“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11)
Prophet David, in this latter part of the psalm, undertakes to teach children. Though a man of war, and anointed to be King, he did not think it below him; now that he had his head so full of cares and his hands of business, yet he could find heart and time to give good counsel to young people from his own experience. It does not appear that he had now any children of his own, at least any that were grown up to a capacity of being taught; but, by divine inspiration, he instructs the children of his people. Those that were in years would not be taught by him, though he had offered them his service; but he had hopes that the tender branches will be more easily bent and that children and young people will be more tractable; therefore, he calls together a congregation of them.
In verse 11, he have said, “Come, you children, I will teach you the fear of the Lord” for whom are fit to learn and are lay up a stock of knowledge which you must live upon all your days; children that are foolish and ignorant necessity to be taught. Perhaps he intends especially those children whose parents neglected to instruct and catechize them; and it is as great a piece of charity to put those children to school whose parents are not capable to teach them as to feed those children whose parents have not bread for them.
We shall observe how his words command to obey him.’ Prophet David was a famous psalmist, a statesman, a soldier; but he does not say to the children, “I will teach you to play on the harp, or to handle the sword or spear, or to draw the bow, or I will teach you the maxims of state policy; but I will teach you the fear of the Lord which is better than all arts and sciences, better than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Psalm 32:8)
The Prophet’s explanation about the desire of life is as it follows, not only to see many days, but to see good comfortable days, it is not being, but well being that constitutes life. He asked, “Who wishes to live a long and pleasant life?” and it is easily answered, who does not? Surely this must look further than time and this present world; for man’s life on earth at best consists but of few days and those full of trouble. What man is he that would be eternally happy, that would see many days, as many as the days of heaven, that would see good in that world where all bliss is in perfection, without the least alloy? Who would see the good before him now, by faith and hope, and enjoy it shortly? Who would? Sadly! Very few.
Most ask who will show us any good. But few ask, what shall we do to inherit eternal life? This question implies that there are some such.
He prescribes the true and only way to happiness both in this world and that to come. Would we pass comfortably through this world and out of the world? Our constant care must be to keep a good conscience and so, we must learn to bridle our tongues giving care to what we say, that we never speak amiss, to God’s dishonor or our neighbors prejudice as his words avowed, “keep your tongue from evil speaking, lying and slandering.” (Psalm 34:13-14)
We must be upright and sincere in everything we say and not double-tongued. Our words must be the indications of our minds; our lips must be kept from speaking guild either to God or man. We must leave all our sins and dearth unity with them. We must depart from evil, works and sinners; from the sins others commit and which we have formerly allowed ourselves in.
It is not enough not to do harm in the world; but we must study to be useful and live to some purpose. We must not only depart from evil, but we must do good for ourselves, especially for our own souls, employing them well, furnishing them with a good treasure and fitting them for another world; as we have ability and opportunity, we must do good for others also.
Since nothing is more contrary to that love which never fails (which is the summary both of law and gospel, both of grace and glory) than strife and contention, which bring confusion and every evil work, we must seek peace and pursue it, we must show a peaceable disposition, seek reasons for peace, deter break the peace and to make mischief. If there is no among us, we must pursue it; follow peace with all men, spare no pains, no expense, to preserve and recover peace; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal, both in honor and interest, for peace’ sake. These directions in a way to life and good are transcribed into the New Testament and made part of our gospel duty; And, perhaps Prophet David, in warning us that we speak no guile, reflects upon his own sin in changing his behavior. Those that truly repent of what they have done amiss will warn others to take heed of doing likewise.
The Prophet enforces these directions by setting before us the happiness of God in the love and favor of God and the miserable state of the wicked under his displeasure; life and death, good and evil, the blessing and the curse all recon on the trepidation of God.
Source: Bible Commentaries