I have enjoyed a closer study of Psalm 34 this week. It gives such a deep assurance that God hears me (vv.6,15,17), sees me (v.15) and delivers me (vv.17,19) from all my troubles. When I have lost sight of God in life’s storms, it is such a comfort to know that He has not lost sight of me. When a thousand voices tumbling through my mind have made me deaf to His voice, it is such a comfort to know that He can still hear me. When I feel no end to my problems, I can remember that He is the One who will deliver me (vv.7,17).
One verse in particular (v.15) – “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” – has stood out. It reminded me of the common Zulu greeting: Sawubona (pronounce it sow:boh:nah and not sa:woo:bo:nah). Sawubona to an individual you meet and Sanibonani if you are meeting more than one person. It has become a fashionable piece of cultural appropriation, popularised by the success of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ movie. In the movie the Na’vi greet one another with the phrase ‘oel ngatie kameie’ – “I see you” – a straight lift from the meaning of Sawubona. The Zulu greeting translates as “I see you” and the answer reflects a mutual acknowledgement and respect of one another: “I see you too.” The concept is of ‘seeing’ physically but also spiritually. A clear acknowledgement and recognition of one another. A commitment to focus on one another.
Perhaps Cameron borrowed the idea from Zulu culture? But the concept is there from long before in the psalm, voiced a thousand years before Christ: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” Whatever we are going through, wherever we are, however much crowds out our own perception of God, He sees us and He hears us. His full focus and His complete attention are set on us. His commitment to us is 100% and unvarying. He is never blind to us, never deaf to us and never distracted from us. We are safe in Him.
Psalm 34 (NIV)
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.