Psalm 34:8


There are two things in this exhortation.

I. A CALL TO MAKE TRIAL OF RELIGION. The spirit of religion is, "The Lord is good." But how are we to know this? Not by hearing, or inquiring, or believing on the word of others, but by making trial for ourselves. This is in accordance with reason and practical experience. Experience is found on experiment. The knowledge thus acquired can be safely acted upon. So it is in human life. It is the friend we have found kind and helpful in time of need that we trust. So it is also in religion. "Taste and see:" this is the settled order. If we act in this way, the result will be sure, and we shall joyfully add our witness to that of others, "The Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." This call, "Taste and see," is the call of Christ in the gospel. Those who hear it must make a choice. They must hear or refuse. But considering who it is that gives the call, and the manifold and powerful arguments by which it is enforced, surely it would be wise and reasonable to take Christ at his word, and to make honest trial of his religion. "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching whether it be of God" (John vii, 17, Revised Version). Try the word, try prayer, try the Christian life, try if Christ is to be trusted; not until you have done this can you say whether God is good or not.

II. A CHARGE TO LIVE UP TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD OF RELIGION. "Oh, fear the Lord, ye his saints." This is due to God. We are not our own, to live as we like. We belong to God, and are bound to live according to his Law. God says to us, "Ye are my witnesses." This is necessary to our true welfare. The very name "saints" implies that we have been separated from the world, that we have been called unto holiness. But holiness and happiness are indissoluble. The more we "fear God" the more shall we advance in holiness, and the more we advance in holiness the more shall we enjoy of true happiness. "Want" there will be to us, but we will be content to know that God is with us, and that he will withhold no "good thing" from us (Psalm 84:11; Hebrews 4:16). This is the best way of commending religion to others. We influence others more by example than by precept. The more perfectly we live and act as God's saints, keeping truth and doing right always, serving others in love, following peace and holiness, in a word, the more perfectly we live and act in the spirit of Christ, the greater will be our influence for good in the world. What we have tried and found good, we can honestly commend. What we have proved, and are continually showing in its beneficent effect on our own character and life, to be of the highest worth and virtue, must have a powerful claim to the faith of all reasonable and right thinking men. Let men say of a Christian, "If there be a saint on earth, that is one;" and the next thing will be, "If Jesus could make such a character, is not this the Christ?" - W.F.







O taste and see that the Lord is good.
Homilist
I. A CALL TO THE ENJOYMENT OF DIVINE GOODNESS (ver. 8). Two things are necessary to the enjoyment of this goodness:

1. Freedom from a sense of guilt.

2. A sense of true gratitude.

(1)Enjoying God's goodness involves trust in Him.

(2)Trust in Him ensures true blessedness.

II. A CALL TO HIGHER RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE (vers. 9, 10). We are to follow on to know the Lord, to forget "the things that are behind, and press on to the things that are before." "There is no want to them that fear Him."

1. Want is a calamity.

2. The higher the religious experience the less liability to want.

III. A CALL TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF EXPERIENCE. (ver. 11).

1. The highest teaching is the teaching of the Lord.

2. Youth is the best season for this teaching.

3. Teaching children religion is worthy the dignity of the greatest men.

IV. A CALL TO OBEY THE CONDITIONS OF LONGEVITY (vers. 12-14).

1. Men desire long life.

2. Moral excellence is conducive to long life.

(Homilist)

This is the language of experience, and that of no common character. The psalmist desires that all who might be partakers of his trial might be sharers in his deliverance. He tells us —

I. OF HIS EXPERIENCE. Paul, as David, speaks of having "tasted of the heavenly gift." The word is most emphatic, for the sense of taste includes most of the others — sight and smell and touch. And certainly it is so in spiritual things. There are among those who are called Christians three distinct classes. There are, first, those who hear without seeing; there are those who both hear and see, without tasting; and there are those in whom all three combine — to whom "faith cometh by hearing," in whom faith groweth by seeing, in whom faith is perfected and consummated by tasting.

II. THE INVITATION. Those who have had the experience of the psalmist cannot but desire it for others.

III. THE BLESSING. Such a man is blessed, even in the trust itself; and the blessing is one which not even the errors of his own weak judgment shall destroy, which not even the infirmity of his own frail purpose shall impair.

(Thomas Dale, M. A.)

