Taste and See that the Lord is Good!

August 25, 2017

[This devotion is the sermon from last Saturday’s marriage ceremony of Joel Pinckney and Louise Goodfellow in Chapel Hill.]

Joel, you have heard many wedding sermons from me, including four at your siblings’ marriage ceremonies. We’ve spoken on many other occasions of marriage as a picture of Jesus and His Church, and the unity, love, headship/submission, and perfection that God intends in marriage.

In addition to the joys of marriage, we’ve spoken of its challenges and trials – and thus the necessity of commitment and the constant need for dependence on Christ.

You know I came near to destroying my marriage 35 years ago, and God worked through those problems to show us His grace, His love – indeed, to show us what marriage truly is.

You’ve heard of the necessity of forgiveness, of keeping short accounts, of the centrality of forbearance.

You know of the need for marriage’s compost pile, where you can take the tough parts of your relationship and leave them, so they become fertilizer for later growth.

You’ve seen the complicated portrayals of marriage in Scripture, as well as in the novels of Wendell Berry, Leo Tolstoy, and other authors.

But this afternoon, for you and Louise, I want to emphasize a different point – a point found in Psalm 34 from which we read.

I’ll highlight two verses in this psalm of David, say a few words about the circumstances in which he wrote it, and then draw out some implications for your marriage.

First, Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Notice David’s emphasis: He doesn’t just say, “I will bless the LORD; His praise shall be in my mouth.” Rather, he underlines that he will do this at all times, continually. There will never be a moment when he will not be praising the Lord.

And out of that praise in his heart, in Psalm 34:8 he exhorts his listeners, including us: “O taste and see that the LORD is good!”

That is, for us today:  Don’t just acknowledge the fact that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is good; don’t just check a theological box that says, “Oh, yes, Jesus died on the cross for my sins.” Taste that truth. See that truth:

  • When the hummingbird hovers outside your window,
  • When the clouds turn yellow then orange then deep red
  • When the moon moves in front of the sun near midday on Monday
  • When a rabbit hops across your path on an early morning walk
  • When a friend counsels you and encourages you and stands beside you
  • And, yes, when in a few moments you commit the rest of your life to the one you love:

See that these are all good gifts, tokens of love from the One who loves you with a love that surpasses knowledge; taste His goodness in each of these experiences, and thereby fulfill verse 1: Bless the Lord at all times. Continually have His praise on your lips.

Here today, in this lovely setting, with these beloved friends and family, standing together with your one true love, I’m sure you do taste and see God’s goodness.

But now, let’s turn to the circumstances in which David wrote this psalm. He had just come out of a very severe danger, during which he seemed to have lost all earthly hope, all earthly expectation of success. Furthermore, he continued to be in a weak position as he wrote, with only a handful of men around him,             under potential attack both by the armies of his own country and by suspicious leaders of a foreign nation. So his future looked bleak and uncertain.

In addition, in the midst of such danger, in the absence of earthly hope, he knows his life is brief, like a mist. Indeed, as he will write later in Psalm 39:4-5: “Let me know how fleeting I am. . . . Surely all mankindstands as a mere breath!”

Therefore, realize: It is in tough circumstances that David says, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” That is when David commands us: “O taste and see that the LORD is good.”

So then some implications for your marriage.

Joel and Louise, this is your responsibility and your joy everyday, whether all seems to be going well or you’re under great stress: To wake up each morning and to pray:

“We will bless You, O Lord, this day. We will go to Your Word today and taste and see your goodness, reminding ourselves that as rebels against you, apart from Jesus we have no hope but only a fearful expectation of judgment. But because of His sacrifice, because of Your sovereign work of granting us eyes to see Jesus for Who He is, we are loved with an everlasting love this day and all the days of our life. What amazing goodness!

  • “Today and every day we will go to each other and taste and see Your goodness.
  • “Today and every day we will go to the world around us and taste and see your goodness: Weeping with those who weep, crying out for the pains of the world, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and rejoicing in your daily gifts of breath and vigor and . . . coffee.
  • “We will praise You continually as we rejoice in sustenance and love and family and friends,
  • “We will delight in Jesus above all the world has to offer
  • “By the power of the Holy Spirit we will live and love as Jesus in this world.
  • “Knowing that our life is a mere breath, we will breath in deeply, love fully, and live in light of eternity.
  • “We will taste Your goodness, O Lord; we will notice those tokens of love You drop in our path.
  • “You have placed us in this world to show – individually and as a couple – who You are and what You are worth, how You love, how You forgive.
  • “We may live a long life together, we may not;
  • “One of us or both of us may have successful and lucrative careers, we may not;
  • “We may have good health for decades, we may not:
  • “But whatever happens, whatever our circumstances, we will praise you continually with our mouths; we will taste and see that You are good.”

Joel and Louise, I know you already do this; I encourage you: Do it all the more, for this is the message of Psalm 34 for you: For you to treat this wedding day and every future day as a gift from God’s goodness – indeed, a picture, a foreshadowing of the final great day, the wedding banquet of Christ and His church. So that our tasting and seeing that He is good each day prepares us for that deepest, most satisfying joy, that final state that marriage points to: When Jesus Himself rejoices over His Bride, His Church, His people, redeemed by His blood and perfected by His love.

Live this out in your marriage; and so help prepare both yourselves and us all for the perfect marriage yet to come.

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