Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8)
Stupid, stupid, stupid! We can imagine David saying this to himself as he wrote this psalm. And we agree. How dumb could he be?
We understand that he was in danger. King Saul had grown jealous, and planned to kill him. So, David ran for his life. That we can comprehend. But when we hear that he ran to the hometown of Goliath, we raise our eyebrows. When we are told that he was carrying with him the dead giant’s sword, we shake our heads in amazement. Why does he think the Philistines will not recognize him? Why does he believe that Israel’s enemy will protect him? Why is he not turning to Israel’s God for protection? The only answer we can come up with is, he panicked. He decided that he would have to get himself out of this mess. After all, he had killed bears and lions. He had killed Goliath. Maybe his own strength and cunning will save him again.
He was quickly recognized and captured. His next move was to fake insanity. He clawed like an animal at the gate that held him in. He let spit run down his beard. That worked! “Look at the man! He is insane!” bellowed the king of the Philistines. So, his enemy threw him out. Young David learned an old lesson: Not trusting the Lord God is a bad idea. Thinking that one can rescue himself is stupid. Faking insanity worked. But David now knew how foolish he was.
David wrote this psalm to admit his foolishness, and to warn others not to follow the path he had taken. “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” Is the apple rotten? Is it sour? The proof is in the eating. The same is true of the goodness of God. The only way that you can learn that God’s will and God’s way are good, is to put your trust in him. What else could David have done when running from Saul? We don’t know. But we are certain that he should never have abandoned his hope and trust in the Savior God.
“…blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” A much better idea than running to your enemy for protection, even if your enemy is an enemy of the one threatening you! “Taste and see…” We sing those words in one of our liturgies. Many who sing them may not know the background upon which they were written. But this should be clear to all: Those who run to the good and gracious Lord for help, such ones, are certainly not stupid.
We pray: Heavenly Father, forgive our foolishness when we are tempted to run from you to find an answer to what is troubling or threatening us. Keep us from adding to our trouble by thinking that we can take care of ourselves without you. Keep us from turning to dangerous and foolish answers to our problems in life. Keep us in your close care as we experience your goodness by learning to fear, love, and trust in you above all things. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida. Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military