Taste and See for yourself – God is good

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Taste and See for yourself – Only God can save you from your troubles.

Psalm 34 – 5/01/2020

Mark Penn

 

Psalm 34 is a fabulous way to start the New Year because this psalm holds up continual praise for God, as well as wisdom and assurance from God. The main point of today’s psalm is that we might have trouble, but there is no trouble that we will encounter that God can’t deliver us from. And this is a promise that is most relevant right now. As we look at Psalm 34 this morning we are invited to taste and see for ourselves that God is good if we take refuge in him, we will be blessed. This is in stark contrast to our country which is currently in crisis.

Australia is going through some real troubles. 23 people have so far lost their lives in the worst bush fires our country can remember. There have also been more than 1300 homes destroyed. 2020 has not started well for many people. The drought rages on, and we seem to be surrounded by  devastation. The testimony of the news each night is heartbreaking. Psalm 34 though gives us hope as we see that King David had been in a hopeless situation, yet the Lord delivered him. The psalm was written soon after to praise God and to share God’s promises.

God had rescued him from Abimelech which is a title that means ‘My Father is King’, who is also known as King Achish in 1 Samuel 21:10-14.  David was sent away (freed) because of the Lord’s favour.

 

Psalm 34 is what is known as an acrostic psalm. This means that each verse begins with the successive (next) letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. I have broken psalm 34 into three sections. The first section verses 1-7 is really King David’s praise of God and his testimony, the second section of the Psalm v8-14 is David teaching Israel and indeed us here today. This section fits more closely into the category of a wisdom psalm. The final section speaks of the assurance of God’s salvation. That he will indeed save us from trouble.

 

Part 1 – Thanksgiving and Testimony 1- 7

Praise Verses 1-3

David has just been rescued from his enemies and what does he do. He straight away gives thanks and praise to God. What comes out of his mouth, what is on his lips isn’t self-congratulations. No it is praise for God, continual praise for God. It is also not just a warming of the heart. Praise is not just inward, it is also outward, through our words. I personally really enjoy Hebrew poetry with its repetition. It is especially designed for people like me who might at first glance miss the meaning. This intentional repetition is most helpful and means that I get it at least the second time.

 

So David begins Psalm 34.

1 “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Extol, acclaim, praise enthusiastically. Praise with vigour. Praise for the Lord should rightly be never ending. If you miss the ‘at all times’ in the first line, hopefully we don’t miss the ‘always’ in the second. But it is not just continual praise, it is enthusiastic continual praise. What a wonderful posture for us all to strive for as we begin this new year. Let’s not let an hour go by where we don’t give thanks to our Lord and Saviour.

Then David moves from praise to glorifying or boasting in God.

 

2 “My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted (humble) hear and rejoice.” It is not just King David’s lips that are moving in praise. His whole being understands and knows that it is God in whom we are to boast. For even when it looks like it might have been due to our own effort that a situation was resolved. In King David’s case he had acted like a madman and the Philistine King had therefore sent him out of his presence. David knows that it was the Lord who was at work in the situation and God alone who secures the outcome. So King David rightly boasts in God. Once again as the new year begins, do we have to look inside ourselves and reset our boasting. Like David does in this verse, we should remember to give God the praise for all good things in our lives.

 

Let’s not forget that this is a song, a communal psalm. In verse three King David invites the gathered community to join him in praising God.

 

3 “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”

Perhaps the ESV translation captures the essence of this more fully when it states; “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Magnify is such a great word. For when we magnify God we make God bigger and ourselves smaller. We make it more about God and less about us. We focus on God.

 

 

Testimony Verses 4-7

David then shows us what God has done for him and others. David shows us what has led him in this instance to praise God. There are three words in these next three verses that are important in our comprehension of this part of the psalm. For we will see that David seeks, he looks, and he calls.

 

Firstly David speaks to his own recent situation. He makes it clear that he relied on God and that God was faithful. 4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” This speaks to the relationship of our Loving God with those that are his. David was scared. In fact in 1 Samuel 21:12 we read that “David was very much afraid of Achish the King of Gath.” Yet in seeking the Lord, in trusting the Lord and leaning not on his own understanding. David was able to have his fears taken away by the grace of the Lord.

 

David then moves from talking about himself to a shared experience of those who trust in the Lord. 5”Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame.” What a glorious picture of Joy. To have a face that is never covered in shame, there is no sadness in this face, no frown, no grumpiness. This is a face that is pure joy. It is a radiant face. Looking to our Holy and Perfect God and being in his presence, trusting in him, makes the believer radiant. I can’t help but think of radiance from God’s own Glory and the picture of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai after speaking with the Lord Exodus 34:29 “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” As we spend time with God in prayer and in his word we are changed. Yes even our faces change. We transform from one who shows their shame, to one who shows the radiance, the glory of God. If we put our trust in the Lord. Then Jesus Christ lives in us. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says to the Corinthian believers “Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you.”

 

Kind David zooms back in from the saints to himself and makes it very personal in verse 6. 6”This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” Once again David is showing that he is poor, that he on his own can do little. That it is God who is hears and who saves. We cannot save ourselves. We can only cry out to the one who can save. Perhaps you need to humble yourself before the Lord. To say Lord in my weakness you are strong. I repent of my pride and ask for your forgiveness.

 

Verse 7 then is a fitting end to this section of the psalm. For to those who trust in the Lord, to those who call out, who seek, who look to God. To those who rightly fear the Lord, they will be saved. 7 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.” Now whether this verse is talking about the Lord himself or his Angel is debated. This verse reminds us that there is what can see and what we can’t see. That there is indeed a Spiritual battle being waged at this very moment. Still, we need not fear this for our God is protecting those who are his, shepherding us.

