Psalm 34: Seek peace

‘Seek peace and pursue it’ (14)

This is another acrostic poem probably, as seen in verse 11, for educational purposes: “Come children and listen to me; I will teach you the way of God.” David draws on a particular occasion when he avoided disaster to encourage praise and trust in a more general sense: “Many are the troubles … but God will deliver”. (19)

So he urges exaltation (3) and invites listeners:

Taste and see that God is good; happy are those who trust. (8)

The song refers frequently to divine care, guidance and protection for ‘the righteous’, those who seek (and sometimes even achieve!) justice, love and equity. The mood is far from passive satisfaction. Who among you loves life? (11) Then, says David, ‘… do good, seek peace, pursue it!

🎵

Together in Song 22 is a ready choice, although the solo verses will benefit from a reasonably experienced cantor.

Jane Marshall’s refrain in New Century Hymnal is simple and singable, with good modern harmonies: F Eb Bb- Db∆ Eb F. Verses are sung to a tone of choice.

Soprano entry in Psalm 34 for five voices by William Byrd

Here is an example of a simple locally-composed refrain that can be refitted with words according to the text. The refrain shown below was composed and sung for different occasions (eg Ps 98 ‘Sing a new song’).

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