PANNING FOR GOLD
Digging into Psalm 34:8
I made some stuffed mushrooms for lunch today. I chopped some zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion; added parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and crumbled goat cheese; stuffed the mixture into the mushrooms; and popped them in the toaster oven. They came out looking good, but when I bit into one—oh my!—it tasted even better than it looked.
In the middle of Psalm 34, David makes an interesting suggestion:
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
The caption at the top of the psalm, as well as the first several verses, show that this psalm was composed in thankfulness and praise to the Lord for rescuing him from King Saul and King Achish. So the goodness of the Lord that David is talking about must be that he rescues believers from danger.
Well, yes, but then he goes on to say:
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Hmmm. Now he has gone on to a whole different way that God is good—he not only helps people in danger, but he is a giver of good things.
Most Christians would quickly say, “Oh, yes, God gives us everything we need—not everything we want, but everything we really need.” If you point out to them that Jesus said He came to give life in abundance, they would say that means an abundance of love, joy, peace, etc.—in other words, spiritual blessing.
That’s not how the Jewish people understood the Lord’s blessing. They trusted God to bless them spiritually by atoning for sin, but they also very much expected Him to bless them abundantly with material things.
Their history started with Abraham. He was a nomad in a strange country. But the Lord promised it all to him and his descendants at the appropriate time. In the meantime, the Lord caused him to become enormously wealthy and influential AND enabled his formerly barren wife to bear their son when she was ninety years old.
Abraham’s son Isaac also experienced an economic miracle because of the Lord’s blessing:
1 A severe famine now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.
2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. 3 Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you.
12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him.(Genesis 26:1-2, 12-14 NLT).
God created life to be good. That’s why we feel distressed when our resources are in short supply. Distress (pain) is the response the Lord built into our beings to let us know when something is wrong. Scarcity is not good, minimal health is not good, strained relationships are not good. God never intended his people to be saddled with this kind of experience.
Why do Christians have them? A big reason is: we settle for all these things because we don’t really believe God is good and that he is generous with those who allow Him to be. We don’t know how pleased He is when we seek Him about the things that we lack.
Let’s taste and see how good God is. If we seek Him, we will lack no good thing.