Morning Thoughts on
Phillip N. Conley
Psalm 34:8, "O taste and
see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth
This morning, there is much
about the spiritual kingdom that the world has never nor
will ever understand. To see the kingdom by spiritual sense,
many times we have to remove the natural perceptions of
things. For example, the number of God's faithful in the
earth at any given time throughout history has been
relatively small in comparison with humanity in general.
Natural man puts emphasis and importance on superior
numbers, thereby making it inconceivable to natural sense
that a faithful few would be where truth, strength, and
majesty are found. Another brief example shows that natural
man puts high importance on might or strength. Yet, the
Lord's kingdom is oftentimes seen through a poor and
afflicted people that are neither strong in natural riches,
physical beauty, or intellectual prowess. Yet, many times,
these poor and afflicted realize and sense real strength,
real beauty, and real intellect (of a spiritual design)
through their poor and afflicted state.
One of the things that never
ceases to amaze me when reading from the Scriptures is the
seeming irony of different circumstances. When things seem
to be going so poorly, we find some of the most wonderful
descriptions of joyful praise by God's saints. For example,
Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching the
gospel in Acts 16, but that miserable situation included a
"midnight singing" by those two faithful men that eventually
led to their own jailor's conversion. What a scene that must
have been, and how equally incomprehensible is that to
natural sense! Our study verse above shows a similar
situation that behooves us well to consider for our own
edification and strengthening in our service here below.
David's psalms have a broad
spectrum of tone. Some of them exalt God with praises of the
highest order (Psalm 8), others show some of the most
sorrowful suffering (Psalm 51), others give grand doctrinal
discourses (Psalm 139), others prophesy of Christ (Psalm
22), and yet others are very petitionary (Psalm 38). Some of
these psalms have a tone that we would expect - David's
sorrow in Psalm 51 comes on the heels of his transgression
in murdering a man after taking his wife. However, some
(like ours under consideration) have tones that we would not
expect due to the nature of the circumstances.
Psalm 34 has a tone of
rejoicing in the excellency of God, rejoicing in His name,
and displays one of the "happier psalms" that we have
recorded. Yet, what is the circumstance during its
composition? The title points us to a very odd time in
David's life. This writing occurred while he feigned himself
as a madmen to save his own life from the Philistines. (I
Samuel 21) The circumstances in David's life were less than
pleasant and certainly quite undesirable: King Saul sought
his life, he has fled his home country, and now finds
himself in the land of his enemy. His enemies recognize him
for who he is. When David arrives in the land, the
inhabitants remark to their king that this is the one who
the women sang praises as having slain his "ten thousands."
To top it all off, what city was David in? He finds himself
in Gath: Goliath's home town. Doubtless, the inhabitants of
the city recalled to mind that this man before them was the
one that dashed their hopes those years ago on the
battlefield by destroying their champion - the city's "pride
Putting ourselves in David's
position for a moment, what would be a probable "knee-jerk"
response? My own thoughts would probably include some
complaint of, "Why me? What have I done? Why is all this
happening?" Instead, David does not complain about his
situation and further does the "unthinkable." His behavior
was the last thing the Philistines would have expected. He
humbled himself to act like a madmen in their sight. He
pawed at the doors of houses and let his spit run down his
beard like a clinically insane person. Yet, Psalm 34
dictates for us his spiritual appearance. He rejoiced!
Further still, he was in a position to understand some
things perhaps better than he had before.
Our verse commands two senses
to be put to use in a spiritual way. While we do have
natural sight and taste, the verse primarily directs us to
focus our spiritual senses of sight and taste upon God and
see Him for how He truly is. He is good, and He does not
fail to bless those that trust in Him. David could have laid
in the dust and declared, "I have been faithful to God, and
I am still in peril." Instead, he rejoiced in God even in
the midst of his tribulations and peril. By doing so, he
focused his senses upon One more worthy than himself.
