This psalm is noted to have been penned in conjunction with the account recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15. This is at the time of David’s life when he began being on the run from King Saul who was pursuing David with murderous intent. This is helpful information to set the context for understanding and relating to what David describes in this psalm. You may take note of what appears to be a name discrepancy between the superscript of the psalm and the account in 1 Samuel. For clarification, Abimelech was a royal title descriptor for the kings of the Philistines and Achish is the personal name of that specific king (similar to using the title ‘Pharaoh’ in Egypt and/or a pharaoh’s personal name).
A couple of themes seen early in this psalm are that the mouth and what fills it (v.1,8,10,13)…and fear (v.4,7,9,11). First, our mouths can be filled with food; and there is necessity of using our mouths to satisfy hunger (v.10). Our mouths can be filled with wickedness, evil and deceit (v.13-14); and this is the disposition of fallen man. But our mouths can and should be continually filled with praise; blessing the LORD, magnifying him and exalting his name (v.1,3). For this is the disposition of man whose life is redeemed by Jesus Christ (v.22).
Second, we might have fears of poverty, trouble, danger, hunger, conflict, broken-heartedness, affliction or the unrighteous. But, in Christ, we are delivered from all such fears (v.4). Instead, we are to fear the LORD alone (v.7,11). In so doing, we can taste and see that the LORD is good (v.8). In so doing, we are blessed (v.8). In so doing, we lack no good thing (v.9-10). In so doing, we find refuge and no condemnation (v.5,6,8,17-19,22).
David has ended in a good and right place with the expression of his heart in this psalm, but to consider the details from the 1 Samuel 21 account, we see that God was very gracious to him despite David not doing as described in this psalm. David was filled with all the wrong fears, leading him to wrongfully fill his mouth with both food and deceit. God worked despite David’s lack of faith and drew him to, and grew him in, a proper fear of the LORD. David learned his lesson. We, too, can learn not only from those who example righteousness through and through, but also from those to whom God is gracious in their unfaithfulness and unrighteousness. David is such a man; and so am I; and so are you.
Let the humble hear and be glad. May your soul make its boast in the LORD alone (v.2).