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Aug 30, 2020

Taste and See

Passage: Psalms

Preacher: Jeremy Anderson

Series: Summer Playlist

Detail:

Last weekend Marie and I had the opportunity to go to Indiana and visit with my brother and his wife. While we were there, we decided to swing by Taylor University, where my cousin had just moved in the week before. I was excited to visit Taylor, because I spent a couple years there during my college years.

If you ever visit Taylor University, you have to go to this little ice cream place nearby called Ivanhoe’s. We went there and got all kinds of ice cream. They have 100 different flavors of shakes and sundaes. It’s really unbelievable. We ate dinner, then I grabbed the ice cream menu for my wife and cousin. I set it on the table and said, “Pick what you want and I’ll go stand in line.” Everyone goes there, so there’s always a line.

As I walked away from the table, I turned back and said, “I know there are a lot of options, but I will say their strawberry shortcake is phenomenal. That’s my favorite. The strawberries are sweet, then they add sugar to them and put ice cream on top. But the shortcake itself—oh my goodness, I’ve never had anything like it. When you take a spoonful that includes all three ingredients, it’s the best!”

Do you know what everybody ended up ordering? The strawberry shortcake. All of us had Ivanhoe’s strawberry shortcake and everybody loved it. We had a great time eating it and I was back in the glory days of college. I love being where it felt like home and eating good old Ivanhoe’s ice cream.

Now, everybody took my word for the strawberry shortcake. It could have been terrible or disgusting. You know how it is when you share your experience of something, hoping other people have the same experience. What happens in Psalm 34, which is where we’re going to be spending our time today, is David shares his experience of God with others and with us. He’s going to invite us to “taste and see” that God is good.

There are a lot of Psalms where we’re not too sure about the experience being described of what was going on in the psalmist’s life. But in Psalm 34, there’s an introductory note that tells us this is a psalm of David, “when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.”

If you’re not familiar with this story, it can be found in 1 Samuel 21. David had been fleeing from Saul, who sought to take his life. At one point, David ended up going to Achish, which is another name for Abimelech. Achish is a title, like saying Pharaoh or Caesar.

The people recognized who David was. “Isn’t this the one whom they sing about, who has killed his tens of thousands?” That scared David. We read in 1 Samuel 21:13, “So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.” As a result, King Achish turned to his servants and said, “Don’t I have enough mad men already? Why have you brought this guy to me? Get him out of here!”

Psalm 34 was written as David’s response to this experience, praising God for His deliverance from his enemies. He was also inviting others to taste and see that God is good. We’re all invited today to taste and see the goodness of God. Of course, the Scriptures as a whole have a lot to say about the goodness of God.

You might remember that John says in his Gospel that all the books in the world couldn’t contain all the wonderful things Jesus performed. So to narrow down the goodness of God into one sermon is impossible. His goodness is so vast and magnificent we can’t possibly fully understand it. So today we’re just going to talk about the goodness of God as David described it in this Psalm. If we’re going to taste and see that God is good—just as I invited family to taste and see that the strawberry shortcake at Ivanhoe’s is the most delicious thing they would ever taste—David is going to invite us to taste and see that God is good.

The realities of God’s goodness.

Our attention will first be directed toward the realities of God’s goodness.

His goodness is secure.

David says in Psalm 34:5 that God’s goodness is secure. He wrote, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  I want you to think of some young person you know, or think back to when you were first falling madly in love with your spouse. People would comment, “You have a certain glow about you.” In a similar way, David tells us, “Those who look to God are radiant and they won’t be disappointed.”

In verse seven he says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”  Picture a sitting army around the camp of a king or around the city to keep it secure. In our country right now, I’m not personally worried about foreign powers coming in and wreaking havoc on our streets. I trust that our military will protect us. Similarly, David says God’s goodness is a protection around His people and because of this we are secure.

He continues in verses eight and nine to say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” There is a certainty that comes when we walk with the Lord. Then in verse ten he writes, “The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” David is saying, “Don’t you see that the goodness of God is secure? There is a solidarity to it, a reliability to the goodness of God.”

His goodness is strict.

Then in verses 15-18 he tells us that God’s goodness is also strict. I know that when I talk about God’s goodness being strict, everything that comes to your mind is negative. To us, strict is not a good thing. We think of that teacher we had in school. We think of that parent we think is way too strict. We think of that boss who’s always coming down on us. We think of being strict as a negative character trait.