The psalms are placed in the centre of the Bible, like the heart in the centre of the body. The heart is the seat of life. The psalms are the life of religion. Other parts of the Bible describe religion, but the psalms are religion itself. He who reads them sincerely cannot but be religious; and he who appropriates them to himself will find life, health and energy imparted to his whole spiritual being.

I. As INVITATION. "O taste and see," etc. It is not see and taste. Before we taste a substance we generally look at it. But here, we must taste before we can see. There must be a relish for Divine things before we can see and enjoy God. That which we are to see is — "that the Lord is good." The Christian knows and feels this. He sees it in Nature, in his own frame, the structure of the body, its union with the soul. And in that soul itself, and, especially, its redemption by Christ.

II. THE CHARACTER REFERRED TO — the man that "trusteth" in God. It is not knowledge, intellect, eloquence, believing, or even power to work miracles, or to show a martyr's zeal, but trust is that which is here spoken of. Confidence in God is meant. Even amongst men this has great power. What will even man do for another in whom he trusts? What will not that woman do for the man in whom she confides?

III. THE BLESSING PROMISED. It is more the statement of a fact than a promise, for the man is blessed who trusts in God. By the very action upon his own mind and heart of the trust he places in God. It gives the soul a holy boldness, a sure peace. And not only is he blessed in himself, but he becomes a blessing to others. His light shines before men so that they, too, glorify God.

(W. Blood, M. A.)

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.)

I. WE ARE REMINDED THAT THE LORD IS GOOD. He is originally, essentially, unchangeably, supremely good. I feel at a loss to express how good He is. What immense families does God continually provide for in air and earth and seal And chiefly is His goodness seen in the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him let all the contrite, the troubled, the tempted come and find help. And all this for sinners.

II. THE BEST WAY OF KNOWING THIS GOODNESS IS BY TASTING IT. That is — apply it, make trial of it and prove it for yourselves. There is such a thing as experimental religion. Many have full knowledge of the theory of religion, but no experience of it. They have long known its truths, but never felt their power. Oh, the miseries of preaching to such persons, who need no information — these, who feel no emotion. Oh, what a perpetual contradiction is there between your creed and your conduct! You are not happy; and yet, somehow or other, you contrive not to be miserable! But this is not the case with all: there are some who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious." You know that the Lord is good by your own experience. Now, you will observe, that we, at first, seek for the blessings of salvation, only from a sense of our sin and guilt; for we have not enjoyed them before. But after we have possessed, then we desire them, not only from a sense of want, but also from a sense of relish and remembrance. Yes; then we call to mind what we have been favoured with, and long for more. Then, secondly, it produces a fuller conviction of the truth of these things. Now, I think, I can trust any poor unlettered man in the presence of the most subtle philosopher, who would endeavour to persuade him that honey was sour, and that gall was sweet. Why, he would say to the tempter, — "would you argue me out of my very senses? You may reason — you may ridicule; but you can never convince me."

III. THE INVITATION TO INDUCE OTHERS TO ACQUIRE THIS KNOWLEDGE FOR THEMSELVES. "O taste and see that the Lord is good; .... Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Now, this "tasting" has several things connected with it.

1. This is very distinguishable from party zeal. There are some individuals who are never satisfied without bringing others over to their own peculiar views and feelings. It is not enough for them that persons should follow Christ, they must walk with them.

2. This invitation is distinguishable from mere relative affection, for it must reach others; it must extend to strangers. To care for our own is most praiseworthy, but our care must not stop there.

3. We must expect reproach in giving this invitation. There is something very singular in this. Who are censured for their attempts to relieve others by charity? They are not considered as interferers, if they venture to heal the sick, or feed the hungry. If persons do not approve of the manner, they give them credit for the deed. And yet when you endeavour to save others you are considered as busybodies. Oh, they will say, "You go to heaven your own way, let us go our way. We do not interfere with you: be as religious as you please, but keep your religion to yourselves." A man cannot keep his religion to himself. If he has any, it will manifest itself. "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard."

(W. Jay.)

1. Consideration of this subject has a tendency to fix our minds in a state of tranquillity and satisfaction. Perfect goodness is at the head of the world; and, therefore, all may be expected to take place in it that the most benevolent mind can desire.

2. The goodness of God is the proper object of our warmest praises. We must be lost in insensibility if we can contemplate it without feeling ourselves prompted to adoration and thanksgiving.

3. The goodness of God shows us the folly and baseness of sin. All moral evil is an abuse of the love, and disobedience to the authority, of that Being who is always doing us good, and whose character comprehends in it every excellence which can be a reason for affection and veneration.

