by Tiffany C. Chaney
Adapted from Psalm 34, the hymn “Taste and See” (This Far by Faith, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, 1999) offers rich lyrics that can be useful in exploring a healthy relationship with God and a healthy relationship with food.
The word “taste” is most frequently used to describe the action of experiencing a flavor of food or drink.
In Psalm 34, David uses the word “taste” to describe a rich experiencing of the goodness of God. The psalmist focuses on two powerful human senses, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Weight-loss programs recommend that people eat slowly and really taste food. This weight-loss technique teaches that eating food is not just something that is meant to be done quickly, without enjoyment. Instead, by savoring the food and experiencing its flavor, it can be more satisfying with less consumption. You won’t need more and more food.
The goodness of the Lord. The psalmist David had many experiences with the Lord and knew for himself, from his own tasting, the goodness of the Lord. David occasionally found himself in messes of his own making. In his encounter with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), he allowed his desire to satisfy his flesh to create a tragic situation. Yet, despite his personal shortcomings, he was still loved by God. Despite our personal shortcomings, we are still loved by God. The God of David continues to show goodness to us today.
Worship the Lord. Does our tasting of God’s goodness involve an appreciation of the arts— the beauty of colors blended on a canvas, an appreciation of movements in dance? As we savor God’s goodness, does our time in prayer incorporate petitions, thanksgivings, listening? How do we sense God’s goodness in the stories from the biblical text, from our lives, and from the lives of others? When we are invited to the table of Holy Eucharist, do we hear and receive the goodness of the words “the body of Christ given for you, the blood of Christ shed for you”?
The words “eating” and “tasting” mean different things: Eating involves the physical action of food consumption. However, it is when we taste, that we fully experience the food. Likewise, in our relationship with God, we can go through the activities of prayer, reading, singing, but it is when we are fully engaged and present in our worship experience that we truly taste the goodness of God. In our tasting, we are truly satisfied.
All you people. This tasting of God is available to all. In our society, we have inequities and brokenness with food. Some abuse food by overeating, while others struggle with anorexia. In our world, some dinner tables are overflowing with rich delicacies, while others are sparsely filled with the leftovers of others. Some have more than they need, while others don’t have enough. There is brokenness in our world over food. But in our tasting of the goodness of the Lord, we are all made whole. Through Christ Jesus, this goodness is accessible to all and all are invited to the table.
You’ll want for nothing if you ask. In our consumer society, there are advertisements and images that identify products and services that the consumer “deserves,” promises of the ways material things can fulfill our desires. In connecting with the human senses, there are seductive sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings that can be tempting in advertising, particularly in a right-now culture of satisfaction. There are products and procedures that promise to meet our every need, but it is not through these products and services that we are helped. Our help comes from the Lord. Our satisfaction and fulfillment comes from the Lord.
In God we need put all our trust. Placing our trust in things of this world will result in unfulfilled desires. But in God we are able to place our trust and never be let down. God has not promised that we will never go through tough times. We have not been promised that our journey will easy. Most likely there will be tough days as we strive to build positive relationships. There are days when we are faced with temptation. But we are promised that we will never be alone.
We can take solace in Paul’s words to the church at Rome: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We should not place our trust in diet plans or exercise routines to build a healthy relationship with food. These tools may help us along the way—but all our trust should be in God.
Our loving creator continues to walk with us on this journey towards health and wholeness. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney is Pastor/Mission Developer of Gathered by Grace, a synodically authorized worshipping community of the Evangelical Church in America, located in Montgomery, Alabama.
1. Are there areas of your life where your trust has been misplaced – in something or someone, rather than God? How has this impacted your life?
2. Consider a time when your worship of the Lord truly engaged your senses more than usual. What do you remember about the experience? How did you feel?
3. How have you experienced the goodness of the Lord in your life? Use the most descriptive words that come to mind.
This article first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Cafe.