Home arrow Sermons arrow Sermons arrow April 7th, 2019
April 7th, 2019

Sermon Psalm 34:8 . . . “Bible songs:  Taste and See”

“Bible songs:  Taste and See”

Psalm 34:8

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Behind every hymn, there’s a story about a man or a woman, and their walk with Christ.

Take, for example, the hymn, “Abide with Me,” certainly one of the best-known, and most-loved hymns of all.  It’s a hymn we sometimes sing at funerals, and, oddly enough, it was even performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games.

And if you know the hymn, (and I’m sure you do!), you know that each of its eight stanzas ends with the same words:  “Help of the helpless, O abide with me...Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me...In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”  It’s a hymn that asks for God’s power and protection in every time of life.

But while you know the hymn, you may not know the story behind that hymn.  You see, the one who wrote it was a pastor named Henry Francis Lyte.  He was a published poet and an accomplished hymn writer, from whose pen also came other hymns like, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken,” and “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.”

But for most of his life, he suffered from poor health, and often travelled far from home to find relief.  Then when he developed tuberculosis, he came to the end of his life at the age of 54.  So his family was surprised to hear him say he wanted to preach to his people once more.  But as he was often known to say:  “It’s better to wear out, than to rust out.”

So he did preach that Sunday in early November, and that very night, sat down to write this hymn.  Two weeks later, he died.  His church sang it at his funeral.

Or think of the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” a hymn that American evangelist Dwight L. Moody often used in his preaching and teaching.  It was written by a man named Joseph Scriven.

Scriven was born in Ireland in the early 1800s, attended Trinity College in London, then became a teacher.  And it didn’t take long before he met a girl, fell in love, and planned to marry.  But the day before they were to marry, she drowned!

Not knowing what else to do, he left Ireland to start a new life in Canada.  That’s where he met another girl named Eliza Rice, with whom he fell in love and planned to marry.  But just a few weeks before the wedding, she grew sick and died.

So he turned to the only thing that had anchored him throughout all his life--his faith in God.  And at the age of 25, he sold everything he owned, took a vow of poverty, and promised to spend the rest of his life helping the physically handicapped and poor.

Then years later, he received a letter telling him that his mother, back in Ireland, had become very ill.  But he was poor, and didn’t have the money to go home.  So instead, he wrote a poem, in three short verses, to comfort and encourage her:  “What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!  What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!  Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear--all because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!”

Behind every hymn, there’s a story.

So it is with our text today, Psalm 34.  Please turn in your Bible to page 588, if you wish to follow along.  I’ll start where it says:  “Taste and See That the Lord is Good.”

Psalm 34:  “Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.  I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

Then drop down to verse 8:  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!  Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

Like I said, behind every hymn, there’s a story.  And that’s especially true of Psalm 34.  Look again at the beginning, where it says:  “Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.”

Changed his behavior?  What could that possibly mean?  I’m glad you asked!

To hear the story behind the story, you’ll have to turn with me to the words of I Samuel chapter 21.  It’s found in your Bible on page 311.  It begins with the words:  “Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest.”

So why did he come to Nob to Ahimelech the priest?  Let me explain.

First of all, by this time, David was no longer a boy caring for his father’s flocks.  He’s a young man who’s already killed Goliath, married Saul’s daughter, and been anointed king over Israel.

But there was a really big problem--his father-in-law, King Saul, wanted him dead.  In fact, he had already tried to kill him twice!  So David had no choice but to run in fear for his life.  That’s why it says in chapter 21, he “came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest.”

And as Ahimelech came trembling before him, knowing full well who he was, said in verse 1:  “Why are you alone, and no one with you?”

David didn’t want to tell him.  He couldn’t tell him, or else Saul would probably kill him too.  So he said in verse 2:  “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’”

In other words, he said, “I’m on a secret mission, appointed by the king himself!  So if it’s not too much trouble, please give me something to eat, and I’ll quickly be on my way.”

And one more thing.  Not only was David hungry, he needed a weapon too.  So he said in verse 8:  “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand?  For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.”

 And of all things, Ahimelech gave him the sword that once belonged to Goliath!  As he said in verse 9:  “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod.  If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.”  And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”

So now where would he go and what would he do?  He was, as far as King Saul was concerned, a very dead man!

Look at verse 10:  “And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath.”

Let’s stop there, because all this is rather funny.  

Where’s Gath?  It’s in the southwest corner of Israel, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s in what we today call the “Gaza strip.”

But back then, not only was Gath “Philistine central,” it was Goliath’s old hometown!

And let me tell you, when David showed up, it didn’t take long for people to notice!  Look at verse 11:  “And the servants of Achish said to him, ‘Is not this David the king of the land?  Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”?’”

And as you can guess, as it says in verse 12:  “David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.”

So there he was, the anointed king of Israel, the one who killed Goliath, (the greatest of all Philistine warriors), not to mention hundreds more, and was about to be dragged before Achish, king of Gath, in Philistine central.  What would he do?  What would you do?

Look at verse 13:  “So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.”

Think about it for a moment.  He was, for all practical purposes, dead in Israel and now he’s dead in Gath.  So not knowing what else to do or where else to go, he played the crazy card.  He acted as if he were insane!

And what did Achish do?  Verse 14:  “Then Achish said to his servants, ‘Behold, you see the man is mad.  Why then have you brought him to me?  Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence?  Shall this fellow come into my house?’”

And wonder of wonders, Achish, the king of Gath, let him go!

Now let me take you back again to the words of Psalm 34, on page 588.  As it says before verse 1:  “Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, (that’s another name for Achish), so that he drove him out, and he went away.”

I told you that behind every hymn, there’s a story!

So now that God had once again saved him from both Saul and the Philistines, what song did he sing?  Verse 1:  “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Verse 3:  “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”  Verse 4:  “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  And verse 8:  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

So what can we learn from this text?  Quite a lot!  But I’ll leave you with this--sometimes we get ourselves in the absolute worst of situations.  We say the wrong thing.  We do the wrong thing.  There’s no telling how many we’ve hurt.  And we wonder if there’s any hope, any way out at all!

But our God is not a “God afar off.”  Instead, He knows, He sees, and He understands.  He hears the cries of your heart.  And in His rich and unfathomable grace and mercy, He has the power to make things right again.

As David sang in Psalm 34:  “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

And all this is possible because of the One who made us right with Him.  Just like David, Jesus was driven out by His greatest enemy, Satan, into the hands of other enemies--Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees.  And as David, the king of Israel, stood in judgment before Achish, king of Gath, Jesus, the true King of Israel, stood in judgment before Pilate, governor of Judea.  But while David’s life was spared, Jesus’ life was not spared.  Still, as David wrote in verse 20, “Not one of His bones was broken”--the pure for the impure, the sinless for the sinful, that we might be redeemed.

And that’s why even we can sing the words of his psalm:  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”


We thank You, Father, for Your grace, Your goodness, and Your unending love.  Help us always to find our hope and strength in You, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Summer Schedule

Thursday 6:30 p.m. Praise Worship


Sunday 9:00 a.m. Worship

8:00 a.m. Adult Bible Study