Tasting the Goodness of God
“Oh, taste and see that YHWH is good! Blessed [Oh, how deeply happy] is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
– Psalm 34:8
How To Do This?
How do we “taste and see” that the Lord is good?
However it is accomplished, this is what the regenerated heart wants…to know Him, to “feast” on the goodness of YHWH, to hold deep and intimate communion with the living God. Stop for a moment and consider what a wonder it is that this is even possible! We creatures, we animated conglomerations of dust, we space-bound, time-bound beings are able and called to “taste and see” that the Triune God is good. This invitation is given to humanity. Any human being who desires can – by grace – pursue this end, running after and finding fellowship, soul-feasting fellowship, with GOD almighty. That is a glorious thing. May we ever increasingly, and ever more deeply taste and see that the Lord is good!
But, back to my original question, how do we do this?
How does the human creature “taste and see that YHWH is good”? Well, remember that Hebrew poetry (of which this Psalm is an example) often uses parallelism, so that the second “stanza” of a verse repeats or mirrors or comments on the first. In this case, I think the second half of this verse explains the first:
“Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
How does one taste and see that YHWH is good? By taking refuge in Him….by casting themselves wholly onto His grace and into His hands…by despairing of self and boasting only in the Lord. This is the path to true and deepest happiness (“Blessedness”) and it comes when we take refuge in the Lord – that is, in His revealed character and authority – in the face of hardship. The human soul tastes the goodness of the Lord God when it abandons itself to Him in desperate and hopeful dependence. Indeed, that seems to be the theme of this entire Psalm.
Help From 1 Peter
I believe we are further confirmed in this line of thought because of Peter’s use of this verse in 1 Peter 2:2-3,
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
In this passage, “pure spiritual milk” most likely refers to the word of God, especially the gospel of Christ that saves the soul of the one trusting in and conformed to it. It is after calling the Christian to long for and deeply drink from the gospel that Peter adds – seemingly as motive for further drinking – “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Now, why would he say that here? I think it is because of this: In the context of Psalm 34:8, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good means seeking refuge in Him. And what is our receiving of the gospel but our fleeing to the Lord for refuge (Heb.6:18)? So, in Peter’s mind, to receive the gospel of Christ IS to flee for refuge to the Lord which IS to taste and see that He is good (according to Ps.34:8).
We Taste God’s Goodness in the Gospel
We taste the true goodness of God when we run to Him in Jesus Christ – crucified and risen – as our refuge, as the Rock that was split open so that we might hide within. Indeed, whenever anyone in history has known YHWH as their refuge, they have been tasting the “pure spiritual milk” of the gospel. This is because in order to be a refuge to (sinful) humanity, our God must ultimately lay down His own life in substitionary, sacrificial love. His goodness is tasted in His being our refuge because, ultimately, He is our refuge only by manifesting His goodness, that is to say, by pouring out His life in love for us at the cross. Only by the cross is YHWH a refuge to anyone. So of course in seeking and knowing YHWH as refuge David tastes His goodness and is blessed, since by doing so He is believing a “Protoevangelium” and is, as it were, receiving Christ from afar.
The goodness of the Lord is especially “tasted” as we seek refuge in Him because our seeking refuge in Him is enabled only by the cross, and the cross is the supreme manifestation of His Name, that is, of His goodness….the same goodness that He caused to pass before Moses in Exodus 33:19, and 34:6-7…. Awesome.
So friends, let us continually run to God in Christ as our refuge…our refuge from fear, from condemnation, from failure and anxiety and sickness and uncertainty etc. etc….because when we flee to God in the name of Christ, we are applying His Name to our lives – the Name revealed on Calvary – and it is here that we will taste and know Him for who He is, and He is good.