The Goodness of God
Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh
From the Series: Let Me See Thy Glory – A Study of the Attributes of God
Mo, one of the inmates in a maximum security prison where I conducted a seminar, was a very substantial fellow. While Mo did not quite meet the requirements of a sumo wrestler, he came close enough to command a great deal of respect. For all of his size and strength, he had lost virtually all of his front teeth. When Mo volunteered to provide special music for the seminar, my friend Dick Plowman, a former member of our church and prison ministry colleague, introduced Mo to the audience: “Now, let’s see, what number is Mo going to sing for us? Right! Anything he wants!”
Here was a man of great strength, a man most inmates would not wish to challenge or offend. Because of his strength, he could do anything he wanted within the limits of the prison system. The power and raw physical strength of an evil man is a frightening reality. The power of a good man is a comfort. But the other attributes a man possesses determines how his power is viewed.
In and of itself, God’s power is not nearly as comforting as when seen in light of several of His other attributes. Two of these attributes are the “goodness” of God and the “wisdom” of God. The God who is all-powerful is the same God who is good and wise; God’s power becomes a source of great comfort and encourage-ment to the Christian. This lesson considers the attribute of God’s goodness, and our following lesson will study the attribute of God’s wisdom. A brief review of some important truths about the goodness of God should help to show us the importance of studying God’s goodness.
1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalms 107:1).
19 How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! (Psalms 31:19).
5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days (Hosea 3:5).
The goodness of God is not only an attribute of God but a foundational truth every Christian should embrace. Consider some of the reasons God’s goodness is important to us.
(1) The “goodness” of God is prominent in the opening chapters of the Bible. Repeatedly, God pronounced everything which He created “good” (see Genesis 1:4, 10, 18; 1 Timothy 4:4). In chapter 2, God saw that it was “not good” for Adam to be alone, and so He created a wife for him (2:18-25). In the garden of Eden, where God had placed Adam and Eve, there was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” From the fruit of this one tree, the man and woman were forbidden to eat. We shall return to this matter of “goodness” in the garden, for it is a vitally important truth. Suffice to say the issues of “goodness” and “evil” are prominent at the beginning of the Bible.
(2) The goodness of God appears to be the sum total of all of God’s attributes. The goodness of God may thus be viewed as one facet of His glorious nature and character and also the overall summation of His nature and character.
19 Then Moses said, “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Exodus 33:19; see also Exodus 34:5-7).
(3) We cannot separate what is good from God. You cannot have goodness without God, just as you cannot have God without goodness. God alone is good:
2 I said to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord; I have no good besides Thee” (Psalms 16:2).
16 And behold, one came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is [only] One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:16-17).
No man is good:
1 (For the choir director. [A Psalm] of David.) The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good (Psalms 14:1; seePsalm 53:1; Romans 3:9-18).
God is the source of everything that is good:
17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow (James 1:17).
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
We simply cannot separate “good” from “God.” Here is where our society, and especially our educational system, had better take note. You cannot teach values, you cannot teach morality, without teaching about God. “Be ye holy,” God said, “for I am holy” (see 1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 11:44f.).
(4) Man’s eternal destiny is determined by his decision as to how one can truly be good in God’s sight (See John 5:28-29; Romans 3:1-26; Titus 3:3-7).
(5) Apart from the divine revelation of the Scriptures, we cannot recognize true goodness, for it cannot be understood apart from knowing God and seeing life from His perspective. This is precisely the point of Psalm 73 which we will now consider, for it gives us a radically different definition of “good.”