Tasting God's Word
Psalm 119:97-103 says, Oh, how I love your law. It is my meditation all the day. You, through your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way. that I may keep your word. I have not departed form your judgments, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" There is no title to this psalm; neither is any authors name mentioned. I think the best opinion is that David wrote it. The subject of the entire psalm is the word of God. The writer sets the subject before us in many lights and treats it in different ways. There are 176 verses in this psalm, yet he seldom omits to mention the word of the Lord in each verse under many of the names by which he knows it. He who wrote this wonderful songwas saturated with those books of scripture which he possessed.
I would like for us to think on what he said about the word of God in v. 103, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" What a remarkable statement! Don t you think that two words in that text are very strange? They are the words taste and mouth. If we had written these words, would we not have said, "How sweet are your words to my ear?" But the psalmist said, "How sweet are your words to my palate," for that is the alternative word in the marginal reference. He didn't write, "Yea, sweeter than honey to my hearing," but "sweeter than honey to my mouth. Are words, then, things that we can taste and eat? Bodies can't eat words, but souls can. The outward man cant eat words, but the inward man can devour words. God's words are full of substance; they are spirit and they are life. They are to be fed upon by the spiritually hungry. Don't be shocked by these words. It was God's word that made us; is it any wonder that his word should sustain us?
If his word gives life, do you wonder that his word should also give food for that life? Did not Jesus say, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God?" As there is food -necessary to physical life, there is also food necessary to our spiritual life. God's words are food and drink, and if bodies live not on words, souls and spirits feed upon the words of God, and so are satisfied and full of delight. Hence, the language of our text is that of an eater as well as a hearer, of one who heard the words of God and then ate the words. I like this way of describing the reception of God's word as a matter of eating, for a person cannot eat God's word without living. Whoever eats God's word is alive and well. He is alive in the highest sense of the word. I also like this way of describing the reception of God's word because it suggests several spiritual thoughts.
First, the fact that one tastes the word of God implies nearness. You can hear at a great distance by means of the telephone, but somehow I don't think anyone will invent an electrical taster. Of course, no one knows what may be done in this day of marvels, but I don't think I shall ever be able to eat anything in New York while living in California. I doubt we will ever reach such a triumph of science as that. There will always have to be a measure of nearness if we are to taste anything, and so it is with God's word. If we hear it, it is music in the ear but still it may seem to be at a distance from us. We may not get a grip and grasp of it, but if we taste it that means we really have it here within ourselves. Then has it come very near to us, and we enter into fellowship with God who gave it. The New Testament speaks of this nearness in Hebrews 10:21,22, "Having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.''
Secondly, this idea of tasting God's word contains the thought of receptiveness. Receptiveness to God's word is an absolute essential, if we are to be saved. John 1:11.12 says of Jesus, "He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But as many as received him to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on his name." This means that all of his own race who received his word became Christians. Any person who receives the word of God automatically receives the right to become a Christian by obedience to the saving gospel of Christ. In John 12:48 Jesus said, He who rejects me, and does noi receive my words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day." This idea of tasting God's word implies the thought of receptiveness. A person may hear a thing, and, as we say, it goes in at one ear and out at the other. And so it does often. However, that which gets into a person s mouth till he tastes it and has a sweet taste to his palate, well, friends, he has received that.
When we find something palatable, the sweetness induces us to keep it there till we swallow it down into the stomach. So I love this thought of tasting Gods word because it implies nearness, and it implies an actual reception and appreciation of what God said. It is a most serious thing to taste God's word, become a Christian, enjoy God's peace, forgiveness and the hope of eternal life and then reject this religion for some other religion. And this has been done. Heb. 6:4,5 says, For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.''
The sin mentioned in this passage is no ordinary sin or a sin common to Christians. This is a very uncommon sin. That which makes this sin so heinous is that the person had tasted of God s word, had tasted of God's forgiveness, and had tasted of the hope of eternal life. After all this, the person rejects the Christian system of religion, rejects the New Testament revelation, and rejects the sacrifice of Christ as the only means of reconciliation with God. Then this person adds injury to insult by accepting another religion which does not recognize Jesus as God's Divine Son and the Saviour of all mankind. The context shows that Jewish Christians were in danger of committing this sin. Some because of physical and economic persecution, family alienation and earthly unhappiness in general--these trials caused some Jews to give up Christianity and return to the Jewish religion.
This was about the same as crucifying Christ all over again and putting him to an open shame before the world. To the Hebrew writer it was a shocking thing that anyone could do this who had once tasted of the good word of God. So long as one believes in Christ and believes in the New Testament revelation and believes in Christ as the only name under heaven given among men whereby the must be saved-that person can be forgiven no matter what kind of a sin he commits. But to reject intellectually and decisively the Christian system of religion and salvation for some other religion is a sin of the gravest nature. The Bible says you cannot get a person like that to change his mind and bring him to repentance. When a person has decided there is no salvation in the Christian religion, there is little we can do for him.
