Free samples. What is it about complementary portions in a Costco, Farm Boy, or even in a Lindt store that draw so much attention? I guess we just like to taste things without having to buy them. Maybe we want to know how good it is before spending our money? Or maybe it is just nice to treat our palette to a small dose of pleasure from time to time.
In our day to day lives, we often remain busy. When stopping at the end of a day, it is not uncommon to feel worn down, perhaps from the amount of work that needs to get done but isn’t getting done the way we would like; or we are worn down from the negative thoughts, fears, or insecurities we have about ourselves because we are not matching up to the way we think we should be. Maybe we feel alone because life is not working out the way we had hoped and we feel we have been, dare we say, dealt a rotten hand as a result of unexpected health, financial, and/or relational drawbacks? At these junctures, it is easy to feed ourselves in unhealthy ways.
In Psalm 34:8-10, David provides us with some powerful truths that will help us live out a life that is truly satisfying. In verse 8, he states that those who take refuge in Him will know happiness, those who take shelter from their troubles in Him will be blessed. This really is a choice, isn’t it? Far too often it is easier to turn to food, work, pleasure, solitude, social media, alcohol, video games, Netflix, fantasy football – the list can go on – when we are not feeling good about life. We choose to take refuge in these places because we are used to going there, it is immediately accessible, because we know it will bring some sort of immediate yet unlasting relief in the moment. And not all of these places are necessarily sinful in and of themselves, but we allow some of them to become the idol that we bow down to, the one we turn to when things are not good, the one we depend on in our moment of angst. As a result of this, they become sinful because we put them before our God.
The psalmist implores us in verse 9 to revere the Lord, we who are holy. God wants a holy people, a people who are set apart from complete dependence on this world and are willing to fully surrender to Him. There is a benefit to this pursuit. As Jesus shared in the beatitudes, blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God (Matthew 5:8). The writer of Hebrews piggybacks on this when he states that without holiness it is impossible to see God (Hebrews 12:14). Now, if we choose to do this, verse 9 continues to say that we will “lack nothing”.
One of the challenges we often face that gets in the way our surrendering is alluded to in verse 10 as the psalmist provides the image of a lion, king of the jungle. Lions take matters into their own hands. They are strong and so they will get what they want. They hunt down their prey and feast on it. Does that sound like you and I sometimes? Take matters into our own hands? Use our strengths, talents, gifts, money, free time, etc… and take care of ourselves? Yet as strong and as mighty is that lion, there will come a day when there is drought, or famine, or sickness, or injury, or natural aging, when that lion is no longer able to provide, when that lion is no longer mighty, when that lion will grow weak and hungry. That lion is not invincible. The psalmist uses this image to contrast our personal pursuits to self-satisfy with his ability to provide. Sometimes we want the security of being the one in control, yet there will come circumstances beyond ourselves that will leave us weak, helpless, dependent. But the Lord our God, Jehovah Jireh – The Lord who Provides – promises that those who seek him, pursue him, love him with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, will lack no good thing. That is His promise. They key? We die to ourselves and seek him first.
David started verse 8 by inviting us to taste and see that the Lord is good. David speaks because he knows. He has experienced God’s goodness in the middle of every circumstance he faced. He knows of God’s faithfulness in helping and protecting him when standing up to the Philistine giant; he knows of God’s forgiveness from his immoral choices with Bathsheba and God’s restoration as he came before God both broken and contrite; he knows how God used Saul’s pursuit to develop determination, faith, and leadership within him while all the while protecting David. He didn’t simply taste God’s goodness. He didn’t just see God’s goodness. David trusted God’s goodness and it did not disappoint.
In order for us to truly see the goodness of our God, we need to pursue holiness and daily ask the Lord to “search us and know our hearts; to test us and know our anxious thoughts. To see if there would be any offensive way inside and to lead us in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Also, in order for us to truly taste the goodness of our God, we need to die to ourselves, become second, and seek him. As Jesus told his disciples, “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all of these these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33). The choice is ours, and the choice is to trust that God is who He says he is. Trust His timing, even when it does not come when we are expecting or desiring it. Trusting that “His thoughts are not our thoughts and that our ways are not His ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To “trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; to acknowledge him in all our ways and he will make our paths straight” (Proverbs 3:4-5). Trust that He is good!!!