Psalm 34: 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
It is no secret that I really enjoy eating. I don’t need to be force fed or have someone remind me to eat something. My stomach will grumble, and I might get a little grumpy if it’s been a while since my last meal – instilling disciplines like regular fasting has helped a bit with the latter. The challenge with loving to eat is not a big issue when you’re an active athlete in your teens, twenties or even thirties. Unfortunately, when you hit your forties and fifties, you face some challenges. Typically, you have significant work and family obligations, so your own needs slip somewhere down the totem pole, and secondly your body’s metabolism seems to go off on an extended vacation. So, if you want to stay reasonably healthy, you must either cut down your food intake considerably or find a way to burn those calories. I certainly don’t eat the 5,000+ calories per day that I used to consume when I trained and competed in distance events, but I have chosen to still enjoy food. This means I need to continue to burn off calories each day. While I generally enjoy working out, and while it is one of my special “God times”, I can’t lie – I’m on a “Guy-it”. I’ll go out for an interval run in sub-zero temperatures so I can enjoy a big meal rather than passing it up. Put a big steak, mashed potatoes and a Caesar salad in front of me, and it will call out to me: “taste and see that I am good”.
Today’s scripture from Psalm 34:8 might seem almost creepy to some. David implores others to:” Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” How do we taste God? What does that even mean? I recall an iconic commercial from the 1970’s which promoted Quaker Oats’ Life cereal. Three young brothers sat around a heaping bowl of breakfast cereal. Two of the brothers were trying to get the other to try the cereal, which was supposed to be healthy. Finally, they said: “Let’s get Mikey, he hates everything”. Little Mikey briefly stares at the bowl, then tries it and ravages it. The brothers excitedly scream: “He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”.
David’s call upon the people of Israel is an urge to try God – to dig deep into his very nature. Psalm 34 begins with praise (vs. 1-3), then with thanksgiving for his deliverance (vs. 4,6), and next with a call to remember that God is both our protector and deliver (vs. 7). David then, in verse 8, calls on the people to “taste and see” that the Lord is good.
If we never press into God, we will never see him. Mikey could have stared at the bowl of cereal all day long, but unless he plunged his spoon into the bowl and brought the cereal and milk into his mouth, he would have never truly understood the goodness of that cereal. Our Christian lives can look very much like the other brothers who were unwilling to plunge in to try. Going to church every Sunday, volunteering for church activities during the week, hanging out with Christians – none of those things in themselves allow us to taste God. Tasting God requires a personal relationship with him. It requires quiet time with him. It requires a life that is plugged into the Word of God, and a life of continual prayer, not an occasional request from the supernatural vending machine. Tasting the Lord requires a relationship where you laugh with God, cry with God, thank him, express your doubts, share life with him. If you do that, you will understand what David encouraged thousands of years ago: “Taste and you will see that the Lord is good” – very good!