Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Thanksgiving: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving: Taste and See That the Lord Is Good!

Taste and See That the Lord Is Good!

We are told in the introduction to Psalm 34 that it was written in response to the circumstances surrounding the time that David fled from king Saul fearing for his life. David’s flight took him to a place where no one would have suspected he would go. He went to the Philistine city of Gath, which had been the hometown of the giant Goliath and who had been slain by David about a year previously (I Samuel 17:31-51).

The reference to “when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech” refers to the instance in I Samuel 21:10-15 when David pretended to be a madman before the Abimelech of the Philistines (king Achish; Abimelech is probably the Philistine title for their king. It comes from the Hebrew word Abiymelek (ab-ee-mel'-ek) meaning my father is king. David was given the presence of mind to pretend to be a madman. The Philistines believed madmen were possessed by spirits (gods to them). Therefore, they would never think of harming someone they thought was “mad.”

David was in a difficult position. His own king Saul was trying to kill him (I Samuel 21:10) and so in fled in fear of his life from Saul. In David’s flight of fear from Saul, he ends up in an equally dangerous situation before king Achish. David was in between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Yet God delivered him. It is out of the scenario of that deliverance that we have this Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. It is David’s Hallelujah Chorus.

1 <<A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.>> I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not 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 encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:1-8).

David knew he lived his life in the “valley of the shadow of death.” We all live our lives in the “valley of the shadow of death.” David knew that it was by the grace of God that he had escaped death’s grip once more. This Psalm is a sigh that releases both David’s fear and praise in the same breath. The words of this Psalm flow from a heart that has just been touched by the hand of God.

The construction of this Psalm shows us that God intends it to be used in the instruction of children. We know that because it is one of nine Alphabetical Psalms (the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters in it). Each of the twenty-two (22) verses in this Psalm begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet (these are not apparent in our English translations). Therefore, Psalm 34 is a Psalm of foundational truths.

This is a Psalm intended to instruct children (and baby Christians) in the matters of thanksgiving, praise and worship. The wise Christian will spend much time in Psalm 34 learning its instructions. The uniqueness of this Psalm is that it is intended to provide instruction in these matters as viewed from the perspective of the human experience bathed in the grace of God. Therefore, it is intended to teach that thanksgiving, praise and worship should be taught to our children through the vehicle of the everyday experiences of our lives and their lives. In David’s case, this event with king Saul and king Achish could have gone by without any acknowledgment that God’s grace was the source of David’s deliverance. Sadly, that is what often happens in the events of human history.

Each verse of this Psalm teaches a unique truth all by itself. As a child memorized a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, he also memorized the verse beginning with that letter. As he learned a letter of the alphabet, he learned a concept of truth that transported his thinking beyond the mundane of the mere education of facts to the Throne room of God.

In this, we find a God ordained philosophy of education that is critically lacking in our modern day philosophies of education. This involves the educator in connecting every thought and absolute to the Author of absolutes in God Himself. Creating this connecting link between truth and its Author is the central responsibility of the educator. Regardless of how much knowledge is taught to a child, if that knowledge does not result in the generation of thanksgiving, praise and worship in the one being educated and flowing to the Author of all truth, education has failed. Therefore, any system of education that fails to integrate facts (absolute truths) with the Creator and Author of those truths is an unscriptural method of education.

The responsibility to connect all truth to the Originator of those truths falls on the shoulders of parents. Although we may decide to put our children in the hands of another person to be educated, that does not abrogate our responsibilities to God in any way. In the critical responsibility of raising our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), we had better insure that the person educating our children holds to this God ordain philosophy of education.

This God ordained philosophy of education is what defines our parental responsibilities. This God ordained philosophy of education is also what defines our success or failure as parents. Regardless of what other successes we may achieve in this life, if we have failed to raise children to bring thanksgiving, praise and worship to God for every truth that exists in this world and then serve Him in holiness, we have failed as parents (educators of our children).

This God ordained philosophy of education should also be the ultimate goal of the church in its philosophy of education. This should be the ultimate goal of the home in its philosophy of education. It should also be the ultimate goal of the Christian School in its philosophy of education. It is also the reason why the education of your child in government schools is immediately doomed to failure. It is doomed to failure because in God’s philosophy of education, the educator weaves facts and faith together like a basket weaver. The faith factor cannot be added at some later point. It must be included at the same moment the fact is. They must be woven together.

