Part 1: God Is Good to You and Me | Part 2: God Is Good to His People
It’s often been said that if God is great but not good, we’re doomed to extinction; if he’s good but not great, then we’re doomed as well, because there’s nothing he can do about our needs. David has delighted us with his meditation on God’s goodness, but now he exponentiates that delight by noting that God can—and will—do all that his goodness motivates him to do.
To begin with, he knows (Ps 103.14)—specifically, he knows the weakness of our constitution (“our frame, … that we are dust,” as the KJV so lyrically puts it).
The fact that God knows all things is an immense assurance to us, his people. He knows who we are and what we are; he knows what’s coming down the highway at us; he knows what it will take to deliver us from the Enemy. He knows.
And because he is good—a point David has already established—he loves us and wills to deliver us.
Omniscience is one of the noncommunicable attributes of God, one of the ways he stands apart from, and above, all other beings and all the forces of his creation. When we face the complexities of life, there’s a lot we don’t know, and we find that ignorance frustrating—“What should I do?”—and sometimes even fear-inducing—“What’s going to happen to me?” But he knows.
We have a few short years—as I approach age 70, I understand all the more how short they are—in which we can get done all those things we seek to accomplish, the bucket list and everything else. We’re constantly frustrated by the obvious fact that there just isn’t enough time.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But God, God lives forever. He has always existed, and he always will. For him there is no deadline pressure, no crowded schedule, no ebbing of strength or mental focus.
And that means that his attributes, all of them, have always been and always will be. That goodness David told us about? Still good. Always will be.
Here David focuses on a single aspect of God’s goodness:
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.
Here the KJV calls this attribute “mercy,” which in English is the withholding of deserved punishment. That in itself is a remarkable source of hope.
But the other English versions render this word differently:
- NASB: “lovingkindness”
- ESV: “steadfast love”
- CSB: “faithful love”
- NIV “love”
It should occur to us that these are much bigger ideas than just mercy, the withholding of punishment. And that’s a clue that there’s more to this underlying Hebrew word than we might expect.
This is the word hesed, which is one of the most theologically significant words in the entire Hebrew Scripture. It’s the focus of the most often-repeated verse in the Bible: “his mercy endureth forever.” When I was in Seminary, my Hebrew professor glossed it as “steadfast loving loyalty.”
This is covenantal commitment to an important relationship. It’s the fierce determination to see to the welfare of someone you are committed to in love. It’s how husbands ought to treat their wives, and wives their husbands, and parents their children, and children their parents.
Totally committed. Determined.
That’s how God sees his people. And he sees them that way forever. No matter what.
If you’re his child, he is committed to exercising his goodness on your behalf for as long as he lives—until, as the founder of my university put it, “the angels sing a funeral dirge over his grave.”
And that, my friends, will never happen.
He is infinitely good, and he is infinitely great. He wants to protect, direct, and empower his people; he is able to do that; and he is committed to do it.
So how should we respond?