Psalms 33-37
(Taste and See)
June 9th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

- Psalm 34:8 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Today's group of Psalms begins with two chapters of praise and includes prayers for justice and patience during times when the wicked enjoy their temporary state of pleasure. Psalm 33 is the first in this group. It is directed at a congregation of people and begins with a command to praise the LORD by singing a new song and playing instruments loudly. The author then poetically describes the creation of the world by God:

    Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
    Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

    - Psalm 33:2-3 (KJV)

    The skies were made by GOD's command;
       he breathed the word and the stars popped out.
    He scooped Sea into his jug,
       put Ocean in his keg.

    - Psalm 33:6-7 (MSG)

That Psalm ends by declaring hope in the LORD and makes a request for his unfailing love. The next one is a prayer for protection linked to a specific incident in David's life and continues with the themes of praise and encourages the reader to experience the goodness of the LORD:

    Taste and see that the LORD is good;
       blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
    Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
      for those who fear him lack nothing.
    The lions may grow weak and hungry,
       but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
    Come, my children, listen to me;
       I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
    Whoever of you loves life
       and desires to see many good days,
    keep your tongue from evil
       and your lips from telling lies.
    Turn from evil and do good;
       seek peace and pursue it.

    - Psalm 34:8-15 (NIV)

In Psalm 35, the author asks God to serve justice to his enemies, describing in colorful detail the consequence he would like them to receive, “Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall (Psalm 35:8 - KJV).” The author expresses some impatience with his prolonged suffering the perceived delay in the LORD's response:

    But when I was in trouble, they were all glad

    and gathered round to mock me;

    strangers beat me

    and kept striking me.

    Like those who would mock a cripple,

    they glared at me with hate.

    How much longer, Lord, will you just look on?

    Rescue me from their attacks;

    save my life from these lions!

    - Psalm 35:15-17 (GNB)

In some translations that last verse is more explicit, concluding with "rescue my soul from their destruction (Ps 35:17b KJV)." But the author concludes with a sense of confidence by saying that his vindication will inspire others to exalt the LORD, and that he also will praise the LORD all day long.

The 36th Psalm briefly contrasts the life of the wicked versus those who find refuge in God. The author asks for a continuation of love “for those who know you (Psalm 36:10 - NIV)” and protection from the “foot of the proud (36:11 - NIV),” referring to the imagery of the victor placing his foot on the neck of the vanquished.

Psalm 37 instructs the people to be patient in waiting for justice, reminding them the evil will soon wither away, but those who delight in the LORD will find that “He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

When the psalmist instructs the people to sing a new song in Psalm 33, he is not suggesting they find something contemporary that has already been prepared. Rather, he is asking them to derive something new in God's honor. The biblical commentator Robert Alter describes it this way, "God is to be celebrated not with a stock item from the psalmodic repertoire but with a freshly composed piece (1)." There is nothing inherently wrong with participating in previously composed songs of worship from yesterday or from centuries ago, because this also honors God. However, when we apply our heart, mind, and soul to address him in unique and original ways then we are demonstrating our sincerity through our own effort and personalize our communication with the Creator. The psalmist reminds us in this same psalm that God created the world and separated the Red Sea to rescue his people, thus it's not asking too much to suggest that we continue to compose new verses to celebrate him.

The theme of justice is a recurring one throughout the Psalms, and usually refers to justice to be done to an adversary, like the request from the widow in the parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 18:1-8 )

Psalm 34 is one of seventy-three linked to David's life and one of thirteen that refer to specific incidents in which he was in trouble. In this case, it was the time when he pretended to be insane in order to escape from Achish, as described in 1 Samuel 21:13–16. Our translations of this Psalm refers to Abimelech, which most biblical experts assume was a scribal error.

Eugene Peterson notes that these prayers for protection confirm his conviction that prayer begins with trouble. The other Psalms of protection written by David are 3, 7, 18, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63, and 142 (2). Prayer in times of trouble don't necessarily result in God immediately swooping down to rescue us like a pool lifeguard or a Marvel Comics superhero who cradles us in the crook of his arms as he carries himself and us to safe ground. Instead, it does guarantee that God will be with us in the depths of that trouble to calm us and remind us of his ways and wisdom and to trust in him.

Once we have tasted the goodness of the LORD we should realize there is no better alternative. A life of evil may seem sweet, but it quickly fades, like a sugar high. Instead, if we take time to praise the LORD with song and remembrance of what he has done, then it’s easier for us to fear him and to put our trust in him. When we put our trust in him then it’s easier for us to avoid giving into our emotions, and can follow the advice from Psalmist: “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath, do not fret, it only leads to evil (Psalm 37:8 - NIV).”

Verse 37:4 says that when we delight in him, the LORD will give us the desires of our heart. What are these desires of our heart that we will receive? We may find that our deepest desires are ones we have not always recognized. It’s not desires for money or worldly success, but a desire to be in the presence of the LORD throughout the day, talking to him, listening for his response and serving others.

"Oh Taste and See," performed by the Chicago Mass Choir

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your favorite food or drink to taste?
    2. What does the author mean when he says “Taste and see that the LORD is good?” What does it mean to “taste” the LORD? How do we do that?
    3. Who do you want to see the LORD bring justice to today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in Heaven we know that you hear us during times of trouble and that you are there even if we don't recognize your work or feel your presence

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Those in trouble praying for God's help


    (1) Alter, Robert, The Book of Psalms, Translations with Commentary,, W.W. Norton and Company, New York 2007, p.113
    (2) Peterson, Eugene, Answering God, The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1989, p 50-51

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 38-41 (How Long?!)

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