On three very specific occasions, I’ve wished I could eat more. I had friends growing up that had the ability to consume large quantities of food. I was never one of those guys. However, the three times that I’ve visited Brazilian steakhouses, I’ve tried my best to match my big-eating friends. Even though the bliss of having large quantities of meat brought right to my plate brought great joy, the longer this eating-binge lasted the less joy I had. You see, the greater in frequency I experienced the meat, the worse I felt.
From Psalm 34:8, David presents the complete opposite of my eating experience. David shares with us that the greater we experience God, the more we will enjoy Him. David demonstrates for us three, provoking reasons to experience God.
The Plan to Experience God
This simple verse starts off with two imperatives. David invokes two of our senses as means to experience God. David presents us with a physical metaphor to drive home a spiritual truth.
“Taste and See”
Before we explore the depths of these two words, we must consider David’s vantage point. The nature of these imperatives is inclusive. Depending on where you are in the south, you could express these imperatives like this: “Y’all taste and see this.” This plural, inclusive imperative suggests that the person giving the command is partaking of what he’s offering.
Growing up as an only child, I was not accustomed to sharing my food. As I grew up, when I went out to eat with friends or Megan, I not only didn’t want to share my food but also certainly did not want them to share their food with me. I was fine with my selection. My brother in law, Peter, is just the opposite. Anytime we’ve eaten together, he wants to share his food and have others share their food with him. If Peter has something that he thoroughly enjoys, he then strongly desires others to experience the goodness that he’s enjoying.
Just like my brother-in-law, Peter, wanted us to taste and see how good his food is, David wants us to taste and see how good God is.
These two verbs, although expressing different senses, convey very similar meanings. Essentially, these verbs describe perceiving or experiencing. To aid us in our understanding of these commands lets take a look at a NT example and an OT example.
New Testament Example
1 Peter 2:2-3 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Peter uses a very vivid illustration to convey experiencing God. Like babies long for milk, Peter says we ought to long for God. However, this illustration demonstrates a very similar picture to what we’ve already seen in Psalm 34. Now, we will look at two OT examples to further expand our understanding of “Taste and See.”
Old Testament Examples
Proverbs 31:18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
Interestingly the same word in Psalm 34 used to describe the taste is used to portray perceiving in Proverbs 31. Notice how she, the virtuous woman, is intimately aware of the value of her merchandise. Let’s also take a look at Isaiah 6:9 to address the sense of seeing
Isaiah 6:9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Similarly, God relays to Isaiah the connection between seeing and perceiving. The people of Israel are described to hear but not understand and to see but not perceive. Whether it’s tasting or seeing, the end result is an intimate experience. Our challenge with the plan to experience God is not that we don’t understand what it means to taste and see but our actual experiencing God himself.
I asked this week on Facebook ways or moments people experience or have experienced God. The answers varied from dark, difficult moments to routines and daily practices. I don’t have the time to describe all the ways experiencing God is possible, yet, I want to direct you to a couple questions based on what we’ve covered
- How often does a newborn baby cry for her mother’s milk?
- What is the only thing that will satisfy that newborn baby?
- How regularly and deeply are you experiencing God?
The greater we experience God the more we will enjoy Him. Since David invites us to taste and see God means that we can actually experience an intimate relationship with Him. Since Romans 11:36 tells us that “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever,” then we can experience and enjoy God through the objects and subjects He’s given us. The splash of the ocean on our faces and the words of Scripture are both means to tasting and seeing God. Our invitation to taste and see God provides our plan to experience God. However, David also demonstrates the product of experiencing God.
The Product of Experiencing God
David’s invitation to experience God is based both on His experience but even more so the product of experiencing. Notice David’s reflection: “The Lord is good”
What moved David to say the God is good?
Psalm 34:4-7 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
There’s so much that could be said here in relationship to these verses. Notice these points:
- David calls out to God and what does God do? Answer
- David longs for God to protect Him and what does God do? Delivers and saves him.
That’s why David summarizes his concept of God’s goodness in this manner:
Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Essentially, David’s plan to experience God is entirely based on the product of experiencing God. You see, David wants you to greatly experience God so that you will only enjoy Him more.
I have very fond memories of giving my kids tastes of certain foods for the first time. When they would react to lemons in particular always brought me to tears laughing. When I would try to give them more, they would turn away. However, I also fondly remember when we gave Nolan ice cream. He responded with a strong desire for more because how good is experience was.You see the greater we experience God the more we will enjoy him. The more Nolan was given Ice cream the more He desired it. David’s plan to experience God directly connects to the product of experience God. Yet, David leaves us with another provoking reason to enjoy God: The promise for experiencing God.
The promise for experiencing God
“Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
David’s promise highlights a result and an action. First, David calls this person “blessed.” “Blessed refers overwhelmingly to the distinctive religious joy which accrues to man from his share in the salvation of the kingdom of God” Notice these two examples that broaden our idea of being “blessed.
Deuteronomy 33:29 Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.” Israel is blessed or “happy” due to God’s work on their behalf.
Now, notice how “blessed” is described in Romans 4.
Romans 4:1-8 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
In this case, albeit different, blessedness is connected to God’s salvation. However, this experience of salvation is not from physical enemies but sinful actions. So, what we are seeing here is that blessedness, whether in the OT or NT, is in direct relationship to the work of God as it pertains to our physical and spiritual deliverance. To no one’s surprise then, look at what David describes is the action that leads to this blessedness: “…the man who takes refuge in him!”
Look at these OT examples of taking refuge:
1 Samuel 20:5 David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening
Psalm 61:5 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
These examples demonstrate the physical and spiritual nature of refuge. The New Testament likens “hope” to the idea of “taking refuge.” This means when the Psalmist conveys his desire to “take refuge” under the shelter of God’s wings, he’s expressing a hope or a desire that God will take care of him. Follow me to Titus 2 to see how Paul expresses what “taking refuge” looks like for us today
Titus 2:13-14 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Remember, Blessed refers overwhelmingly to the distinctive religious joy which accrues to man from his share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. What we find here, as the promise for experiencing God, is that we will ultimately and completely be saved. So, what we are attempting to taste and see now, we will get to experience for all eternity.
When I would go out to eat at those Brazilian steakhouses, my main disappointment was my inability to enjoy more of what I greatly experienced. This verse shows us that the greater we experience God the more we will enjoy Him. His plan (taste and see), product (His goodness), and promise (eternal presence) guarantee that we can enjoy God forever.
 Jenni, E., & Westermann, C. (1997). Theological lexicon of the Old Testament (p. 197). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.