‘‘O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’’ Psa. 34:8
Additional reading: Exo. 33:19; Lam. 3:25; Matt. 19:17; Mk. 10:18; 2Pet. 1:3
To understand why David wrote this Psalm, it will be necessary to do a background study of events from 1 Samuel 21 up to Psalm 34:8. But we shall start with Psalm 34 as it brings to bear David’s heartfelt appreciation towards God’s goodness.
‘‘By David when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech; Abimelech threw him out, so David left. I will thank the LORD at all times. My mouth will always praise him. My soul will boast about the LORD. Those who are oppressed will hear it and rejoice. Praise the LORD’s greatness with me. Let us highly honor his name together. I went to the LORD for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame. Here is a poor man who called. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles. The Messenger of the LORD camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him.’’ (GW)
1 Samuel 21: 10 – 15 tells the story of David’s adventure into Gath while fleeing still from King Saul of Israel. David disguised himself as a mercenary soldier hoping to find safety amongst the people of Gath, one of the five principal territories of Philistine. Incidentally, Gath happened to be the hometown of Goliath whom he killed in battle. However, he was immediately recognised and for this reason, he feigned insanity in the presence of Abimelech the King of Gath who had him thrown out from his presence as insanity was believed to be evil and all insane persons were except from harm to avert the wrath of the gods.
Years back, David had killed Goliath the champion of the Philistines in battle. But in order to save his life from the hands of King Saul who desperately wanted to kill him, he risked all by moving into the territory of his enemies, more so, the very heart and hometown of Goliath! I want you to imagine the most wanted man by the American government attempt to make a home next door to the White House. Imagine him being spotted by a security agent but somehow was able to sneak out from the tight situation. What would you have done after that brazen escape if you were in his shoes? Would you pretend as though nothing happened or enter your closet or wherever and go on your knees with hands raised praising God for His goodness?
You may say that David lied or pretended to be insane and for that he got an easy escape. But let me put it to you that his lies really did not give him the escape as some might think. The mere fact that he had been identified as David, their wanted enemy who killed their champion was enough for him to be slaughtered there and then. I also want you to know that God Himself must have turned the King’s heart far from doing harm to David and not just because any insane person was considered to be a purveyor of evil things. David knew this too well, so he took out time to carefully extol the good deeds of God. He was at the verge of death, he was in the heart of his enemies’ camp, against all odds, he called unto the LORD, and the LORD heard him and delivered him.
Verses 3 – 7 reads: ‘‘Praise the LORD’s greatness with me. Let us highly honor his name together. I went to the LORD for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears. All who look to him will be radiant. Their faces will never be covered with shame. Here is a poor man who called. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles. The Messenger of the LORD camps around those who fear him, and he rescues them.’’ David never at any time ascribe his deliverance to the belief of old that insanity was evil. Rather, he maintained that the LORD Himself delivered him. Note this verse: ‘‘I went to the LORD for help. He answered me and rescued me from all my fears.’’ Then this: ‘‘Here is a poor man who called. The LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.’’ Who saved David? The LORD or the belief of old? The Message Bible version puts it clearly: ‘‘When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.’’ He said God got him out! No one else got him out but God.
In this regard, David shouted out loud: ‘‘Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him.’’ Let’s do a little study: ‘‘O taste [ta am: a primitive root; to taste; figuratively to perceive:- but, perceive, taste] and see that the LORD is good [tob: (well):- beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, fair, fair word, favour, be in favour, fine, glad, good, good deed, goodlier, goodliest, goodly, goodness, goods, graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh, liketh best, loving, merry, most, pleasant, pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well, be well, wellfavoured]: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’’
To be good as seen here implies an experience (taste — perceive) of what God has done or is doing in the lives of His children. Examples of this could be found in Gen. 1: 31; 50:20; Exo. 18:9; 1 Chron.; Ezr. 7:9; 16:34; Psa. 52:9; 119: 39, 68; Mk. 10:18; Rom. 7:14; 8:28; Jas.1:7, etc. Good is also defined as being of a high quality or standard, suitable, skilled, virtuous, kind, affording pleasure, undamaged, ample, honourable, valid, helpful, pleasant, beneficial, meticulous, financially advantageous, genuine,,, obedient, well mannered, able to do more, able to pay, etc. But you have to experience it to know it’s true.
To this end, some versions of the Bible put this verse in this manner: ‘‘By experience you will see that the Lord is good; happy is the man who has faith in him.’’ (BBE) ‘‘Discover for yourself that the LORD is kind. Come to him for protection, and you will be glad.’’ (CEV) ‘‘Give the LORD a chance to show you how good he is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on him!’’ (ERV) ‘‘Find out for yourself how good the LORD is. Happy are those who find safety with him.’’ (GNB).
Therefore, except you experience, discover, find out for yourself, or give the LORD a chance, you will never know just how kind, pleasant, beneficial (good) the LORD is. The LORD is good not only in good times but even at bad times.
Meditation: How wonderful to know that I have to experience God to know how good He is!
Prayer: Let my work with You be a daily experience that I may know how good You are and tell it to the world.
Question: How good has God being to you?