Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family gatherings, fellowship, faith, fun and, food! With steam rising off the tender turkey and creamy butter slithering a path through the mashed potatoes, we enjoy, we savor, we sing the praises of the goodness of the delicious meal. “Mmmmmmm!!” “This is so good!” “Taste this!” We can hardly contain our praise!
In Psalm 34:8, David speaks as though he were sitting at a Thanksgiving meal when he abounds with praise and proclaims, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! “ David is not nonchalantly asking us to know a few things about God; he is begging us to taste the feast of God’s goodness. Tasting requires a genuine experience so that we can authentically assess from the experience, “The Lord is indeed good!”
But do we always deem good that which is tasted or experienced?
There are few things more disheartening at a meal than to hear those discouraging words, “Yuck! I don’t like this!” It is frustrating, to say the least! Yet, when our good and sovereign Father prepares “meals” for us that we would have never chosen for ourselves, how often do we want to cry out, “I don’t like this at all!”?
When David penned this psalm, we have hints that he could have said those very words regarding his circumstances. He needed deliverance from fears (Psalm 34:4). He needed to be saved from his troubles (Psalm 34:6). He needed a refuge (Psalm 34:8). This psalm seems all too relevant to our day, does is not? Fears and suffering have always been part and parcel to life in a sin-laden, fallen world.
There are many things that may make us afraid. We may fear:
- Our future. Does watching the news inspire a heart full of fear?
- Our health. Do you worry constantly about your health or whether or not your health insurance will be there for you when your health inevitably fails?
- Our finances. Does your security ebb and flow according to your bank statements?
- Our standing with others. Does the opinion and approval of others keep you in performance-driven bondage?
David had many fears, but he also needed saving from trouble and suffering. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be physical, emotional, relational, financial, and even spiritual. Pain, chronic illness, loss, grief, besetting sins, betrayal, conflict, and chaotic circumstances are just a few examples of circumstances of suffering that we may face.
These troubles and fears force us to seek for a refuge. A refuge is a source of help, relief, or comfort in times of trouble, danger, or hardship. In Psalm 46:1, God promises to be “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Where do you run for refuge?
David looked to the Lord in his trouble and was able to say through the experience, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”
Suffering doesn’t often inspire words like these. So how can we, like David, declare the goodness of God right smack in the middle of difficulty? There is often an unexpected sweetness that can only be found in these trying circumstances.
Have you ever seen a toddler eat a sour patch kid? They see the bright, sugary, fun-shaped candy and immediately toss it into their little mouths. They expect sweetness and are shocked when they find….sour. Yet if they endure, the sour gives way to sweet.
Sometimes life can seem so sour that it can seem impossible to find the sweet. I speak from fresh experience. What do we do when we want to push away the plate that God lovingly prepared for us and say, “I do not like this at all!”?
There is an unexpected sweetness in these very sour experiences that you may not ever enjoy unless you keep enduring through your sour. God reveals Himself during these times when we most need His care. In our psalm, verse 7 includes this unexpected sweetness when it says, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Who is this angel of the LORD? The first place we find this phrase in Scripture is in Genesis 16 with the story of Hagar. Hagar had run from her trouble and was alone and fearful in the wilderness when the “angel of the LORD” met her there. He found her, encouraged her, and promised blessings to her. Verse 13 says, “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” This angel of the LORD was none other than God Himself, revealing Himself as El-Roi, the God who looks after us.
When we are suffering, we often feel alone, abandoned, uncared for, and unseen by God. In these moments, take those doubting thoughts captive and replace them with truth about His character as El-Roi. Remember that the angel of the LORD, El-Roi, is setting up camp around you with His watchful eye upon you, ready to look to your needs. His character is our refuge. Look to Him until your sour suffering bursts forth into the sweetness of comfort and restful trust.
The second place we find the angel of the LORD is in Genesis 22. This is the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice his son, Isaac. As Abraham was raising the knife over Isaac, it was the angel of the LORD who intervened and provided a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. Verse 11 says, “So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The LORD will provide.’” In this vignette, God reveals himself as Jehovah-Jireh, the LORD who provides.
When in the death grip of fear, struggling to believe that God will provide all that is needed, take your fearful thoughts captive and replace them with precious truths about His character as Jehovah-Jireh. Remember that the angel of the LORD, Jehovah-Jireh, is encamped around you, ready to give Himself and His generous provisions. His character is our refuge. Look to Him until your bitter anxiety melts into the sweetness of peace and security!
The Sweetest Provision
As you look to Him, cast your gaze on the one place that His goodness to you is best tasted. Look to the cross! Jehovah-Jireh delivered Isaac by providing a substitute for the sacrifice. The greater deliverance comes to us when God provided our substitute in His own Son. He saved us from the worst kind of trouble, namely His holy wrath against sin, and provided the righteousness we most desperately need.
El-Roi met Hagar in the wilderness to ensure her that he saw her in her suffering and would look to her needs. The greater encouragement comes to us when we realize that when the Father turned His face away from Jesus, it was to ensure that He would never take His eyes off of us in our suffering nor fail to give what is needed to endure.
He sees. He cares. He provides. As we savor the sweetness of this profound goodness, let us, like David in Psalm 34, spill over with praise and thanksgiving to the One who is indeed good!
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Have you tasted His goodness?