4. The goodness of God ought to be imitated by us. No being can have a higher or nobler ambition. Thus shall we be His genuine offspring, and secure His particular favour and protection.

5. The goodness of God should engage us to put our trust in Him. How should the reflection that He reigns revive our hearts, and dissipate our anxieties I What may we not hope for from His boundless goodness! How safe are all our interests under His management!

(R. Price, D. D.)

Though God be infinitely good in Himself, and in the dispensation of the fruits of tits goodness unto all His creatures; yet tits distinguishing goodness and blessings are extended only to whom He manifests Himself in another way than He doth unto the world, and who believe on His Son according to the Gospel.

I. THESE BEHOLD AND EXPERIENCE THE GOODNESS OF HIS NATURE. "God is love. In this was manifested," etc. Would you have just views of it, endeavour to share in its blessed effects. We may say of God's goodness, what Christ said to the woman of Samaria: "If thou knewest the gift of God," etc. How refreshing and satisfying must be the experience of the Divine goodness and love; concerning which the prophet Jeremiah foretells, "they shall come and flow together" (Jeremiah 31:12-14).

II. TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN HIS ATTRIBUTES. His condescending grace was manifested toward you, when you were altogether unworthy of His favour. His clemency appears in the moderating the necessary chastisements which He sees needful to inflict.

III. TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD IN HIS DISPENSATIONS, BOTH OF PROVIDENCE AND GRACE. "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth."

1. Every blessing, every change, every bereavement shall be sanctified to you, and work together for your good.

2. You may also behold and experience that the Lord is good in the dispensations of His grace.

IV. TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN HIS ORDINANCES. Every Divine institution is a conduit through which He conveys His best blessings; a market place wherein they get spiritual provisions; a sanctuary where they behold His power and glory.

V. TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD IN HIS COVENANT. What admirable goodness hath God displayed in entering anew into covenant with us, after we had broken the first covenant. It is the covenant of peace, of love and of life; the covenant of hope, and of the promises confirmed by the death of Christ and sealed with His blood. All good and nothing but good, grace and glory, with every good is to be found here.

(W. McCulloch.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. SOMETHING ASSUMED. That "the Lord is good."

1. God is infinitely good.

2. Independently good.

3. Absolutely good.

4. Unchangeably good.

5. Universally good.

6. Eternally good.

II. SOMETHING IMPLIED. That the goodness of the Lord may be seen and tasted.

1. In the creation.

2. In the provision made for all creatures.

3. In the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ.

4. In the means of grace.

5. In the rewards of heaven.

III. SOMETHING ENJOINED. "O taste and see," etc. This invitation, request, or admonition is —

1. Divine in its origin.

2. Reasonable in its nature.

3. Pleasurable in its exercise.

4. Profitable in its result.Inferences: —

1. There is something more in religion than the mere profession, or outward form; there is the exercise of mental powers; a tasting and seeing the Lord is good. This is personal, and known only to ourselves.

2. How wretched those are who forego these pleasures — who know nothing but animal gratification and sensual pleasure.

3. Those who enjoy personal piety are anxious for others to realize the same enjoyment.

4. If the Lord is good, let us learn the design of that goodness (Romans 2:4).

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

I. THE FACT ALLUDED TO IN THE TEXT. We minify the atonement when we consider it merely as one, perhaps the best, of several possible plans of salvation. There is no other way, no other name by which God can save, even if the nature and character of the sinner admitted of others. This plan and this name are rooted and grounded in the nature of God. "Mercy and Truth," or Justice, "have met together"; "Righteousness," or Justice, and "Peace," or Pardon, "have kissed each other."

II. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TEXT. "Taste and see." Religion is a blessed, blissful, glorious experience. It casts out fear, drives away doubt, and sweetens the whole of human life. Religion is love, and love is an experience of the mind, heart, and soul. We love a father, husband, wife, parent, and a child, and we know it. We know it by experience — by the witness of the human spirit. Love to God is lodged in human experience, in human consciousness, just where all other loves are lodged, and we may know that we love God just as readily as we know that we love our parents. We have but one witness to the fact of all human loves; but to the fact of Divine love we have two witnesses — our own spirit and the Spirit of God. This makes assurance doubly sure. Our spirit says we love God, and God's Spirit in ours says we love Him.