But in verses 15-18, David says:

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

When I talk about God’s goodness being strict, I’m referring to Scripture’s description of two groups—the righteous and the wicked. There’s never  any mention of a middle group; a person is either one or the other. David tells us that “the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous” to protect and preserve and care for them. But God is against the wicked, “to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”

God’s goodness is strict. One commentary said this:

What a sad and hopeless world it would be if there were no God to call upon, or that if God were a God Who might or might not hear our prayers at all. If He were a God governed by emotions, one day He would hear the prayers of the righteous and the next day He would show favor to the wicked—and then to neither at all. Instead, He answers prayer according to no certain, reliable rule.

Essentially this is saying it’s a good thing God’s goodness is strict, in the sense that He looks toward the righteous and against the wicked. If that were not true, we would have no reason to turn to God at all. We would have no certainty that God would hear our prayers, would answer our prayers or would care for us.

Because God truly is strict, then we have the certainty that when we are redeemed by His Son, He hears our prayers. When we walk in step with Him, He responds. We can know God is looking out for us and has our good in mind—not just our enjoyment. It’s a good thing that God is strict.

Now, His strict goodness doesn’t mean He doesn’t share goodness with the wicked. The Scriptures say that God causes the sun to rise on the wicked and the righteous, and the rain falls on both the good and the evil. God shows His goodness to all. But we can be thankful that His goodness is reliable because He has told us how He executes it.

His goodness is sweeping.

Also, in verses 17 and 19, David indicates to us that God’s goodness is sweeping. In the second part of verse 17 David says, “He delivers them out of some of their troubles,” and in verse 29, “But the Lord deliver him out of most of them.” No. David says, “He delivers them out of all their troubles,” then “But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

It’s important to realize that God’s goodness doesn’t prevent our troubles; it doesn’t keep them from coming. As a matter of fact, the Scriptures tell us very clearly that we will face troubles in this life. There will be troubles we cause ourselves at times, or troubles that will be caused by other people in our lives. There are also troubles that may be circumstantial. Think of Job, who faced many troubles because God gave permission for them to happen. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that God’s goodness will prevent trouble from happening to His people. But David is proclaiming and celebrating the fact that God’s goodness is sweeping as He delivers us from all our troubles.

Let me present to you the “win-win.” When we face troubles in this life, there is a win-win circumstance every single time. The first win is that God physically delivers us from troubles we’re facing in the here and now. Sometimes that doesn’t take place on our timetable or it doesn’t take place in the way we want it to. But God does deliver us from our troubles.

Win number two is that there is a day coming in which we will be delivered from all our troubles as we enter into glory with our Heavenly Father. I’m struck by the account in Daniel 3, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were told to bow down to the idol of King Nebuchadnezzar. They told him, “No, we’re not going to do that.” They were then told they would be thrown into a fiery furnace where they would burn to death. What was their response in Daniel 3:17-18?

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.

As believers, we need to adopt the mindset that God’s goodness is sweeping, so we can have hope and confidence in the fact that although we may suffer in this life, we can trust God to deliver us from all our troubles. That deliverance may not come today or tomorrow or next month. But we have the hope that a day will come when we will be delivered from all trouble. That allows us as believers to have confidence and excitement that God will deliver us, either now or in the day to come. God’s goodness is sweeping.

His goodness is singular and shared.

Lastly, as David outlines the reality of God’s goodness in this Psalm, he reminds us that God’s goodness is both singular and shared. It’s singular in the sense of what we read in verses four and six:. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears… This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.”

David says God’s goodness is singular because He cares personally about you. He hears your prayer, Christian. He hears your cries and  delivers you from your troubles. That’s an encouraging thought. You are not just another number. You are not just a random person who doesn’t mean anything significant. God is listening to your prayers. In His goodness, God cares for you individually and intimately in the circumstances of your life.

His goodness is also shared. Throughout this Psalm, David uses phrases like, “Let us exalt his name together!” (verse three). We see the words “those” and “them” and “together,” referring to groups of righteous people. There is a shared experience of God’s goodness, even when God executes His goodness in a singular capacity. What do I mean by that? When I experience the goodness of God in a singular way—when God answers my prayers and delivers me from my troubles—I don’t hold those things selfishly. David recounts his personal experience in which God heard him and delivered him, then he invites others to come celebrate and worship God together with him. That’s what we’re to do as Christians. We glorify God in a way that makes it all about Him, not just about us and our circumstances or experiences.

Our response to God’s goodness 

As we look at the realities of God’s goodness, they demand a response from us. When we experience God’s goodness, we can’t just go on living like we have—we must respond. How does David respond to God’s goodness in his life?

Revere God with our actions and attitudes.

