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A Taste Of The Good Life

Lectionary Tales For The Pulpit
Series IV, Cycle B
O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him. O fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want. The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (vv. 8-10)

When my wife Hadley and I lived in Fort Worth, we earned a side income by house- and child-sitting for families in our church. The children were elementary and junior high age. Our primary role was to feed the kids and make sure they got to school and after-school activities. Our length of stay was generally three days to a week.

The usual scenario was that the "Dad" had a business trip out of state and the "Mom" who was a homemaker decided to tag along to make it a mini adult-only vacation. One couple took the weekend simply to attend a Dallas Cowboys-San Francisco 49ers football game -- in San Francisco.

It was hard not to be a bit envious of these trips across the country. However, it wasn't a bad deal for us either as we moved into these huge luxurious homes for a week. All together, we stayed in six different homes -- all more than 3,000 square feet, four bedrooms, and at least three bathrooms. We had access to pools, spas, and big screen televisions. One place actually had a guesthouse "on the grounds." We didn't see homes like that growing up in rural Oklahoma, and our little 1,000-square-foot home paled in comparison.

For us, it was taste of the good life. A chance to see how the other half lived. After all, I was a student and part-time youth minister. Hadley didn't exactly rake in the dough as bank teller, either. Still, for a few days, we experienced "the good life."

But is this really "the good life" -- a big home, a pool, and the ability to drop everything and travel halfway around the country for a big-time football game? Not really. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's inherently evil to have opportunities created by wealth. Indeed, pools and trips can be fun and enjoyable. However, the Psalmist paints a different picture of "the good life" in Psalm 34. The good life comes from knowing a saving God who comforts in times of trial.

What a contrast to the picture painted by our culture -- our friends, family, and media. The cultural picture fosters greed, but the picture of the Psalmist fosters gratitude. If we listen to our culture, our joy and happiness will be incomplete, and we will have nothing to fall back on when tough times come.

But the good life of Psalm 34 is a life that begins with fearing God -- because life is a gift from God. The true good life is experienced through deliverance and salvation.

Now the real key here is to understand what it means to fear God. Some Christian traditions will say that it means to be afraid of the wrath of God -- to stand before God and tremble because of God's power and wrath. Some of us might even have left churches like that because we didn't want anything to do with an angry God that makes us quiver.

Not to deny that God is all-powerful or not always pleased with our behavior, but being scared of God is not the good life. The Hebrew term translated "fear," is yare which means "reverence" or "trust." To fear God, means to respect God -- to trust in God for salvation and deliverance instead of our possessions or ourselves. The Psalmist is talking about living before God with awe and wonder. That is the good life.

When life leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, the Psalmist says to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Possessions and health are very fleeting, but God's love, forgiveness, and salvation are everlasting. Get a taste of the good life -- a sweet life of love and forgiveness that comes when we trust and revere God.
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