Christ’s Friendship Toward Us

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Psalms

A “Yes” Face

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was our third president in the USA. One time, he and a group of companions were traveling on horseback and came to a flooded river which had washed away the bridge. Each rider forded the river on horseback, fighting against deadly currents. Another traveler, not part of the group, walked up to the President and said, “Can I have a ride across the river?” Jefferson agreed and the man climbed onto Jefferson’s horse and they made it safely to the other side.

The stranger gladly slid off the horse to dry ground. A man in Jefferson’s group asked, “Why on earth would you ask the President for a ride across the river? Why didn’t you ask one of us?” The man was shocked, and said, “I had no idea he was President. All I knew is that written upon your faces was the word ‘no’, but his face said ‘yes.’ And I needed a ‘yes’ face right now.”1

Proverbs says: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity….One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”2

Jesus Christ is that kind of Friend and Brother to all who trust in Him. He is reliable and remains with us. On His way to the Cross, the Lord said: “I no longer call you servants, instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you….You are my friends if you do what I command….Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”3 Christ willingly sacrificed Himself to save us. Hallelujah!

And Jesus has a “Yes” face toward all people who call on Him. He invites us to come to Him without hesitating. I was thinking about Christ’s friendship toward us as I read Psalm 34:1-10. These notes were used in prison ministry and pastoral counseling.

Psalm 34:1-10

1 I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. 2 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. 9 Fear the LORD, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

The Setting of Psalm 34

This Psalm was written at a humiliating time for King David. The background story is recorded in 1 Samuel 21. But my focus now is on Christians using Psalm 34 to help us look up to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) when things fall apart in our lives. David was trusting in Jesus the Messiah over 1,000 years before Christ’s first coming. David said in Psalm 16, “I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”4 David was a sinful man, but he repented when he was wrong. So God regarded David as a friend and the Lord was often on David’s mind. Is that true of us?

Let’s Thank Jesus for Saving, Helping, Keeping, Loving Us

Notice all the active verbs in Psalm 34:1-3. We extol, praise, and boast in the Lord because He is worthy. We rejoice, glorify, and exalt His name together with other believers because of Christ’s everlasting mercy toward us. He rescued His followers all through Bible times and He has continued to do that over the past 2,000 years since Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

This Psalm reminds me of a pastor who was leading worship at a leper colony on the Caribbean island of Tobago. One woman’s nose and ears were entirely destroyed by the disease. Most of her lips had rotted away. But she was a Christian and she lifted her fingerless hand in the air. She asked: Can we sing “Count Your Many Blessings?” After singing, the pastor was overcome with emotion as he reflected on the woman’s faith. He said, “I’ll never ever sing that song the same way again.” He resolved to be grateful for all the ways the Lord had blessed him, instead of griping about things that were not going as he wanted. He would choose to focus on the “yes” face of Jesus, His smiling face, not the negatives.5

Let’s Rejoice That Christ Has Done Great Things for Us

Psalm 34:4-7 says that:

  • We seek the Lord because He answers us and delivers us from all our fears. 
  • We look to Him because He makes us radiant and takes away our shame. 
  • We call on Him because He hears us and saves us out of all our troubles. 
  • We fear and love Him because His angel encamps around us and delivers us.

This reminds me of the Masai tribe in East Africa who say thank you in an amazing way. They bow before the person who has helped them, put their foreheads on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.” They show us that thanksgiving is an act of humility, admitting that we have been blessed by another person undeservedly. So instead of getting stuck on “woe is me,” we learn from Psalm 34 to say, “Look what God has done for me!” Also Psalm 107 says: “Let us give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind.” Discouraged Christians need to remind each other of the help God has already given us. Negative things happen, but we cannot deny that the Lord has blessed us repeatedly. We must choose to humble ourselves before God and rejoice in Him, not lick our wounds and wallow in self-pity.6

Then We Invite Others to Seek the Lord

Psalm 34:8-10 says taste and see God’s goodness and you will enjoy the blessing of taking refuge in Him. Fear the Lord and seek Him and you will lack no good thing. When we tell other people what God has done for us, that makes Jesus’ gospel attractive and we may lead them to trust and obey the Lord for themselves. Henry Ward Beecher said: If you want your neighbor to know what Christ will do for them, let your neighbor see what Christ has done for you.

Prayer: Lord help us to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. Help us to make it easier for others to believe in you. Make your light shine through us to others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. Amen.

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Ethan Magness, Grace Anglican Online (9-2-19).     2 Prov 17:17, 18:24.     3 John 15:13-15.     4 Psalm 16:8, quoted in Acts 2:25.     5 “First-person: A Story That Changed My Life Forever” by Joe McKeever (1/6/21). See also Zeph 3:17 and similar passages.     6 I heard this in a sermon by Pastor Mark Mitchell.     7 Prayer based on 1 Thess 5:16-18; Matt 5:16.