We also must see that the factual aspect of education plays only a small part compared to the conceptual aspect of education. The conceptual aspect of education fixes our attention on the Creator. The alphabetical letter was important only in its use to communicate truth. The facts of education must centrally be seen as a vehicle to direct our attention to the Author of all truth. Historical or scientific truth does not exist in a vacuum. The central purpose of creation is to direct our attention back to the Creator in that the creation is nothing more than a reflection of His power and glory.

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

That is the concept communicated to us in the words “taste and see that the LORD is good” in Psalm 34:8. It was David’s experience of God’s grace in the everyday struggle of his life that prompts him make this statement. All though it communicates a truth apart from the story of David’s predicament, its spiritual richness lies in the fact it is a real life testimony. It is the testimony of someone who did “taste and see that the LORD is good.”

We can talk about God and giving thanks, praise and worship to Him all day long, but a mere intellectual theology will never generate worship. Thanksgiving, praise and worship must come from the heart, not the head. That will only happen when a believer comes to know God experientially. Thanksgiving, praise and worship are not practices that can be worked up. They must flow from a heart that has seen God work and that knows it was God working. That seldom happens to Rocking Chair Christians.

That is what David is saying in Psalm 34:2, “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD.” The words “shall make her boast” are from the Hebrew word halal (haw-lal'), which literally means to shine. Get the verbal picture that David is weaving in with the facts of his story in the process of education. He is saying, “My soul shines on YAHWEH (the Self-existing One).” Every Hebrew child who learned the Hebrew letter Beth from this Psalm, also learned that his soul should shine on God.

Shining on God is the meaning of bringing God glory. That is the central function of all of God’s creation. We are to be a living testimony to His existence, to His power and to His glory. That was the living testimony of David’s life (soul). Our lives are to make God known as to Who and What He really is. We are to reflect the image of God in all that we say or do.

David says, “The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.” The word “hear” is from the Hebrew word shama` (shaw-mah'). It means to hear with the intent of obeying. The “humble” are the poor, weak and needy. They shall hear the testimony of God’s power and begin to live a life of faith as well. They shall begin to weave their own basket of life out of the facts and faith of those who have already walked through “the valley of the shadow of death” under the Shepherd’s protection and care (Psalm 23).

In Psalm 34:3, David calls all believers to “magnify the LORD with me.” The word “magnify” is from the Hebrew word gadal (gaw-dal'). It means to grow to greatness. However, the greatness is not for personal fame or glory. The motivation for working to excel to greatness is to increase a person’s influence. Increasing influence is like increasing the wattage in your glory to God bulb. That is why this greatness (influence) is directed to “the LORD.”

To “exalt” the “Name” of God is to lift up His Name. When a person returns thanksgiving, praise and worship to God for every success in his life, he lifts up the Name of God like a victor’s banner in a parade. Although the whole army marched in that parade and received the glory of men for their victory, the banner bore the emblem of their king to whom their victory brought honor and glory. The king was their commander and chief. He paid their wages and provided their weapons. He gave them the leadership and direction to win over their enemies. David is saying, “To God be the glory.” He is saying, “Come and worship the LORD with me; join in my jubilation and share in my rejoicing. We have a great God.”

David says, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” David is offering a testimony to God’s grace and power. He is setting a twofold example for us. First, here is what the Lord did for me. He is great. He is wonderful. He is able. Secondly, since He did this for a sinner like me, He will do it for a sinner like you if you will seek Him.

Notice that David’s deliverance was not just a matter of asking. Yes, answered prayer comes only to those who ask, however, God is not a Gum Ball Machine God. You just do not put your quarter in and get what you want. The word “sought” is from the Hebrew word darash (daw-rash'). It was a word that meant to seek deity in prayer and worship. David did not just pray to God because He was in trouble. David sought the Lord’s communion before He sought the Lord’s communication in answered prayer.

Most people really cheapen God’s grace when they use Him as a fire escape from the consequences of their own disobedience and sin. They expect God’s deliverance without even giving a thought to repentance, confession and seeking forgiveness.

David’s encouragement is to “taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” When was the last time you stood up in the midst of God’s people and called them to join you in thanksgiving, praise and worship to the God of your salvation? When was the last time you spontaneously stood before a congregation and gave a testimony to what God did in your life that week, or that day or for anything for that matter? When was it? Is it because God hasn’t been doing anything in your life? Or, is it because you haven’t been doing anything with the life God gave you? If it is one of those two things, either way, it reveals a serious problem with YOU!

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