Taste and See: Easter Sunrise Service
TASTE AND SEE
During a trying time of my life I memorized by heart Psalm 34. I would repeat it over and over until it came naturally off my tongue. The phrase, “Taste and See”, particularly stood out to me. The idea that we can taste and see that the Lord is good has always interested me. I think tasting is particularly important. Take for example an apple. We can see that the apple looks good to eat. But sometimes when we taste it we come to find out that the apple is rotten. It is one thing to talk about the Grace of God, the Love of God, God’s deliverance, it is another thing to see it and to taste it. To know God’s Grace as the Bible talks about knowing. We are called to know Christ as a man knows his wife. A deep and intimate knowledge. Spiritual in Christianity is not abstract. God gives us signs of His Grace. The bread and the juice in communion. The waters of Baptism. The preaching of the Word. The fellowship of the Saints. All are reminders that our God is not far from us. What can Psalm 34 teach us about tasting and seeing the LORD? I see three lessons for us today.
- Bless the Lord
- Fear the Lord
- And have a Broken Heart.
There are those who are blessed by the Lord with the gift of encouragement. They hear Paul in the letter to Philippians tell his readers to rejoice in all circumstances and they think, “ amen Paul! Bless the Lord!” For the rest of us it is a process of learning to bless the Lord in plenty and in want, in pleasure and in pain. It is not that we should never complain. Paul often listed the sufferings he went through, Jesus struggled in the Garden before his crucifixion, even the Psalmist are known to cry out to God in lament. But the key is after we have mourned that we find a way to praise again. We find a way to be grateful and give thanks. To quote N Graham Standish in his book Humble Leadership , “ to be “grateful” literally means to be full of grace. There is a connection between the extent to which we are grateful to God for our lives, vocations, and the others around us and the degree to which grace seems to flow into what we do.” Being grateful allows us to give grace to others. Complaining, even if they are just complaints, leaves a root of bitterness in our souls. Research has shown that among married couples it takes five positive words to counteract one negative word. Proverbs 18:21 declares, “ the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” So may the fruit of our words and our actions be sweet and not bitter today.
Next, this Psalm tells repeatedly to fear the Lord. We spend so much time today talking about the Love of God that often we forget to talk about the fear of God. This psalm speaks of two components to the fear of God. Belief in God’s provision and belief in God’s deliverance.
Verse 10 tells us that, “the young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” The lion is symbolic in the ancient world for power, strength, and ability. A young lion would be the most able hunter around. And yet by its own power, its own provision, that lion will go hungry. But those who don’t pretend that they are lions and recognize they are helpless sheep can and do experience the provision of the Lord. Take the example of George Muller. He was a 19th century Evangelist in Britain who established 117 orphanages caring for thousands over orphans. He never asked for a cent. He only prayed to God for his needs and his needs were supplied. This is not to say that it always happens this way. But it is to say if we seek first God’s Will God will provide us a way to accomplish His will.
Next we see that part of fearing the Lord is believing that God can deliver us in the challenges that face us. As the Psalm says, “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Now sometimes that doesn’t happen in the most literal fashion. Bad things happen to good people and we don’t know why. But if we simply turn this verse into a metaphor about inner peace we miss the intention of the Bible and of this passage. The Bible speaks of a God who intervenes in history. The greatest intervention in history was of course the Resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus had only been crucified and had not Risen from the dead his name would have been forgotten in the annals of history as was the case for the leaders of many messianic movements of that day that were crushed by the Romans. Even Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised than our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. Our faith is not separated from reality. God can and does intervene for our good. In our suffering let us not forget that.
Finally, Psalm 34 tells us that the LORD, “is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” As Jesus reminds us in the beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” If your heart breaks for the world, if your spirit is crushed by your own sins and the sins of others, if you refuse to turn yourself off to the pain and need you see, this Psalm tells us you are not far from God.
Bless the Lord, fear the Lord, and have a broken heart. This is how we taste and see that the Lord is good. My prayer us this day and everyday is that we may have a new taste of the goodness of the Lord.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.