First and foremost, David revered God with his actions and his attitudes and we should do the same. David opens the Psalm by saying:

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

It’s interesting that David is speaking about the boast of his soul. We boast about things in our lives, but most of the time these things are pretty much only momentarily significant. We’ll brag about our successes or our character traits. But when David speaks about boasting, he says his soul’s boast is not in himself. He could have boasted in himself. Remember the situation he’s referring to here? He had this really great idea of how to escape the king by acting like a lunatic, but it only worked by the grace of God. So rather than pointing to his own genius plan to outwit the people, he gave credit to the Lord. David is acknowledging that what gives him the greatest value, that which he can boast about, is the Lord Himself.

One commentator said, . “This would be his chief distinction, that on which he would value himself. Of all things we can possess in this world, the crowning distinction is that we have a God and that He is such a God as He is.” Our boast is in the reality that we have a God and in the kind of God He is. It’s what sets us apart as Christians—that our God is Who He says He is. He is a good, gracious and merciful God. Let our boast be in Him.  

David goes on to say we should magnify and exalt together. How are we supposed to magnify an infinitely magnificent God? How are we to make higher the God Who created all things and Who rules sovereignly over it all? How do we do that? The simple answer is that we can’t. We can’t make God any greater than He already is. We can’t elevate God to a higher place than where He already is. So why does David give us this invitation? His purpose here is not external, but internal. We need to magnify and exalt our own perception of God’s nature. We need to make Him greater in our lives. We need to put Him in His rightful place. That’s what David is talking about here. To magnify the Lord is to say, “Lord, You are so great in my life. Here’s how my life displays how magnificent You are.”

What in your life displays how magnificent God is? What in your life is giving credibility to how highly you exalt God? What demonstrates these things so others may see Who God is? You see, our attitudes are the source of our actions. If God is not made great in your life, then your life won’t look like Him. So often we start with the morality of things. Even in this Psalm, in verses 12-13, David is teaching others about how to fear the Lord. He says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We often start with the actions of life, but ignore the attitudes. Then we run into problems down the road when things aren’t jibing. We need to remember that our heart attitude is of first importance, then from that will flow the actions of our lives.

A few weeks ago at the Indian Creek campus, we taught from Proverbs 4:23 about guarding your heart: “…for from it flow the springs of life.”  It doesn’t say to guard the springs of life so you’ll protect your heart. Guard your heart, then from it will flow the springs of life. If we’re going to respond to God’s goodness, we should revere Him with our attitudes and actions. They should display just how great God is.

We should also recognize our own shortcomings. In verse 18 David says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  No doubt many commentators believe at this point David is thinking back to his experience when he made a fool of himself. His heart was broken over his own sin. He was taking solace in the fact that God is near the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit.

Believers, as we focus on the magnificent, holy, pure God, it reveals our own shortcomings, blemishes and failures. Our failures and shortcomings should not leave us feeling crushed; rather, they should point us back to the Lord. We so badly want to deal with our actions, but our actions are so quick to fail us. As we look at our shortcomings, I’m reminded of where Paul speaks of the law of God in Galatians 3. We cannot follow the law perfectly and those who try become legalistic. Paul reminds the people in Galatia that the law was given as a tutor to draw us to Christ, so we could be saved by faith. The law showed us our need for a Savior.

As we look at the perfection of God and the requirements of His Word, we realize how badly we fall short. This should drive us to recognize our need to repent and bow the knee to Jesus as our Savior. He came and died and rose again to deliver us from sin and death, thereby giving us new life.

Reveal God’s goodness to others.

The heart of why this Psalm was written is that we are also to reveal God’s goodness to others. David wanted to reveal God’s goodness to other people. When I speak of “other people,” I’m not just talking about unbelievers. I think we need to share God’s goodness with other Christians as well. There are three ways we can reveal God’s goodness to others, as we see in this Psalm.

First, we inform them of God’s goodness through our own lives. That’s what David has done. In verses four and six he speaks of his own experience, how God saved him from his troubles. He’s saying, “Look at what God has done for me. I’ve seen His goodness first hand in my life, so I want you to taste and see that goodness as well.”

We need to pay attention to the times in our lives when God has been good. Sometimes we wait for the really big “God moments” before we’ll say, “Wow, look how great God is.” But we can sometimes ignore His goodness in the day-to-day parts of our lives. I love what one commentary said:

If we have grateful hearts toward God, we shall let slip no occasion which invites us to praise and honor Him—not only those that are new and surprising, that are unusual or extraordinary, but also the common and ordinary works of God. His constant and daily benefits will affect our hearts with a devout and thankful remembrance of Him.

