Recreating the Palate
Psalm 34:8-14
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.…

This confident and jubilant appeal comes at the end of a series of splendid testimonies such as might be heard at many a fervent experience meeting. One man confesses that he had once been enmeshed in multitudinous fears which had crippled his walk towards Zion: "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears!" A group of cheery witnesses testified that in past days their faces had been clouded with sorrow, because the sunshine had gone out of their souls: "They looked unto Him, and were lightened!" One man confessed that he had been in many a tight place, closely beset by powerful temptations: "And this poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." And then it seems as though the individual testimonies merge into one strain of triumphant assurance — "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him." Now, out of these testimonies, and as their consequence, there issues a mighty appeal, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." Do not trust to hearsay! Do not be contented with the testimonies of others, with merely theoretical knowledge! Become experimental, and judge for yourselves! "Taste and see!" But can everybody's palate be trusted to give an accurate judgment? We know that there are serious differences in the powers of discernment in the material palates of men. One man appreciates a flavour which to another is repugnant. One palate can discern an exquisite flavour where another discovers nothing but insipidity. And may the differences not be equally manifest in moral and spiritual spheres? Jonathan Edwards described the moral sense by the figure of a palate, and he regarded it as a faculty by which we are to appreciate the differences between the evil and the good. But can a palate always be trusted? Let us lay down one or two principles which are operative in other realms than the conscience. It is perfectly true that a neglected power becomes atrophied. In art we can impair the artistic palate by communion with bad work. Ruskin is for ever emphasizing the peril of holding communion with bad artistic work. Such communion vitiates the aesthetic conceptions, and their power of fine discernment is impaired. The principle holds true of literature. If we want to keep a delicate literary palate we must maintain our fellowship with the rarest literary products. If, however, we leave the masterpieces, and take up our abode with the unrefined and commonplace, our very power will lose something of its fine perception, and may eventually cease to register any dependable judgment. Is it otherwise with the religious palate? Take what we call the moral sense. Surely our experience justifies the assertion that this particular power can be so neglected and abused by evil communion that its judgments are rendered perfectly untrue. The Bible declares that some men's moral perceptions are so perverted that they call good evil, and evil good. Sweet they call bitter, and bitter they call sweet. They declare that "revenge is sweet," and the mood of forgiveness is stale and flavourless. And surely we may say that even in higher regions still, in the distinctively spiritual, our powers can be so used that we cease to readily apprehend and appreciate God. It is possible for men to "refuse to have God in their thought," and the consequence is that by their own refusal they are "given up" to "a reprobate mind," which may at length leave them in an insensible mood which can only be described as "past feeling." How, then, can we say to these people, "Taste, see that the Lord is good"? What would be the value of their judgment? Can their palate be depended upon? They may taste, and then turn away in sheer indifference. Now a man perfectly well knows when he is destitute of taste for these things. But has he any desire to be different? The appeal of my text is to men and women who have no taste for the highest, but who desire to acquire it. Bring thy neglected or perverted palate, and see what can be done with it! Let me reverse the order of the text, for the key of our difficulty is to be found in the second clause, "Blessed is the man who trusteth in Him." Now, a man can begin with trust in God who has yet no taste for the things of God. Now the text affirms that the assured result of such trust is a condition of blessedness, "Blessed is the man who trusteth in Him." In what does this blessedness consist? Let us redeem it for a moment from all suggestions of futurity, and the maturing of desire in some transfigured and glorified life. The future has vast treasures hid in its secret chambers, and he who trusts in the Lord is heir to them all! "I will restore health unto thee." When we surrender the life to God, the wondrous energies of the Spirit commence the blessed ministry of re-creation, the renewal of tone, and faculty, and function. And in this restoration there is involved the cleansing and refinement of the palate. When we are sickly and diseased we have a distaste for the good, but when the sickliness begins to pass the natural appetite is restored and good food becomes toothsome, blow this is what the Lord accomplishes for those who put their trust in Him. He makes new men of them! We become new men and new women in Christ Jesus, and in that transfigured spiritual life is to be found our eternal blessedness. And so this is my plea to you. At present your higher taste may be a positive distaste; your palate may be perverted and untrue. When you pray you have no delight in the communion. When you sing it provides you no joy. Well now, commit yourself unto the Lord, even though in the committal there be no present delight. Offer Him all the powers of your personality, all the activities in your life, and let them be impressed and governed by His all-controlling will. Trust in Him, and the sickness shall be driven out of your soul, and your restored powers shall begin to be exercised in fine and discerning freedom. And in the general restoration your palate shall share, and you shall acquire a relish for the things that are excellent! You shall have joy in His communion.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

WEB: Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

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