What We Believe
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“O Taste and See That the Lord Is Good”

John S. Shaw

New Horizons: November 2022

Thank Offering 2022

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The CMC’s New Pastoral Compensation Tool

What is the mission of the church? How might you answer that question? If we are committed to praying and serving for the benefit of Christ’s church, we need a clear answer. In Psalm 34, the Lord provides an answer through the example of King David. The anointed king of Israel, while fleeing from Saul and hiding in a cave, responds to his tribulations with what belongs to every Christian church: celebration and invitation. Or, as we often describe it, worship and witness. This is the mission of Christ’s church and the primary call of the people of God: to celebrate the goodness of the Lord and to invite others to join in.

Celebration

David begins with an expression of uninterrupted praise: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (v. 1, emphasis added). Have you ever doubted the goodness of the Lord? Then maybe the opening to this psalm seems unrealistic or even discouraging. Maybe you have thought, How can I ever make David’s expression my own?

When you struggle with that question, it helps to know the context of this psalm. In 1 Samuel 21, we find the newly anointed king and celebrated hero of Israel running for his life from an angry King Saul. The threat is so serious that David looks for safety in Philistia, even though he recently slayed the Philistine giant. Soon David realizes that safety will not be found there, so he puts on a show. He plays the role of a raging madman and then escapes to hide in a cave. It seems that he writes the words of Psalm 34 from that cave.

As he goes on to explain in this psalm, the author is a poor man (in other words, humble and weak) faced with many fears and troubles (vv. 4 and 6). Chased by dangerous enemies, David is now in hiding, deserted by his friends and alone. And yet, as a child of God, David is never alone. The Lord heard David’s cry and saved him!

Only for that reason can David praise God at all times. For that reason, David celebrates the goodness of the Lord who saves. He lacks no good thing. He has tasted and even feasted on the goodness of the Lord. He has experienced the Lord’s perfect grace. So much so that his whole being—what is meant by “soul” in verse 2—boasts in the Lord!

This psalm asks a question of those who read and sing it. Have you tasted the goodness of the Lord? When this psalm talks about tasting, it doesn’t mean what we often mean by this word—a quick nibble or a small sample. Verse 8 has the idea of feasting. Have you experienced his saving power and his gracious kindness again and again? Have you known his deliverance from trouble over and over? Do you know his deliverance from the power and guilt of sin as a daily experience? If you have feasted on the goodness of the Lord, then this psalm calls you to worship and celebrate that good God each day, and especially every Lord’s Day with the people of God. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!

Invitation

David gives us a pattern to follow of daily worship in his psalm. But David is not satisfied with personal, individual worship. He also turns to others and invites them to join him.

First, David invites others to celebrate the Lord’s goodness with him. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (v. 3). David calls others to join his celebration of praise. Second, David doesn’t stop with his personal reasons for praise, but welcomes others to learn from his example and to enjoy the goodness of the Lord that is available to them. He invites them by instruction: “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (v. 11). He invites them by pointing to the Lord’s faithful generosity: those who fear the Lord lack nothing; those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (vv. 9–10). And he invites them by appealing to their need: “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” (v. 12). David appeals to that universal desire, and we can, too, in our evangelistic witness. In Psalm 34, we see a beautiful example of an evangelistic appeal through personal testimony that ends in gospel truth. In essence, David is telling needy sinners: Here is what the Lord has done for me, and he can do the same for you. I have reason to celebrate the goodness of the Lord, and I invite you to join in.

David even ends the psalm with the promise of a righteous Savior. Through many afflictions, the Lord delivers the righteous one; he keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken (vv. 19–20). As the Apostle John recounts the events of Christ’s death and resurrection, he looks back on Psalm 34 and tells us that Christ is that perfect Savior (John 19:36). By faith in this Savior, you can be freed from afflictions, redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood, and find refuge from condemnation forever (vv. 21–22).

This is the gospel we the church are called to believe; this is the gospel we the church are called to teach to the nations. The freedom of that gospel calls us to celebrate Christ in worship, and then invite others—indeed the whole world—through our witness to join us in that celebration! We say to the nations, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”

The Thank Offering gives us an opportunity to participate in both celebration and invitation. Through our giving, we support the work of Christian Education, which produces tools and supports the training of interns to teach the gospel to the nations. And through our giving, we support the sending of missionaries, both at home and internationally, to establish worshiping and inviting communities. Please consider how you might give to support these ongoing labors, and pray with faithful expectation, knowing that God honors the witness and worship of faithful churches like the OPC.    

The author is general secretary for the Committee on Home Missions. New Horizons, November 2022.

New Horizons: November 2022

Thank Offering 2022

Also in this issue

The CMC’s New Pastoral Compensation Tool

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