We need to pay attention to God’s goodness, even in the mundane parts of our lives, so that we can testify to His goodness to other people and so we can celebrate and worship God together.

Beyond this, we also need to invite others to experience God’s goodness for themselves. We often invite people to come to church or to some event which is.  are great and we need to do that. But David is inviting other people to come and experience God’s goodness for themselves. They need to experience more than just a corporate gathering of God’s people. Instead, they need to experience God Himself. Throughout this Psalm there’s an invitation as David explains the goodness of God. He says those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces will never be ashamed. He’s calling people to have this experience themselves.

He’s also calling others to experience security, because the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. Verse eight, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  Verse nine, “Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,” —he’s talking to God’s people here— “for those who fear him have no lack!”  Verse ten, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  David is testifying to us about security. These are experiences of God’s goodness.

He goes on to say in verse 15, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.” Experience these things. God will deliver you out of your trouble. He is near you in your brokenness. “Come and experience the goodness of God for yourself. Let me tell you of my experience, and let me invite you to come and do the same.” It’s . like I loved that strawberry shortcake from Ivanhoe’s so much that I . didn’t want to keep it from anyone. I told everybody about it! “You guys have got to try the strawberry shortcake. It’s phenomenal. You’ll love it.”

We do this so often with TV shows or movies or vacation spots. We’ll say, “I had such a great time there. I loved this show. You should watch it.” It’s easy for us to invite people to experience those things, but we need to invite people to experience God’s goodness as well.

Lastly, we get to the point where David is instructing others how to experience His goodness. We share it. We inform people of our own experiences. We invite people to experience it for themselves. Then we have to explain how to go about experiencing this. This is where we get into verses 13 and 14, as David gives some of the moral instruction:. “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” There is a practicality to this. David is saying, “If you want to experience the goodness of God, don’t be a liar. If you want to experience the goodness of God, quit doing evil things and start doing good things.” We bring a lot of trouble on ourselves by our own sinful actions.

When we instruct others on how to experience the goodness of God, we deal with morality. We outline the life God has called us to. It’s important.  to follow God and do things His way. It would not make sense to say, “Experience all the blessings and goodness of God, but don’t do anything the way He said to do it.” Morality is important, but it needs to be more than just morality. We need to talk about redemption. Again, this is not just for the unbeliever. Even believers need to remind each other of our redemption so we can celebrate it together.

When we do talk about redemption with an unbeliever, we need to talk about repentance. We need to talk about redemption, about being purchased with a price and being made new. We need to talk about repentance, recognizing our sinfulness and turning from it to follow the Lord. These are important things.

Verse 18 speaks of being broken and crushed in spirit. What things are going to break us and crush our spirits? David was crushed by the realization of his own foolishness. Many commentators believe David did not act in righteousness when he made a fool of himself. , yet in the midst of that, God was still gracious and merciful to deliver him.

 Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God's goodness 

As we move to the end of this Psalm, verses 20-22, David says this:

20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

David is speaking of the Redeemer here and we need to talk about Him as well. There is One Who has come to redeem us from our sins—to make things right—and that is Jesus Christ. We recognize that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s goodness. Verse 20 says, “He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

John 19:31-36 says:

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken."

This Psalm was used to identify our Savior, Jesus. He went to the cross. He laid down His life. His bones were not broken. He’s the Redeemer. He’s the One who could bring forgiveness of sins and grant righteousness, so He could extend grace and mercy. It’s in Jesus that we have the revelation of the character of God. Jesus is good. Jesus is faithful. Jesus is the One Whom it’s all about.

If we have tasted and seen that God is good, then we cannot go on living as if nothing has happened. That is a goodness that, when we taste it and see it, it changes our lives fundamentally—who we are and how we interact with this world, how we worship God. When we experience His goodness, it demands a response.

We’re familiar with leaving reviews on products and places. We’re familiar with telling friends and family about our experiences with a TV show or a place we went on vacation. But I want to challenge you that your life is a living, breathing review of the goodness of God. What kind of review are you leaving? Are you leaving a review that points the credit and glory to God? Are you leaving a review that’s inviting other people to come and experience His goodness for themselves and telling them how to do that? That’s what David has done for us and we have the same blessing of getting to taste and see God’s goodness because so many before us have said it’s worth it—and it is good!

  


Village Bible Church  |  847 North State Route 47, Sugar Grove, IL 60554  |  (630) 466-7198  |  www.villagebible.org/sugar-grove

All Scriptures quoted directly from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Note: This transcription has been provided by Sermon Transcribers (www.sermontranscribers.com).