Five times in Psalm 107 the Psalmist pleads "Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness". David, in Psalm 31:19, reflects upon all that God had done and would do for him, and cries "Oh how great is thy goodness"! One of the attributes of God is that He is good. How sad it is though that the testimony of the church says otherwise. Christians ought to be the most joyful and contented people on the face of the earth. Hopefully after this lesson, we will have the testimony of Psalm 107:43. What a difference it might make in our lives to fully comprehend the goodness of God!
I. Goodness Defined
When the Bible speaks of the goodness of God, what does this mean? There is goodness of being which deals with the natural perfection of a thing, goodness of will which is the holiness of a person, and goodness of the hand which is doing good to others. God is all of these, but in Psalm 107 it is the latter that is specifically being dealt with. The goodness of God is his inclination to deal well and bountifully with his creatures (Charnock). It is the same as loving kindness, benevolence, and generosity.
II. Goodness Displayed
If we were to try to enumerate all of the ways in which the goodness of God has been showered upon us we would probably have to say like John, that the world itself would not be able to hold what would be written (John 21:25). We could talk about the goodness of life itself or the goodness found in the way that God governs the world. We could list the good things that God has given us or the good that He intends for us. However, for this lesson we shall concentrate on the goodness of God that is found in our redemption. More specifically, let us consider the goodness of God that can be seen in what we have in Christ Jesus.
Jehoiachin was the next to last king to rule over Judah. In 597 BC, Jehoiachin was taken captive by the Babylonians and imprisoned. However, when Evilmerodach became king of Babylon, he showed extreme kindness to Jehoiachin as outlined for us in 2 Kings 25:27-30. What a great picture this is of the goodness of God that is bestowed upon the believer. Let us use this passage as an illustration then of all that God has given to those that have put their trust in Him for salvation. (Note that this is in present tense meaning that we have these things now).
A. Great Position
First we shall notice that Jehoiachin was taken from prison where he had been counted as a criminal and was elevated to a better position even as a king of higher honor than the other kings in Babylon. What a picture of the goodness of God toward the believer, for we too have been elevated to a higher position. We who were sinners and lawbreakers, God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). Oh Christian, just think that right now you have a position among the host of heaven. Consider as well that at the right hand of God sits a man: the man Christ Jesus. In creation, our nature was put above all the other creatures on earth, but in redemption our nature was exalted above all the host of heaven, because God became one with human nature.
Not only do we have a position in heavenly places, we have been adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:16-17). He who would have been our judge and executioner has now become our Father. The Roman process of legal adoption entitled the son to inherit any property as well as giving him civil status and all of the rights of the adopter. The adopted son became, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the father even bearing his name. Paul clearly understood this when he refers to us as "joint-heirs with Christ". What an honor to be able to call the God of heaven, "Father". Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness.
O how shall I the goodness tell, Father which Thou to me hast showed? That I, a child of wrath and hell, I should be called a child of God.
B. Great Privileges
Notice also that Jehoiachin was given the privilege of eating at the king's table. Where he had been perhaps in chains in his own cell, now he enjoyed freedom and the privilege to have fellowship with the king and his companions. Our God has shown to us no less goodness than this, for we too have been set free. Christ has set us free from sin and death (Romans 6:18; 8:2). Now we can enjoy communion with the master of the universe (Romans 5:10, Ephesians 2:16-18, Colossians 1:21). Though once the most holy place was forbidden to us, now we have the privilege to enter in beyond the veil (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-20). Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness.
C. Great Provisions
Was Jehoiachin to enjoy this new position and privileges dressed as a prisoner? No, the king changed his prison garments and provided him with new raiment. Likewise, the goodness of God did not leave us in our state of depravity (Colossians 1:12). How low would a beggar feel in the palace where all are dressed in their finest clothes? How at home should we have felt in heaven dressed in unrighteousness? How long would heaven remain heaven if it were inhabited by multitudes of sinners? Praise be to God for fitting us for our position in heavenly places and robing us in righteousness (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 19:7-8). Not only did the king provide Jehoiachin with new clothing, but he also gave him a daily provision of food to eat. Brethren, God in His goodness likewise provides us daily with what we need (Matthew 6:25-33). We have been made complete in Him (Colossians 2:10) and have been given all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3)! Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness.
