Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8, New International Version
I recently had a new roof put on our house and I am pleased with the result. I watched each stage as it happened, and I was impressed by the crew’s hard work and attention to detail. If someone asks me how it turned out, I will describe it as “good.”
We use that word to describe all sorts of things, from “good boy” to “good food” and everything in between. We have some innate measure of goodness we see or experience, however imperfect it might be. There’s something that resonates within us when we can describe something or someone as “good.”
When we attempt to describe who God is and how He has revealed Himself in the Bible, it is hard to explain. Theologians call them attributes. It is an interesting exercise to debate about how many there are. You can find lists of various lengths; I have a calendar that lists one for each day of the month, and there may be room for more! We try to use human language to do our best to explain the divine, which is challenging in every way.
I want to note that no one attribute is more important than another; each one is equal, and all are present at the same time with no contradictions. With that said, I find that some attributes are easier to grasp than others. For example, when we speak of God being eternal, it is a difficult concept to imagine such a thing. But there are some that seem to resonate more easily, such as that God is good.
"Even though the individual pieces in our life can seem ugly and confusing at times, we can accept that they fit into the finished picture that God is good."
Here’s my thought: If we are not convinced deeply, confidently, unshakably, unquestioningly that God is perfectly good, our daily experience with life and the rest of God’s attributes can easily become an intellectual exercise, leaving us with a lot of questions.
Think of a jigsaw puzzle. We see the picture on the box of the finished product, and it is beautiful. But if we pick up a random piece out of the box and look only at it, we can get a different impression. It might be strange in color, a weird shape, kind of ugly, and we wonder how it fits in.
For our purpose, think of the finished puzzle picture being God’s goodness. If we accept that as a foundational truth, then as we live life there is great confidence and peace. No matter what, God is good. All the time. Unchanging. Fully good. Always. Period. When we get that straight, even though the individual pieces in our life can seem ugly and confusing at times, we can accept that they fit into the finished picture that God is good. That is a great comfort.
And because He is good, He cares for us.
The young lions do without and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.
– Psalm 34:10, New American Standard Bible
The references to goodness in the Bible are numerous enough to fill a book (and many have been written). But note this: when we think we are lacking a “good thing,” it is very likely because our definition of good needs to be brought in line with Scripture’s.
Good doesn’t always mean pleasant or easy, but it does mean that it hasn’t escaped God’s notice and He can work all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-30), which is our journey toward heaven. There is great evil in the world, and pain hurts, but He isn’t wringing His hands in panic. He is good and His purposes are good. All the time.
With that said, other attributes of God fall into place for me. Let’s look at two examples.
Too often we think or we have heard messages that “God is watching; you’d better behave!” as if He is some type of divine Santa Claus who keeps a critical, scolding eye on us.
I object! I am so grateful that He is with me. He can’t lose track of me. I can’t run away so that He can’t find me. It’s not a game of hide and seek where He asks, “Hey, Chris, where are you?” There is no circumstance, even when we are in the darkest cave, that He is not there. That is very good!
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, you are there.
If I fly away with the wings of the dawn
and land beyond the sea,
even there your hand would lead me,
your right hand would hold me fast.
If I say, “Let darkness surround me,
let the light around me be night,”
even darkness like this is not too dark for you;
rather, night is as clear as day,
darkness and light are the same.
–Psalm 139:7-12 (Complete Jewish Bible)
Of course, it is true that we can’t hide any “secret sins” from Him because there are no secrets hidden from His eyes, but don’t miss the powerful truth: God is good and His presence is always a good thing, no matter our circumstances. As we often sing, He “holds me fast.”
This is closely related to companionship (omnipresence). Not only is He always with me, He knows me perfectly. Nothing could be better. For me, it is the ultimate good!
Psalm 139:1-6 (CJB) says:
Adonai, you have probed me, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I stand up,
you discern my inclinations from afar,
you scrutinize my daily activities.
You are so familiar with all my ways
that before I speak even a word, Adonai,
you know all about it already.
You have hemmed me in both behind and in front and laid your hand on me.
Don’t miss the climactic verse:
Such wonderful knowledge is beyond me,
far too high for me to reach.
Do you see it? It is “wonderful knowledge,” not something to be feared!
So, God never loses track of me, and He knows me better than I know myself. Jesus came and lived a life that faced every temptation and trial beyond description. He knows us. What could be better? This is indeed good news.
Psalm 103 is a thrilling description about God’s mercy and care flowing from being our companion and understanding us. I especially love verses 13-14:
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. (NIV)
“He has to know everything. He has to know my heart. Oh, that gives me confidence even when I blow it. My love is still secured because He knows my heart.” – John MacArthur
God is good. No matter what you are facing now or will face, He is your constant companion who always understands you.
Space here doesn’t allow me to demonstrate how other attributes of God take on a new perspective when we see them bathed in His goodness. That’s your homework. But be sure of this: God was good yesterday, He is good today, He will be good tomorrow, and good forever.
Chris is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL (M.Div.) and has served as a pastor in churches in the Midwest. Chris and his wife Marty have been married for over 37 years. Chris currently teaches the Fundamentals of the Faith class and serves in the Prayer Ministry here at Faith Bible Church.View Resources by Chris Tornquist