Last month we noted David’s enthusiastic exhortation, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Ps:34:8). When David wrote this psalm
, he was a fugitive from King Saul, who was searching with an army to kill him. Yet his heart was filled with rejoicing as he continued to trust and praise God. How was that possible under such circumstances?
Taste God! Is that what gives faith to trust Him? What did David mean?
Clearly, he was not referring to taste buds in the mouth, much less to physically eating God, who is a Spirit (Jn:4:24).
Jesus quoted Deuteronomy:8:3 to Satan in His temptation: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mat:4:4). Obviously, He didn’t mean that God has a literal mouth. Though conveyed by means of something physical, words themselves are not physical. Eating the pages of the Bible would not bring the truth written thereon into the heart—it would only cause indigestion in the stomach.
Neither David nor Jesus was denying (as do Christian Science and other Mind Science cults, Hinduism, New Ageism, etc.) the reality of the physical world. They were not teaching that our minds create our circumstances. They were using material things as illustrations in order to lead us into spiritual reality. How else can God convey spiritual truth to us when all we know is the observable universe? And therein we have a problem.
We must take care not to make the mistake of Nicodemus. When told that he had to be “born again” to enter heaven, this astute rabbi thought Christ was referring to biological birth. Incredulous, he demanded, “How can a man…enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (Jn:3:3-4).
Jesus replied, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (Jn:3:12). As long as we remain in these bodies, descriptions of familiar physical things provide the only language available for teaching heavenly things that we do not yet know.
What does it mean to “taste” God? Of course, David was not speaking of anything physical being ingested into our stomachs! “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn:4:24). David could only have been using a physical illustration to refer to something spiritual: a deepening appreciation of God in the process of worshiping Him in spirit and in truth as Jesus said we must.
Yet literally chewing and swallowing the paper pages of Scripture would be no more absurd than imagining one was chewing and swallowing the literal body and blood of Christ at a Roman Catholic Mass. Although Jesus said, “He that eateth me...shall live by me” (Jn:6:57), Catholicism teaches that He meant eating His physical body and drinking His physical blood. So the priest, by the magic of “transubstantiation,” supposedly turns a wafer and wine into the literal body and blood, soul, spirit, and divinity of Christ—which misses entirely what Christ meant.
The wafer (supposedly now “God”) is worshiped and then eaten! A large wafer is put in a monstrance and paraded before worshiping crowds, then left on display in a church for the faithful to bow before it and spend time “in Christ’s presence”! Sadly, those who thus grasp at the physical rob themselves of the spiritual truth and blessing Christ intends.
And what about non-Catholics by the millions who also fail to realize the joy and strength of the spiritual truth the Word of God conveys? Dutifully attending church on Sunday morning is all they know of God, while His Word lies neglected much if not all of the week and is rarely meditated upon in the heart. May David’s challenge move us deeply, and may we enter into what he meant: “O taste and see that the LORD is good!”
Worship is not a repetitious exercise of rituals and formulas. These create a veil that actually prevents us from enjoying the presence of the Lord. Worship is the heart poured out in gratitude and awe, expressing our appreciation of who He is and what He has done for us by His grace through Jesus Christ.
David said, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps:16:11). That is not the pleasure and joy of this world but of heaven. Those who love this world and feed upon its pitiful attempts at satisfying human longings would be uncomfortable in heaven and would not consider it a place of pleasure and joy at all.
We cannot “taste and see that the LORD is good” without having a taste for Him. A taste for God, as for anything else, must be developed. How? By an act of the will, we begin with obedience to the very first command: “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut 6:5; Mat:22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27). How can we do this?
We follow God’s instructions: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut 6:6-9; 30:6, 16-20).
With “all thine heart…all thy soul…all thy might,” leaves nothing for any competitors for my affections. May I not love my wife, my children? Yes. Every love is legitimate that is in harmony with my love for God; every affection is blessed that deepens my love for Him; every pursuit into which I invest my strength is to His glory that is in harmony with God’s will. My life and that of my family is to revolve around my love for God, and His Word is to be the subject of our conversation continually. What a glorious life!
David didn’t develop his taste for the Lord in a day. He fed upon the Word of God until to him God’s “judgments” (i.e., His statutes) were “Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps:19:10).
The quotables this month are from authors who lived in past centuries. One stands in awe of some of these writers. How did they develop such a deep under-standing and appreciation, such an appetite for God and His Word, that most Christians lack today? They invested time, effort, and devotion in communion with God and in meditating deeply upon His Word—time that few are willing to invest today because loving God is not high on their list of priorities.
God did not promise to reveal Himself to the casually curious but to those who would seek Him with “all [their] heart” (Jer:29:13). Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart…” (Jer:15:16). Sadly, the actual words God spoke are no longer palatable to many of those who call themselves Christians. Indeed, few today know what the genuine Word of God tastes like.