III. THE EXHORTATION which is implied in the interjection "O!" Ye hungry, poor, here is bounty and richness, without money and without price. Here is a sight that is satisfying, and a taste that fills the soul with infinite fulness. It is the only goodness worthy of the name; the perfection of goodness. Ye who are trying to find God in Nature, O come here, and learn Him as He is seen in grace, and then Nature will not be so intricate as it now seems to be. O, ye doubting Christianity, whose lives are full of sorrow and darkness, come out into the light and enjoy the fulness of blessing; even the direct witness of the Holy Ghost.

(R. G. Porter.)

Homiletic Monthly.
The appeal to experiment is —

1. Very simple. Simple in the two senses: as opposed to what is complex, or complicated and requires an acute and trained mind. The glory of the Gospel is that it is for the common mind, the average man. He who knows enough to commit sin knows enough to be saved.(1) It is simple as opposed to what is subtle. The snare of argument is sophistry, which can array argument so as to appear to prove what is not true. Macaulay can so write even history as to sway the reader to either side of a controversy.(2) Very certain. Experiment may be trusted where argument is unreliable and misleading. It is safe to distrust any reasoning that contradicts known experience. Froude says prussic acid and gum arabic are essentially, elementally, the same. It is not so; but, if they are, one kills, the other is harmless. Many a logician distrusts the very argument he uses to convince others. But no sane man ever disputed the testimony of his senses.

2. In matters of religion we may not experiment by our senses, but may by our reason and conscience, which are the senses of the soul. Communion with God is the most convincing of all arguments for the Being of God, and the practical demonstration of the efficacy of prayer. No experiment is more simple in nature, more certain in results, more sublime in conclusiveness. The oratory is also the observatory whence we get the clearest views of God and celestial things.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

This excellence and desirableness of God's gifts is a subject again and again set before us in Scripture (Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 61:1-3; Hosea 1:1-14:9, 5-7; Psalm 81:13-16). Other passages in the Psalms speak of this blessedness, besides the text (Psalm 4:7; Psalm 16:6; Psalm 19:10; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 65:4). The pleasures of sin are not to be compared in fulness and intensity to the pleasures of holy living. The pleasures of holiness are far more pleasant to the holy than the pleasures of sin to the sinner. None can know, however, the joys of being holy and pure but the holy. Let no persons, then, be surprised that religious obedience should really be so pleasant in itself, when it seems to them so distasteful. Let them not be surprised that what the pleasure is cannot be explained to them. It is a secret till they try to be religious. None other than God the Holy Spirit can help us in this matter, by enlightening and changing our hearts. So it is; and yet I will say one thing, by way of suggesting to you how great the joys of religion are. Is there any one who does not know how very painful the feeling of a bad conscience is? Persons accustom themselves and lose this feeling; but, till we blunt our conscience, it is very painful. And why? It is the feeling of God's displeasure, and therefore it is so painful. Consider then: if God's displeasure is so distressing to us, must not God's favour be just the reverse? And this is what it is to be holy and religious. It is to have God's favour. I hope there are some of you who take a pleasure in thinking of God, in blessing Him for the mercies of the Gospel, and in celebrating Christ's death and resurrection. These persons have "tasted" and tried. I trust they find the taste so heavenly, that they will not need any proof that religion is a pleasant thing. Let such persons, then, think of this, that if a religious life is pleasant hero, in spite of the old Adam interrupting the pleasure and defiling them, what a glorious day it will be if we are blessed hereafter with an entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven!

(J. H. Newman, D. D.)

Knowledge comes to us in three main channels: first, argument addressed to the reason; second, testimony addressed to faith; and third, experiment, which appeals to consciousness. Here the appeal is to experiment. The language is drawn from the sphere of the senses. We are told to taste and see, as though each sense were an eye, and the result was vision. There are five senses, and taste is perhaps the simplest, earliest exercised, and most satisfactory of them all. Our eyes and ears may deceive us, but seldom our taste. Experiment is here set before us as something open to all, a short, simple, safe way of testing the reality of God and His goodness. Argument is not simple nor certain, but often very subtle and unsafe. Testimony is generally safe, but may be mistaken. But experiment impresses us all as to be depended on. We none of us distrust the evidence of our own senses. The text affirms the possibility of making an experiment upon God which shall be conclusive. The agnostic says that God cannot be known, because He is outside of the sphere of sense. We answer, Of course He cannot be known by sense, but must be tested by faculties intended for such experiments, namely, our reason, conscience, love, sensibilities, and faith.

(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

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