Taste and see that the Lord is good . . . Psalm 34:8
I have no doubt that when David introduced himself to a new guy in town, he would say something like, “Hi, I’m David the King! Nice to meet you!”
I am equally sure that he did not say, “I am David, the Foodie,” even though he talked like a foodie. You know the type. He’s the one who studies carefully each and every piece of produce at the farmers market, picking through piles of organic beets, Brussel sprouts, and golden potatoes for just the right color, texture and crispness. He pairs foods with wines, studies craft beers, and salivates when analyzing flavors to create recipes from restaurant entrees. His relationship with food plays a central role in time with friends and family; it is his love language.
When David talked about his God and Lord, food was the only allegory that was sensual and powerful enough to capture the intimacy of their relationship, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” See what I mean? Here’s another example.
Knowing that God’s words would sustain him, he trusted God’s promise, “I will feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” When David needed comfort, he banked on God’s catering team working in a green pasture beside still waters, preparing a table before him in the presence of his enemies.
I can’t help but wonder how David would compare the Ten Commandments to his evening meal. Here indeed would be a meal fit for a King, even a king as great as David. What ingredients would capture the burning secret to happiness found on those stone tablets: Focus on the goodness of god, honor your family, respect those around you, and never want what is not yours. That has to be hotter news than the Serrano peppers on the enchiladas at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant down the street.
But in all this talk about food, I get distracted. In today’s simple verse, David is not talking about eating. He is talking about tasting.
It is important to know that tasting is not eating. Tasting is a very different activity from consuming food. It is a beginning in and of itself. If you attend a wine-tasting event, it is not about drinking wine. It is about tasting. Your host places before you a very small glass and carefully pours in a tiny amount, maybe a tablespoon. You look at the wine, its color and how it moves in the glass. Then you breathe in its scent. Is it the scent of a creamy sweet oak you would want in a Chardonnay? Or a crisp fruit scent of grapefruit in a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand; or dark grapes and cherries in a mixed red or Cab? After you consider the scent, then and only then do you slowly take a sip. You taste it.
From that taste, you determine the nature of the wine that becomes the basis for drinking a glass of it later, or not. That is what David is describing in his allegory of tasting the goodness of God. We don’t get a case of wine called God Juice. We don’t get a bottle or even a glass. We get a taste. God knows we could not take in the enormity of his goodness in any other amount. He gives us what we can sense, just a taste. After that, it is up to us what we do with it.
From there David moves to step two, seeing. David is not talking about a quick glance or glimpse here. He is talking about seeing something in a depth and intensity that can open doors to flavors and scents never before experienced. Only when we see, can we take it in. We can be enlightened, inspired, lifted, and transformed. Not until we taste and see the goodness of God in his commandments and wisdom can we fully experience His heavenly food.
Consider your Sunday morning visit to the Eucharist table for Holy Communion. Here you receive a taste of bread and wine, just a taste to savor the flavors of love, hope, grace, strength, and compassion. How generously God fills our soul with these heavenly delicacies, sweeter than honey to the mouth. And in that sweetness, you will see that no matter what life has brought to the table or put on your plate, you will never be hungry again.
On that you can count, and how sweet it is!