 

Part 2 – Instruction and Experience v8-14

This most glorious verse of Psalm 34  speaks to our very being. Taste and See. Not just think, not just listen. But experience, participate. 8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” The Lord is good and if you trust in him, if Christ lives in you, you are blessed. But let’s go back to tasting and seeing. I have to admit that I love food. If you have spent much time with me then this will probably become obvious. Now I have a few favourite meals. A nice hot beef vindaloo and Fresh Salt and Pepper prawns are right up near the top of my list. Now the thing is because I know how these taste and the great feeling that eating them gives me, the mere mention of them causes me to crave them. The same could be said for a beautiful sunset, I really enjoy looking at a beautiful sunset. In fact I am happy to sit there and take in a beautiful sunset for its entire duration. These examples are good things. And in a way King David is asking us to use these same senses to take in something that is immeasurably better, immeasurably more satisfying and immeasurably more important. If we put our trust, our hope in Jesus. Then we really can in every sense hear, smell, taste and see that God is good. It is the best banquet we could ever be part of.

 

Verse 8 is not only the climax of the first half of Psalm 34, but also the beginning of the teaching section, the wisdom section of this psalm. Verse 8 is the first of several imperatives that David uses. So we start with taking refuge in God or trusting in God, and then verse 9 reminds us that there is a right way for the saints, God’s people to approach him and that is with fear. 9“Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.” The posture of fear is having the right respect of God, the right reverence, but also knowing that God is the maker and sustainer of all things. He is in charge, if he decides something, that is what will be. Have the right fear of the one who created and will judge. Philippians 2:12 “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Those who fear him lack nothing. Isn’t that an incredible statement. You will lack nothing. There is nothing further that you need. If we have Christ we have everything.

 

Verse 10 then is an example of verse 9. 10 “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” For David uses the king of the beasts, the one who rules the plains. The top of the food chain in the animal kingdom to show us that, even this majestic beast, who has no real predator, can go hungry. The Lord is the one who provides. Those who seek the Lord, they will not lack.

 

What a wonderful picture of assurance these verses are. Seek the Lord, look to the Lord, call on the Lord. Taking refuge in him will mean being blessed. The words of Jesus came to mind as I was preparing this section of the message, specifically Matthew 6:33 “But Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

David is giving his readers guidance on how to live wisely, specifically in light of correctly fearing God. Let’s read verse 11-14 11 “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” 12 “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days” 13 “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” 14 “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” The word of God teaches us how to live. David was teaching those around him how to live rightly as saints. In fact what wonderful words King David uses. I will teach you the fear of the Lord. As Boice says “David is saying that the fear of the Lord is doing right, this is, that it involves obedience.” This is the proper human attitude that we are to have toward God. In a very real sense it is our faith in action, or perhaps our right fear in action. The main message in these four verses is to turn from evil and do good. To turn to God, and not away from him. Also to reign in our tongue. James 1:26 remind us of this very thing and this message works well across these verses “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” They are strong words, yet the correct fear of the Lord is found in following God’s way.

 

Part 3 – God Delivers and God Assures

The final section then reminds us that it is the Lord who is in control, the Lord who will look after those who are his.

The ideas of assurance and protection, indeed deliverance of those who are God’s is then returned to in this section. What putting ones trust in and rightly fearing the Lord means is amazing.

 

15 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to 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 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

 

As was King David’s own experience when he was in the grasp of the philistines, he cried out to the Lord and the Lord saved him. This experience is open to everyone who fears the Lord. If you have put your trust in Jesus then when you cry out God hears you. Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

Verse 19 then brings to light the fact that we will have troubles. That in this life there will be trouble. This is what we are seeing all around us at the moment. People in trouble. But that is not where God leaves David or us. Let’s take a look at verse 19. 19 “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” While we have been talking about assurance, isn’t this statement incredible. So for those false preachers out there that say there won’t be troubles for those who believe and that they will just be healthy and wealthy and live their best life now. That is not what the bible says. In fact Jesus himself says in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” There is and will be trouble for all who call on the name of the Lord. But Jesus is to be our peace. We can rest in God’s promises, we will be delivered from all troubles. This was in verse 17 as well. All their troubles. These are incredible words, incredible promises. We will be saved from all our troubles, the timing is God’s, and the promise is sure.

 

We return as always to the fact that there are two ways to live. We are either righteous because we fear the Lord and have put our trust in Jesus, or we are wicked because we haven’t. We have just seen that the righteous are delivered from all things. Yet the wicked aren’t. 21 “Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.”  This is a stark contrast, righteous and wicked. The final verse of Psalm 34 is as I understand it outside of the acrostic pattern. Perhaps it is meant to stand alone. It is a final verse of assurance for those that fear the Lord. 22 “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.” Again when I read this verse I have Romans 8 swirling around in my head. Specifically verse 1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..”

 

This whole Psalm shows that David realises it is not in his strength that he is saved, but through rightly fearing and trusting in Yahweh. God can and will save us from our troubles. So in 2020 let’s seek the Lord, let’s look to the Lord and let’s cry out to the Lord. The Lord will save us from our troubles.

Let’s follow this psalm. Let us all continually praise God for his grace to us in our Lord Jesus Christ, let’s magnify him and boast in him only. In 2020 may we read God’s word daily and come to him in prayer continually. Let’s pray.