Thirdly, the text suggests that tasting is a personal matter. There is no possibility of someone eating for us. There is a disease known as anorexia. The word literally means without desire.'' Specifically the person has no desire, no appetite for food. These people literally starve themselves to death. If we were to sit down by these people and attempt to eat their portion of food and ours too, it would not avail them in the least. In the physical realm, we must eat for ourselves, and it is equally true in the spiritual realm. Spiritual anorexia is a far more common disease and a much more dangerous disease. Millions will die eternally for a lack of spiritual appetite. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Bodies need bread but souls needs words, the words of God. David understood that over 3,000 years ago when he said that God's words were sweeter than honey to his mouth. When it comes to the word of God, you must eat for yourself, and there is no knowing the value of God's word until you eat it for yourself.
You must personally believe it, personally trust to it, personally receive it into your innermost being: otherwise you cannot know anything about its power to bless and sustain you. I hope that our discussion will help us all to better understand what the psalmist meant when he spoke of tasting God s words and of finding them sweeter than honey to his mouth. It seems to be an utterance of one who is surprised and amazed, one who has a thought which he cannot adequately express. "How sweet are your words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth." Can you say what David said of every word of God which is written in the New Testament? People frequently reject the Christian religion because its moral teachings are too strict. You can't do this and you can't do that, and it takes all the fun out of life. How different was David's attitude! The ten commandments were sweeter than honey to his mouth. Do you find some of the teachings of the New Testament disagreeable and hard to accept? Every word, every teaching and every doctrine should be sweet to the taste, sweeter than honey to the mouth. After this break I will be back to conclude the message.
In conclusion I give you the words of Jesus in John 6:53, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Jesus was not advocating cannibalism. As there can be an eating of God's words there can also be an eating of Christ's flesh and blood. He explained these strange words in John 6:51, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." He was speaking of the importance of his death for our souls. He died that we might be forgiven and accepted by God. Unless we appropriate or assimilate his death to our eternal souls we cannot go to heaven. To assimilate his death is to take it into your mind and affections. In other words, it is to receive it for the purposes intended. The blood of Christ is assimilated in the obedient act of baptism when it is associated with sincere faith in Christ and a determined will to change the life in the obedient act of repentance.There are many people in this world who see no sweetness in the words of God. But I feel obligated to remind such people that there is a time coming when they will be compelled to hear the word of God in a very different way from that in which it is now heard through preaching and teaching. The Bible declares there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, of Christians and non-Christians. The doctrine of a bodily resurrection was taught and believed in the Jewish religion, and it is even more clearly revealed in the Christian religion. One of the first works of the resurrection will be the creation of the ear. I do not know by what process we will be raised from the dead, except Jesus Christ said this, "The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation(Uohn 5:29). When the voice of Christ shall strike upon that ear of yours, what a sensation it will cause! God has spoken to you now by the voice of one like yourself, and he has spoken to you according to the written page. And perhaps you have chosen not to hear it, and that is your right, being a free moral being. God will not force you to believe his word in this life, but you will be forced to believe it at the general resurrection of the dead.
At the last day when the sun shall have gone down on this planet for the last time, God shall speak to you by the trumpet sound of the archangel and the voice Christ, the second person of the Godhead, and you will be made to hear. Rising from your grave, you must hear and obey whatever shall be said, willing or unwilling. You and I must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, for God has declared that He will judge the world, in righteousness, through Christ whom he appointed to be the final Judge, and God gave evidence of this choice by raising him from the dead in Jerusalem n 33 A.D. At that tribunal each one of us must give account for every deed done in the body and give answer for every evil word we have spoken and for every thought we have imagined against the Most High God. It may be a thousand years before that happens or possibly ten thousand years, no one knows. But it will happen in God's good time, and that space in between will be but as the twinkling of an eye, and there you will be before the face of the great Judge.
It is important for you to know that you live in the Christian age of the world, and God has but one law over all mankind in this time period. That one law is Christian law, and it is contained in the 27 books of the New Testament. Read and understand those laws well, for you will be judged by those laws when you are called out of your grave. If you do not become a Christian and live a good, moral and upright life till you die, on that final day when we all stand before Christ, you will not be able to say, "How sweet are your words to my taste." Don't question the Bible, which is the most respected Book in the possession of mankind. This book will be open at the judgment, and all mankind will be judged by the laws which were binding in their respective time periods. My counsel is that you listen to the voice of God which speaks to you through the New Testament. The word of God says that God who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past in the Jewish age to Israel by the Jewish prophets has in these last days of the Christian age spoken to all mankind by His Son, Jesus Christ. Today God speaks to mankind by Jesus Christ, that is through his personal teachings and the teachings of the twelve apostles and Paul whom he chose. From Jesus Christ, mankind has received the last words we shall ever hear from the one true God. The gospel or good news of Christ is God's power to salvation. In other words the power which God exerts to save people is in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his religion. The Churches of Christ invite your investigation.