D. Great Preservation
Jehoiachin went from great uncertainty to great security knowing that every day he would be provided with all that he needed to sustain his life. Beloved, what could be of greater goodness than to know, even now, that we are eternally secure? No matter what trials we go through, no matter what hardship we must endure, no matter how dark the future looks, as believers we know that heaven is our final home. According to Jesus, the Christian "hath everlasting life" (present tense) and "is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Nothing can change this and no one has the power to take the gift of eternal life from us (John 6:37; 10:28-29, Ephesians 4:30). Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness.
III. Goodness Defiled
God has been so good to us, and yet we so often attack this goodness perhaps without even realizing it. Let's consider some common mistakes that we make on a daily basis:
Part of Satan's device to tempt Eve in the garden of Eden was to accuse God of being guilty of envy. In Genesis 3:5, Satan told Eve that the reason God did not want them to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was because God did not want them to have what He had. In view of the goodness of God seen just in our redemption, this attack on His goodness ought to seem incredibly foolish. Yet how often do we still fall victim to this subtle device? Many Christians have hearkened to Satan believing that God is holding back some good from them. They complain about this or that prohibition as if God did not want them to enjoy themselves. How shameful is this in light of all that God has done for us!
To envy is to be hostile towards someone who is enjoying some good which we would like to have. At the root of envy lies an unbelief in the goodness of God. To be envious of another is to say that God has not been as good as He could have been toward us. According to Psalm 106:16, this was the sin of Korah and his followers (Numbers 16:1-3). Envy was present in the church at Corinth as well (1 Corinthians 3:3). When the thoughts of envy enter our minds we ought to swiftly recall and meditate upon the truth that God is good.
Is not discontentment, too, an attack on the goodness of God? To be discontent is to disapprove of the goodness of God. The children of Israel are a prime example of this. After being freed from the bondage of Israel and avenged by the destruction of their enemies, they quickly became ungrateful to God and desired a return to Egypt (Exodus 16:3). When God sent them bread from heaven, providing them with food for which they did not have to work, they soon forgot the goodness of God and were no longer satisfied (Numbers 11:4-6). How often has this scene been reenacted - even in the church? The church ought to be a place filled with smiles, but is this the case? Multitudes of Christians are not content with what God has provided and lust after the pleasures the world has to offer. Oh Christian, if God gave you nothing more than your salvation, you ought to be satisfied with that alone!
Distrust in the providence of God is also an attack on His goodness. It is to believe that God is evil and not good. At the edge of the Red Sea, the Israelites accused God of leading them out of Egypt only to have them killed (Exodus 14:11). This was a distrust in the goodness of God though God had a multitude of riches planned for them. Likewise, we often contemn the goodness of God when we fail to trust Him. We doubt His commands, which are meant for our good, and we are ever suspicious of His will as if God intended to bring evil upon us. Let us all the more then meditate upon His goodness and reckon Romans 8:28 as truth.
We attack the goodness of God when we ascribe our benefits to causes other than divine goodness. Daniel had to remind Belshazzar of this in Daniel 5:23. Belshazzar had praised the gods of gold and silver using the vessels from the temple of the one, true God. What a foolish thing to give credit to anyone other than God for good that we receive. Yet this occurs every year when a round fat man in a red suit is given credit for gifts which God made possible. As Jesus said in Mark 10:18, "there is none good but one, that is, God" (see also James 1:17). Brethren, we ought to be careful that we give God the glory for our blessings.
How shall the world ever know of the goodness of God if believers do not give proof that God is good? Let the redeemed of the LORD say so (Psalm 107:2). We need to spend time daily praising God for His goodness lest we repeat the sin of Israel and forget the mighty works of God.