“O taste and see that the Lord is good,” by Louis A. Dole

Read the original sermon in PDF format

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” – Psalm 34:8

Readings

Exodus 16:11-26 · Luke 14:12-24 · Psalm 34

Sermon

The sense of taste is the first sense developed in the infant. While this sense is usually thought of as an enjoyment pure and simple, it is principally one of utility, its office being to inquire into the quality and fitness of everything that goes into the mouth to become a portion of the physical body which is the envelope of the spiritual body. Taste has been made pleasurable by the Creator for the purpose of enlisting our help in the Divine effort to keep the body alive and capable of performing its earthly service for the spirit.

As food and drink correspond to good and truth, taste corresponds to the perception of and affection for knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, and righteousness. We speak of a sound mind in a sound body.

We all have certain acquired tastes, arising from this modern world with its new artificial concoctions. Animals do not have these. They are content with the plain foods of nature. We are born to love the wholesome and natural things. A little child protests against sharp and highly seasoned foods. But we may acquire other tastes through our own perversions of nature and through individual heredity. We may seek to drown our troubles or to use drugs to cause relaxation and forgetfulness. So we learn to tolerate these and finally to enjoy them.

But taste is a spiritual as well as a natural possession. It is impossible to taste anything without the aid of our mental faculties. The initial life of taste is in the spiritual.

We speak of “good taste” in deportment, in speech, in dress, with its antithesis “poor taste.” We carry this word into art, music, literature, religion. It is one of the most frequent subjects of conversation – in light conversation as well as in the deeper considerations of Divine Truth. In a good sense taste may be thought of as the critical faculty, not in the sense of fault-finding, but rather in the effort to have things as they ought to be.

This is true physically. Nothing passes the lips but is challenged by the tongue as to its right to become a portion of the body. Everything that enters the mouth is challenged, questioned – unconsciously, to be sure, but none the less expertly and thoroughly. The tongue, the palate, and the mouth are the portals where judgments are meted out and separations go on.

In correspondence the mouth is the first way station in the Grand Man, where souls are examined before being distributed to their various and abiding homes. The sense of taste, then, corresponds to the desire of knowing and judging, and is primarily a spiritual sense. The physical part of it is temporary, though necessary. The tongue of the unconscious or of the dead tastes nothing. And it is an interesting fact that the less capable the mind, the duller is the physical sense of taste.

Desire for knowledge and hunger for goodness are expressed in the Word in such statements as “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Why? Because “they shall be filled.” This is in order that a strong spiritual body may be built. It is why there is little use in urging people into the church until they have a hunger for goodness and a desire for truth. We often hear it said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”

The Scriptures speak of a famine for the Word of God. When we experience this famine, we can say, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste!” When one is not hungry for the Word, its precepts are uninteresting. We read of a time when the Israelites loathed bread from heaven. They had no taste for it.

The word taste is used in various ways to express the experiences of life. When we say that one has only “tasted” of knowledge, we mean that he has only a mere smattering of it. “I have tasted the bitterness of sorrow” holds a deeper meaning for us. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” is a call to learn and live His precepts. How true it is that to know God and His Word we must “taste and see!”

Experience is a master teacher. It gives us an understanding of the world in which we live. It makes us masters of knowledge. This is what the sense of taste represents. It does not relate merely to natural food, but to examining and finally incorporating into life our experiences.

We enter a library and see people looking at books. Their minds are feeding on the thoughts contained in what they are reading. At a certain age children are full of questions, some of which relate to God and to heaven. They think that their parents can solve any problem they bring to them. This affords the opportunity to impart truths which will fashion them for life in the heavens. They will take less interest in the deeper things of the spirit when they grow older and become immersed in the business and fashions of secular life, when spiritual inquiry is crowded out.

By nature children, being created by the Lord, are religious. They should learn about the Lord and heaven while their minds are plastic and receptive. This is the time when “remains” are stored up for future use. It is an opportunity which, let pass or turned off by some frivolous remark of the parents, may never return. The questioning age is full of promise, is very fleeting, and should be treated seriously and intelligently. Taste may be listed among the faculties of love, wisdom, mercy, and sympathy. We deprave taste by confining it to the material.

Physical taste is limited to oneself. We cannot taste for another. But in the domain of spirit the more we give the more we have, the more we take the more remains. Love increases by spending love. Sympathy grows by giving sympathy. This suggests how the next world – which is also within us – may be like this world and yet very different. There we come into an inexhaustible field of things which are here exhaustible. There food, clothing, and shelter, like love and truth, are abundant. We pass out of a domain where things are limited, where for one to have something another must be deprived of it. We pass into a world where we have what we wish. There no corporation can corner things and sell them at prices which we cannot meet.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The Holy Supper represents the receiving of good and truth from the Lord. It is significant that the Lord chose the bread and wine as the medium of His close presence with us. The things of the earth are correspondences of the things in heaven. Through food our bodies are kept alive. In it is concealed an unseen energy which keeps us from fainting amid the exacting duties of life. The Lord’s power is in all things that come from Him. Through the bread and wine of the Holy Supper something of the Divine spirit may pass into the lives of men and women. And we may think of this entire framework created by God, which we call the material world, as a revelation of His existence and the channel of the communication of His Spirit to ours.

The Lord said,

“I am that bread of life.
“Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
“This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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