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.
Note that there is a self-destructive element to “Evil” (21), and this thought can encourage us today
These final verses reiterate the main themes of Psalm 34, and re-emphasise the truth of there being a great gulf between the people accepted by God, and those rejected by Him. In verses 21,22 the word “condemned” comes from the same verb as ‘make them bear their guilt in Psalm 5:10. (Consider Romans 8:1, and 35ff, and the difference faith in Jesus makes).
There is a realism about verse 19. Being right with God, and therefore committed to right living, is no guarantee of a trouble-free life. (See 2 Timothy 3:12). But God is our ever-available “refuge” (22b). Ultimately, all will be well for those who are right with God. (See the paradox in Luke 21:16,18).
Kidner, (p.159), says of verse 19b: ‘The sweeping affirmation…urges the mind forward to look beyond death, if such a promise is to be honoured.’ That said, the protection spoken of in this verse was literally given to Jesus, the most “righteous’ man ever to live. Not one of His bones was broken:
“The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs” (John 19:32,33).
Verse 36 says, “These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken…” (Exodus 12:46 may also have been in John’s mind at this point).
We leave our rather long look at Psalm 34 with these wonderful words from Derek Kidner’s Commentary:
‘At whatever level David himself understood his affirmation of 22a…the whole verse is pregnant with a meaning which comes to birth in the gospel and which is hardly viable in any form that falls short of this. The Christian can echo the jubilant spirit of the psalm with added gratitude, knowing the unimagined cost of 22a and the unbounded scope of 22b’ (pp.159/160).