit will be our teacher.

    I also praise God that he cares for the oppressed. The Latin American Catholic church calls these people “God’s preferred poor.” I like that expression.

    Have a blessed day.


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