Psalm 34: Giving Our Children a Taste of God’s Goodness

As a dietician, I count Psalm 34:8 as one of my favorite verses: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” This Psalm was written by David when he escaped from Abimelech by pretending to be insane (1 Samuel 21:10–15). On difficult days I don’t even have to pretend insanity; parenting can make me feel as though I’ve lost my mind.

Like David, I feel the need to escape from my anxieties, fears, and impatience regarding my children and their spiritual well-being. In these moments, Psalm 34 encourages and challenges me as a parent.

Taste is the number one reason we choose to eat a certain food1. Habit, culture, marketing, convenience, and nutrition are other factors that determine what, when, and how much we eat, but taste is the primary motive. Taste preferences begin in the womb and continue to develop with breastfeeding and when solid foods are introduced2. Taste exposure and nutrition education increase a child’s willingness to try new foods, but research shows that it can take between 10-30 exposures before they will accept a certain food 3.

Psalm 34:8, along with my understanding of taste, challenges me to expose my children early and often to the goodness of God; including his love, his laws, his story, and his people. Like human taste, spiritual taste takes time to develop. When my children taste God’s goodness, they will want more of him. His goodness, not my labors or longings, will be the reason they choose to consume more of him.

In the same Psalm, David reminds me of the power of communal worship: “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (vs. 3). From the beginning, we were welcomed into and created for community (Genesis 1:26). David praises God for rescuing him from the Philistines and invites others to join him in magnifying the Lord’s name in worship (vs. 1-3).

My children are more likely to taste and enjoy God’s goodness when they taste and see a biological and spiritual family praising God together. Like David, we praise God for rescuing us from sin and death as we “exalt his name together” as a spiritual family.

God’s salvation through Christ and the nearness of the Holy Spirit are the vibrant flavors we need to live amongst a world that is groaning and waiting (Romans 8:23; 1 John 1:9). Psalm 34:18 blends these flavors together for us: “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Children will taste of God’s goodness by witnessing and recalling how he has rescued them through every season of life. When they see how God provides Christian friends after losing friends in middle school, how he shifts their passions after getting cut from a sports team in high school, how he delivers from loneliness in college through a campus ministry, or how he offers forgiveness when they have gossiped, they will be reminded that following and trusting the Lord is a sweet thing in the midst of savory trials.

Luckily, Psalm 34 doesn’t leave any part of God’s redemptive story out. Verse 20 portrays the preparation of a Passover lamb as seen in Exodus 12:46: “he keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken,” foreshadowing Jesus’ death on the cross that was without injury to his bones (John 19:33-37). Later in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul links these Old Testament and Gospel narratives together, as he reminds us that Psalm 34 was fulfilled when Christ died on the cross as the final Passover lamb for our sin (1 Cor. 5:7).

The Israelites tasted the goodness of God through the Passover feast. The disciples tasted the goodness of God when they witnessed the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Today, God’s people continue to taste the goodness of God through the power of the Holy Spirit and through his body, the Church.

Of course, I hope my children acquire a taste for following Jesus after 10-30 exposures of his goodness. But it’s more likely that it will take 10-30 years. It is also likely that these years will be filled with afflictions that may include fears (v.4), troubles (v.6), longings (v. 10), and evil within and around us (vs. 13-14).

Yet, Psalm 34 reminds me that God offers a taste of his goodness in those afflictions. He hears (v. 15), delivers (vs. 4, 7, 17, 19), redeems (v. 22), and is a refuge (vs. 8, 22) for my children and me.

Religious habits and church attendance are healthy ingredients God uses in our children’s Christian formation, but the invitation to us as parents and youth leaders is to use these graces only as means of giving kids a taste of God’s goodness.

When I am tempted to think that outward obedience or spiritual disciplines are the only flavors of God that my children need, I read Psalm 34 or listen to Taste and See by Shane and Shane. I am then reminded that tasting God’s grace and mercy, especially in seasons of affliction, will naturally increase our intake of God’s Word and our willingness to trust and obey him.

Throughout our lives and in our parenting, may we be encouraged to taste and see that the Lord is good.

References

  1. Whitney, E. N., & Rolfes, S. R. (2015). Understanding nutrition. Cengage Learning.
  2. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0222p8.shtml
  3. Nekitsing, C., Blundell-Birtill, P., Cockroft, J. E., & Hetherington, M. M. (2019). Taste exposure increases intake and nutrition education increases willingness to try an unfamiliar vegetable in preschool children: a cluster randomized trial. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 119(12), 2004-2013.
About The Author

Dr. Melissa Powell is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC). She is married to Chris Powell, Executive Pastor at North Shore Fellowship, and the mother of two children. An old dog, a good book, a big salad, and a long walk are a few of her favorite things.

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