An Invitation You Need Today (Psalm 34:6-8)
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! —Psalm 34:6-8
Suffering can be isolating. It’s hard to imagine that anyone else in the world has felt quite the way you do.
Some forms of suffering really are isolating. A rare illness. A tragic loss. Friends and family may feel far away. Even though they want to comfort you, they’re unsure how. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through!” is the soundtrack of those suffering in isolation.
For those who have—or are—suffering, there is something beautiful and comforting in the words of someone who has walked the road before you. The person may not even have known the same type of suffering. But there’s something about how they carry themselves. The words they choose. There is something about the scars that says, “I am a fellow traveler, you can trust me.”
All over the world today, people are suffering. A global pandemic is sweeping the globe. Millions are sick. Hundreds of thousands have died. The global economy is on its knees. Millions have lost their jobs. And even if the virus hasn’t struck your loved ones, or seen you lose your job, we all feel the insecurity and risk in one way or another.
So today, just for a moment, the psalmist has an invitation. The psalm is based on events described in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 where David’s life was under threat. He was on the run from Saul and he faced another enemy, the king of Gath. David is very afraid and acts like a madman to avoid death and narrowly escapes.
Pause with me here for a moment. We often read the Bible differently to the events of our lives. Our minds naturally skip to the end. Of course David will live and be king, of course Abram will have children, of course Pharaoh will be defeated. But we must remember that, just like us, in that moment, they did not know the end. David truly thought this could be the end of his life. He felt the insecurity and risk. Perhaps like you do today.
So into the uncertainty of your life and mine, David reminds us that the Lord delivered him when he was simply a “poor man” (Psalm 34:6). “God is the great deliverer,” David reassures us. “He delivered me, he will deliver you.”
David then gives this picture of God as a protecting army, encircling His people (v. 7). His people fear God. They experience both the dread of the king and judge of the universe but also the joy that this king and judge is their God.
Then, in verse 8, comes the joyous invitation. And it’s not just the platitudes of someone who is groping for words to reassure the isolated sufferer. It is the strong testimony of one who has suffered but also experienced God’s presence and deliverance. David invites God’s people to experience God’s goodness. Don’t just believe it. Don’t just know that God is good. Taste it! Let it wash over you. Feel how good God is. Experience it!
Verse eight then closes with the reason why. You should taste and see God’s goodness because, when you take refuge in the God of the universe, you are blessed.
So today, this week, in the days, months, and years to come, if you ever feel alone in your suffering, hear David’s beautiful invitation. Not just the invitation of God’s king, the invitation of a poor man facing mortal danger, “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
How are you feeling today? Do the feelings of isolation in suffering sound familiar to you?
How do David’s words in these verses encourage you?
Choose two or three people you know and pray these verses for them.
What other practical steps could you take to encourage someone in your life with these verses this week?