Taste and See...

Spiritual nourishment for our souls.

Leo R. Van Dolson is an executive editor of Ministry.

WE HUMAN beings are strange creatures. We receive an unexpected "wind fall"  in money  or things,  and we're  not satisfied. We want more. We taste some delicious food and can hardly wait to get more.  But  when  we  receive  a  small measure  of  God's  blessing  and  power we are prone to turn away satisfied, just as if God  could give us no more.

The  psalmist  challenges  us,  "O  taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him" (Ps. 34:8). The setting of this gracious invitation is a  very  interesting  alphabetic  acrostic psalm.  Beginning  with  aleph,  the  first letter  of  the  Hebrew  alphabet,  the writer,  David,  introduces  each  verse  of this psalm with a word that begins with the  Hebrew  letter that fits  his  acrostic. For  some  reason  that is  not  clear  (perhaps a scribal omission) the sixth letter, waw,  is  missing  from  the  Hebrew  alphabetic  sequence that forms  the basis of  the  acrostic.  The  ninth letter  of  the Hebrew  alphabet is  t,  the  first letter of the  word  ta'am,  "taste."  The  obvious meaning is "try the flavor of" or "experience."  When  combined  with  "see"  the concept  involved  becomes  "find  or  dis cover  for yourself."

Verses  9  and  11  call the "saints" and the  children  to  revere  and worship the Lord.  Before  the  minister  can  success fully lead  his  flock into this kind of  experience,  he  must,  of  course,  "taste" for himself and discover that the Lord is good. The surest proof of God's graciousness,  kindness,  and  concern  for  us  is found  in  our  personal  experience  with Him.

Since the psalmist is  choosing a word that fits the acrostic, we  must take into consideration  this  poetic  intent  in  our interpretation of  verse  8  and  not try to make  too  much  out  of  a  single  word. Actually, our discovery of God is a growing and ongoing experience that deepens as time goes by. The more we "taste" the more we  "see."

It is strange, isn't it, that so many are satisfied  with  a  mere  "taste"  of  what God  has to  offer. When we discover that which  is  so  "good"  how  can  we  subsequently ever  be  satisfied with less than this? Why aren't we inspired to continue exploring  and  discovering  the  even greater blessings God makes  available?

Particularly, how can we as ministers who  have  so  often  been  blessed  in  our study  and  sharing  of  the  Word  of  God grow  careless  about  Bible  study  and communion  with  the  Author  of  the Bible?

Obviously,  we  cannot expect our congregations  to  "taste  and  see  that  the Lord is good" as we present our Sabbath morning  sermons  and  Wednesday  evening prayer meeting  studies unless  our own  souls  have  been  deeply  fed.  Our church  audiences  are  "captive"  in  the sense that they are committed to attending week  after week, and in most cases they will  continue to attend and receive some  blessing,  even though the preaching may be  shallow  or  superficial.

But if we  expect to  reach the general public with our message it can be accomplished  only  through  Bible-centered, Christ-centered  messages  that  come from  hearts  that  have  discovered  for themselves that the Lord  is good.

One  taste  of  the good things God  has provided is not enough. Each day, as we dig  deeper into the inexhaustible treasures  of  the  Bible,  we  experience  new taste  thrills—new  discoveries  of  the hidden  manna,  the  deeper  truths  that are  placed there for those who  are willing  to  become  involved  in  more  than merely superficial  study.

In order to be truly successful in this quest we must discover for ourselves the "truth as it is in Jesus." Every discovery must lead us to a deeper experience with and  better understanding  of  the  "Pearl of  Great Price."

Even  old,  familiar  passages  take  on new  depths of meaning as we  allow the Holy Spirit to help us understand facets of  truth  that  we  have  never  seen  in those verses before.

There is  a tremendous joy and excitement  that  comes  from  discovering  the hidden  treasures  of  the  Word  of  God. The reward we  receive is worth far more than  the  effort  it  takes  to  discover  it. How  much we  miss if we  are unwilling to  put forth such effort.

Think  of the stupendous privilege involved—the  privilege  of  sharing  God's truth as  He  reveals it to  us in a way as meaningful  as  if  the  words  recorded thousands of years ago  had been  placed in the Scriptures and preserved for just this  one  moment  of  time—the thrilling moment of  personal  discovery.

What a  challenge this presents. What an  opportunity  is  ours  to  "taste  and see,"  to  search  for,  discover,  and  share with  our  congregations  deep  secrets  of truth that come  from the  very mind  of God—truths that He has placed there to help  us understand how good He is and that will  not  only  develop  but continue to  daily  nourish  our  spiritual  natures.

L.R.V. D.


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Leo R. Van Dolson is an executive editor of Ministry.

April 1976

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