This verse lies within a song of thanksgiving that seeks to teach everyone to "fear" God and thus to "have no want" (v. 9). The psalms frequently urge the "fear of the Lord," and the parallelism of Psalm 33:8 helps us understand what that means: "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him." To fear God is to stand in awe of God--the appropriate response of creatures who know that they are not themselves gods. Still, one need not be in terror of the God of the Bible, for God is good--so good you can taste it, says the psalmist. Many Christians speak this verse as an invitation to Holy Communion, for in the sacrament, above all, they understand that one can "taste" the goodness of God.
Those who fear God "have no want," says the psalm. Countless psalms make clear that believers, too, suffer; but the psalms know that with God suffering can be endured and finally overcome. At last, there will be "no want" at all, and, in the meantime, "Better is a little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked" (Psalm 37:16).
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011