Whenever we focus our thoughts, affections, senses, and
appetites upon ourselves, we declare (by those actions) that
we consider ourselves more worthy than anyone or anything
else. Yet, if we focus those same actions upon God, those
actions state that we honour God as being more worthy than
anyone or anything else.
In today's climate, I fear
that far too many professing Christians have taken rich and
vital words and regulated them to an "intellectual level."
When most people talk of theological words such as grace,
mercy, hope, faith, etc., they are theological concepts that
we hear about in church. That is regrettably where the story
ends for many. I have even heard such shuddering thoughts
as, "If all I had was hope, I wouldn't have anything."
Friends, these words like hope, grace, and mercy are more
than just words. They are concepts that flow from the
fountain of God that deserve our spiritual senses'
Grace should be seen as
something to "sink our teeth into" and taste with the
spiritual man. (I Peter 2:3-5) Grace is to be tasted and
used for strength to the soul. Hearing about free grace
should excite the new man like nothing else, for that
concept - when properly seen and tasted - will grant the
true nourishment that we need to walk acceptably and war a
good warfare in this life. Mercy is a delight to be honoured,
for the sight of mercy should immediately stir in us the
reverence that God deserves from us. He has spared us from
perils so great that our mind cannot fathom, and seeing that
sight should make us desire to honour Him. Faith and hope
are great pieces of armour that keep our heads and bodies
safe from being swept away by the wiles of the devil.
(Ephesians 6) Our helmet and shield should ever be found in
their proper place, and should they be so, our sight of the
Lord will not be diminished by the circumstances of life no
matter how badly they seem.
Let us consider David again for a moment. Here is the man
that was blessed to kill a giant against seemingly
insurmountable odds. Here is one that has already been
anointed as king over Israel even though he has not yet
ascended the throne. More than that, here is one that God
had closely fellowshipped with both publicly and privately.
Let us ponder for a moment our own lives. Has God blessed us
to overcome "a giant" in our lives against insurmountable
circumstances, anointed us as kings and priests in this
world, and fellowshipped with us pubicly in His house and
privately in prayer and study? During those great feast
seasons with God, doubtless we feel His strength in our
lives. Grace, mercy, peace, faith, hope, and love seem both
real, rich, and alive.
Now let us consider down
moments in our lives? Is God's grace, mercy, peace and less
real? Do faith, hope, and love lose their power and might?
No, they do not, even though many times our perception of
them seems that they have. Instead of thinking that these
rich and vital things in our lives have lost their strength,
sometimes we need to pull our sight and taste past the
immediate and natural things. And yes, sometimes we may even
have to abase ourselves. God told Paul that His strength was
made perfect in weakness, and His grace was still sufficient
for him. Doubtless, Paul would have preferred God to just
remove the thorn, and equally doubtless, David would have
preferred not to be in the land of the enemy and at odds
with Saul. God could have removed that problem immediately,
but instead, David continually had sufficient grace for his
peril. Today friends, there is still sufficient grace for
our perils and problems. We may even find ourselves abased
and as "madmen" in the sight of those our own enemies.
It is regrettably easy for the
flesh to say, "I won't do that." Goliath was David's
defeated foe, but David acted like one of the dogs of the
street in Goliath's own hometown. This was not a lack of
faith on David's part (as this Psalm shows), but rather, it
displays for us the humility that David was willing to
endure against himself all the while rejoicing in the Lord.
Considering that our Lord humbled Himself beyond the base
state of a crazy person even to endure mocking, cruelty, and
death at the hands of His vast inferiors, it truly is no
great thing if we are abased in this world but still rejoice
in spirit for that rich grace and mercy. May the taste and
sight of our Lord and HIs glorious work unto us - both for
what He has done and for what He will yet do for us -
encourage us not to focus our senses tightly upon this
vanity under the sun but instead into the bright, shining
portal above. It does truly make no sense to the world, but
may our senses have that good sense.