Psalm 34 - Taste and see

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.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
Psalm 34 (NRSV)
Proper 14, Year B, verses 1-8, Sunday between August 7 and August 13
Proper 15, Year B, verses 9-14, Sunday between August 14 and August 20
Proper 16, Year B, verses 15-22, Sunday between August 21 and August 28
Proper 25, Year B, verses 1-8, (19-22), Sunday between October 23 and October 29
All Saints, Year A, verse 1-10, 22, Sunday November 1, or the 1st Sunday in November

This segment of the psalm (verses 1-8) begins and ends in the mouth. In verse 1, the declaration is that God's praise "shall continually be in my mouth." And then in verse 8, the advice is given to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Perhaps the two are related, in a feedback loop.

The Lord who hears, who answers, the Lord who delivers from fear and saves from troubles, of course that Lord is worthy to be praised. Especially the Lord wants the lowly to hear this good news. No wonder that praise tastes sweet upon the lips.

But we know that the act of praise, the act of thanksgiving, the act of prayer has an effect on the person engaged in it. "I will bless the Lord at all times," can be heard as a program for living life oriented to God's goodness. The psalm also expands the territory of praise, in verse 3 inviting any who are listening to join in the exhaltation: "Magnify the Lord with me!"

The psalm continues on to offer advice for faithful living and bold statements about God's protection. Yet these eight verses stand as a succinct statement of confidence in the relationship between this believer and their Lord. One imagines that praise has become a habit, and that act of devotion helps call forth the experience of knowing God's mercy in acts large and small. This believer is happy indeed that they have taken refuge in the Lord.

Credits:
Uncredited, Shout for Joy, labelled free for reuse.

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