We are raising a generation on the spiritual junk food of religious videos, movies, youth entertainment, and comic book paraphrases of the Bible. The Word of God is being rewritten, watered down, illustrated, and dramatized in order to cater to the taste of the carnal mind. That only leads further into the wilderness of doubt and confusion.
We are being led away from the Word of God (upon which, by faith, we must feed) through “dynamic equivalency” paraphrases, supposedly more easily digested “translations” such as The Message by Eugene Peterson (to which we’ve referred in the past) that cast aside the sacred words from God’s mouth and put men’s words in their place. Nelson Publishing’s Revolve Bible for teenage girls is designed like a fashion magazine, because the real Bible is “too big and freaky looking.” Not to lose a lucrative market, Zondervan created True Images for teen girls and Revolution for teenage boys.
Retreating even further from the pure written Word that came from God’s mouth, “Christian” movies claim to make the Bible more interesting and dynamic by having it acted out on the screen (including actors playing the part of Christ himself and thus pretending to be “God manifest in the flesh”). The words that “proceed from the mouth of God” are being trashed, and in their place we are being given words that proceed from men’s minds. How can we check the validity of what is being taught in the church today? The Bereans checked Paul’s message by searching the Scriptures daily (Acts:17:11)—but those are being taken from us and the words of men put in their place.
When David referred to God’s Word as “Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps:19:10), what did he mean? The Bible is literally filled with such metaphorical expressions, none of which is intended to be taken literally but spiritually. This is true from Genesis to Revelation, with a consistency from different authors both in the method and message that furnishes overwhelming proof of the Bible’s divine origin.
When the Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” he meant neither a physical light nor a physical path. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God” (Ps:42:1-2). Surely the Psalmist does not mean that literal water such as a deer drinks would quench the thirst of the soul. He is referring to a spiritual drinking of God by faith—a deepening appreciation of God through meditation upon His written word and communion in the Holy Spirit.
Christ told the woman at the well, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…” (John:4:13-14). Obviously, the “water” Christ gives has nothing to do with quenching physical thirst—nor is it to be sprinkled upon anyone, but we are to drink it. It would do no good for a priest to “bless” physical water and call it “holy water.” Holiness is a spiritual reality to which the physical can never attain: the two exist in different realms.
Unquestionably, the term “drink” shows human responsibility. Almost the last words by Christ in Scripture were, “And whosoever will…take the water of life freely” (Rev:22:17). He provides the water of life; we must drink it. Are you and I drinking of God and of Christ moment by moment? Can we say with the Psalmist, “so panteth my soul after thee, O God”?
O taste and see! This is David’s cry under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to all of us. He tasted and wanted us to enter into the same “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” That this truth receives no help from an artist’s rendering of “Christ” or an actor “playing” Jesus in a religious movie is made more than clear: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pt 1:8). Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn:20:29). We are literally being robbed of this Christ-promised blessing when well-meaning artists paint pictures of “Jesus” and actors attempt to portray Him on the screen.
When Scripture declares, “But we see Jesus” (Heb:2:9), it does not refer to earthly portrayals. “Having not seen” with our physical eyes, but looking with the eyes of faith, we adore Him and become more and more like Him: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor:3:18). Yes, it takes much time to meditate upon God’s Word and to commune in prayer with Christ and feed upon “the living bread” (Jn:6:51). And the more time we spend in this pursuit, the sweeter He will be to our taste.
How did David know that in God’s presence is “fulness of joy [and] pleasures for evermore” (Ps:16:11)? Had he already been to heaven? God had become so real and precious to David that his passion was, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple [I will] offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing…praises unto the LORD” (Ps:27:4-6). Of course, he did not mean an earthly house or temple such as Solomon would build, nor did he mean a physical beauty of the Lord.
But wouldn’t it have helped David to have some great artist’s rendering that supposedly resembled God to look upon? No! Such idolatry would have led him astray and is an abomination, because God is a Spirit and has no physical form. Thus, any attempt at physical depiction is forbidden.
Yet it is an established custom in the Roman Catholic Church and even among the vast majority of evangelicals to have “pictures” of God “manifest in the flesh [Christ]” (1 Tim:3:16) painted by famous artists—pictures that don’t even look alike, are pure speculation, and thus could only be misleading. Furthermore, such pictures attempt to depict Christ as He looked before His crucifixion and resurrection, whereas He doesn’t look like that anymore but as He appeared to John (Rev:1:12-18). Indeed, Paul declared, “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Cor:5:16).
David explains in this psalm what it means to taste and see that the Lord is good. We seek Him, look to Him, and cry to Him in our need, and we trust Him no matter how impossible the situation or how deep the valley of testing. Thus we experience the intimacy of His loving care, protection, and provision, causing His praise to be continually on our lips. TBC