In an era when people seem to change their cars more frequently than their socks, hands up to that, my father was a Ford man through and through. He owned successively a 1938 Ford 7Y of the “sit-up-and-beg” type, a Ford Counsel, an Anglia, a Cortina Mk1, a Cortina Mk2, and, you guessed it, a Cortina Mk3. His last car was a Vauxhall VX1800 which, come to think of it, he bought from me only to help me out and it gave him nothing but trouble. Ask him and he would extol the virtue of Fords. They were easy to maintain, parts were plentiful, running costs were low and they rarely let you down.
In Psalm 34 David who has just escaped the clutches of king Abimelek by pretending to be insane makes three personal statements in relation to God, the first “I will extol the Lord at all times, his praise will always be on my lips.” It’s easy to praise God with the sun on your back but when the circumstances of life change and the wind is beating in your face maybe the desire to praise cools a little. David’s praise though grew out of his relationship with and knowledge of God not primarily the circumstances of his life and that’s an important distinction.
At all times means in sun and rain, in good and bad, in the mood or not, and praise must then come from personal conviction or experience and be more an act of will than a whim of the moment. The Lord is more than a fair weather friend as we will discover in this Psalm but it is not for this that he is worthy of praise. If he is worthy of praise when David escapes an enemy, he is equally worthy when David is in danger and on the run.
This is an age when it is acceptable to trumpet your own attributes. It’s now almost expected by potential employers. Yet a generation ago boasting was something we were told we should not do but let others judge our work and praise us. It’s telling that David doesn’t boast in his cunning or abilities but he boasts instead proclaiming the greatness and faithfulness of God. And that is something Paul also prescribes in 2 Corinthians 10:17. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Thinking about it now, I guess the thing that was the greatest tribute to Fords as far as my father was concerned was not what he said about them, but the fact that he kept buying them, his car of choice. We can of course praise God with our lips, it’s what we’re called to do but a life of faithfulness on David’s part did most to extol the attributes and declare the praise of God. Why should we be any different?