The Goodness of God - Part 2

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” That expression is a worthy wish for the world, that all might recognize the goodness of God and respond to it in loving obedience. In our study together last time, we looked at the goodness of God as it is depicted to us by the Psalmist in Psalm 107. As we concluded, we were examining the verse we just noticed, where the Psalmist expressed the desire that all would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works. This expression is repeated four times in Psalm 107. Last time we noticed it in verse 8, and then we looked at the verse that followed it, where the psalmist declared: “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (v. 9).

This gives us one reason for praising God. The goodness of God leads to goodness in man, as we pointed out last time. “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Here, in verse 15, the Psalmist repeats His desire that all men respond to God’s goodness with praise. In verse 16 we are given another reason for praising God’s goodness: “For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.” This reminds us of the promise of God to forgive all of our trespasses, to blot from His Book of remembrance forevermore everything that is against us. God forgets, so we know that when we come to Him as he has outlined in His Word, there is absolute freedom, full forgiveness, and no remembrance of sin. We can start a new life, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ—justified, made whole, washed as white as snow. The same is true for the erring child of God who has wandered from the right way when he comes home. There is that same absolute and full forgiveness where there is repentance as God has outlined. That very fact in itself should prompt us to repent. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). God has made forgiveness possible, regardless of our past, regardless of how we may have viewed ourselves in our past life. Through God and Jesus Christ all things are made new. We are truly new creatures.

In verse 21, we see the same phrase, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” And in verse 22, we see an outgrowth, a logical response to the goodness of God: “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” What is the logical thing for man to do when he truly realizes the goodness of God? To make sacrifices of thanksgiving and to declare God’s works with rejoicing. No one has to force a person to worship God, to praise God, to study the Bible, to do good for others, and to live the Christian life. When one has completely contemplated and understood the matchless goodness of Almighty God, the logical outgrowth of that recognition of His goodness is the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

This gets back to the very motive for serving in the first place. Isn’t that what the Psalmist is saying—the very same things every other writer of the Bible, Old Testament and New alike, have said to us? Real joy comes from cheerful, loving service, service that is based upon a recognition of what God has done for you and for me.

Let us offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing every day we live, not just in the worship, but by the lives we live and by the words we speak. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so and let them live in that same way as to show appreciation to God.

Finally, verse 31 repeats the same expression: “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” The verse that follows again shows a further logical outgrowth of reflecting upon God’s goodness: “Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Let them not be afraid to express gratitude to God for His great providence in their lives, His watch-care over them. Let’s recognize the providence of God in our lives as Christians. Let’s talk to others and to ourselves as Christians about what God has done in our lives. The figure that precedes is the figure of the sailor on the sea. The storm rages, and yet God calms the storm, saves his life; and when the sailor returns to shore, he is not ashamed to say in the congregation of the people, “I am thankful for God’s watch-care and His providence over me.”

If anyone recognizes the providence of God in his life and what God has done for him, it should be the child of God, not for just the initial forgiveness of sins and the initial blessings in Christ, but for the continual blessings in Christ, both materially and spiritually, for He will provide for us as much as we need. He will take care of us. He promised it and Jesus promised it when He said, “You don’t need to be anxious for your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, and what you will wear. Put ‘first things first,’ and I will take care of the rest. You seek first the kingdom of heaven, and I will take care of your needs.”

When He does, what should we do? We should exalt him privately and publicly. Let us “praise Him in the assembly of the elders” (Psalm 107:32). Christians should praise Him in the congregation and express our gratitude with rejoicing. The Psalmist summarizes it well in Psalm 107:43: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” This verse tells us to look for the good God has done for us. Look for it every day, and we will find it, because it is there. The world does not see it because the world does not look for it; but the child of God should look for it, should anticipate it, expect it, and be grateful for it as he lives a faithful life before God and his fellow man. If we are not looking for it, if we are not anticipating it, it is going to be difficult for us to be aware of it, and if we are not aware of it, it is going to be difficult for us to be appreciative of it. Yet, the whole point of this great Psalm 107 is “Praise Him for His goodness.” Be aware of it, and that awareness will strengthen us to to live the kind of life God wants us to live because we will be aware of His presence every day in our lives, and that awareness will prompt us to do good and not evil.

Ironically, some have such a distorted view of the God of Heaven they actually use His goodness as an excuse to do wrong. There are those who will say, “God is such a good God, such a loving God, such a merciful God, I don’t believe He would condemn me, though I may not be living a faithful life. I can’t believe God will condemn those who are sincerely wrong. I can’t believe this because God is good.” That’s the whole point of this lesson—God is good, but the goodness of God should prompt us to obey what He has specified in his word—not to disobey it, claiming that His goodness will save us despite our disobedience. How foolish that reasoning is, especially when we are reminded by Paul in Romans 11:22, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God.” God is good—He is the epitome of goodness, but there is more to God’s nature than just goodness that excuses disobedience. The goodness of God cannot excuse disobedience of which one does not repent, because God, who is the epitome of goodness, is also the epitome of justice. Thus Paul says, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Is it unfair or unreasonable that God in His great goodness and mercy has said, “I’ll continue to be good to you if you will simply continue to follow the plan which I have given to make men good and righteous”? Oh, the blessings are manifold, indeed, for those who, being aware of His goodness, will render initial obedience to God and who will continue to praise Him for his goodness by their lives and their words.

If you are not a Christian, you have not responded to the greatest motivation to make you a child of God—not fear, not horror, not dread, but simply, goodness—matchless goodness—the goodness of God—so good that He sent His Son to die for us when we were not worthy in any sense of that kind of love and goodness. Yet He did it; and because He did it, all that remains for us to do is to respond to that goodness in believing that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, to repent of our sins and turn our backs on this world, and to turn to God and Christ, confessing Christ as Lord and being buried with Him in baptism for the forgiveness of sins. There in baptism His blood awaits to cleanse us from every stain. From the waters of baptism we may rise to walk in newness of life, completely forgiven, with the gates of bronze broken and the bars of iron cut in two.

Full forgiveness and a heart filled with gratitude for that forgiveness will cause one to live in such a way as to be led by the teachings of God—led toward that city of habitation which awaits the righteous. What greater motivation could be given?

If you have lost sight of that as a Christian, if you have left the way and have wandered back into the world, will you not allow that same motivation—the goodness of God, to cause you to come home to your first love, to get back on the right way, and to admit to yourself and to your God who waits to forgive you, “I cannot correct my own steps. I need your forgiveness and guidance”?

For those who are faithful to God and living faithful lives, may that goodness ever remind us there is so much for which to praise Him! We should spend every waking moment living for Him, loving Him, and doing all we can to lead others into that same way of salvation.