We speak of something as good when it answers in all parts to the ideal. Hence in our ascription of goodness to God the fundamental idea is that He is in every way all that He as God should be, and therefore answers perfectly to the ideal expressed in the word "God." He is good in the metaphysical sense of the word, absolute perfection and perfect bliss in Himself. …That’s quite a mouthful.
But since God is good in Himself, He is also good for His creatures, and may therefore be called the fountain of all good, and is so represented in a variety of ways throughout the Bible. …
All the good things which the creatures enjoy in the present and expect in the future, flow to them out of this inexhaustible fountain. And not only that, but God is also the highest good for all His creatures, though in different degrees and according to the measure in which they answer to the purpose of their existence. (Systematic Theology, 70)
It’s obvious that Berkhof is working hard to be as precise as possible to make his point as clear as possible, but the Psalmist takes a different approach. The psalmist here tells us where our hope lies. And let’s be clear: the Psalmist, in Psalm 34, is hopeful. The Psalmist is somehow aligned with the Presbyterians who wrote the Westminster Catechism 3000 years later. When they asked the question, “What is the chief and highest end of man?” They responded, “Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”
TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD, he proclaims. He is actually a little more emphatic than that, because the Pslamist doesn’t just say “the Lord” here in proper reverence: he says instead, “TASTE AND SEE THAT JEHOVAH IS GOOD!” “TASTE AND SEE THAT YAH-WEH IS GOOD!” That is: this is not God-in-Theory. This is not a system of understanding an ineffable and incomprehensible God. This is the God of Joshua, the God of Moses, and Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and Noah. This is God who called Samuel by name and gave him explicit instruction to anoint David the King of Israel. This is God in Person, God in Fact, The God who has a living history of making promises, and keeping them.
And that’s the Psalmist’s trope here: Somehow, we have a God who is as real as a delicious meal. Somehow, we have to get our mouth ready to receive him. That’s actually what John Calvin says about this Psalm: “the Psalmist indirectly reproves men for their dullness in not perceiving the goodness of God, which ought to be to them more than a matter of simple knowledge. By the word taste he at once shows that they are without taste; … He, therefore, calls upon them to stir up their senses, and to bring a palate endued with some capacity of tasting, that God’s goodness may become known to them.”
Without overstating it, the Psalmist is saying that God is REAL – and that the primary way we know God is REAL is that He is knowably Good.
This is actually our problem, isn’t it? This is actually the problem that we as people face all the time. We have lousy taste. I’m not talking about the way we dress, or the colors we paint our homes or the way we decorate them, or even the kinds of jokes we tell. I’m talking about keeping our sensibilities on what God intends for this world. And when bad things happen – things which are inexplicably bad, things which, let’s face it, one Sunday school lesson cannot possibly explain – our bad taste tends to take over.
We forget the broad ways in which the fact that God is Good which must anchor us.