God is Good

God Is Good
By: J. B. Hixson, Ph.D.

“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.” (Psalm 143:10)

When I was in the seventh grade my English teacher was Mrs. Lewis. She was my favorite teacher, and I owe her a great debt of gratitude for the many things she taught me during the course of that year. For example, when writing in our daily journals, Mrs. Lewis insisted that we use descriptive, flowery adjectives. There were certain adjectives that were off-limits because they were too boring. For example, she would not allow us to use the words “big” or “good.” Why not, “enormous” or “fantastic”? she would say.

She has a point. The word “good” has to be one of the most over-used adjectives in the English language. “How was your meal?” Good. “How was the movie?” Good. “Would you like some more iced tea?” No, thanks. I’m good. “ What does “good” really mean, anyway?

It seems like it’s a hair better than average and not quite as good as very good. Good might be two notches below excellent, but when compared with outstanding, good just doesn’t cut it at all. Consequently, when I hear the phrase “God is good” I often feel like we’re somehow cheating God out of a more worthy accolade. When speaking of the Creator of the universe it seems like we ought to be able to do better than “good.” How about “awesome” or “superb” or “magnificent”?

In Psalm 143, David uses this mundane word. He says, “You are my God; Your Spirit is good.” If David had written this Psalm in Mrs. Lewis’ English class, he would have failed the assignment. Fortunately for David, however, the Hebrew language is much more descriptive than English. The Hebrew word David uses in this passage actually means much more than simply “good,” as the English translation implies. In Hebrew the word has a number of different nuances such as “the best; bountiful, beautiful, precious, and pleasant.”

When David calls God “good” he is speaking of His very essence. God is inherently good, as opposed to evil. God is holy, pure and set apart. He is righteous. That is, He breaks no laws. In fact, He is the law. Yes, God is good. Therefore, every good and perfect gift has its origin in God. (James 1:17) I don’t know about you, but I like good things. I like good food, good movies and good times. And most of all, I like serving a good God. With all of the disappointments and let downs in life, isn’t it great to know that God is good?

It is absolutely impossible for God to be anything other than good. We never have to wonder or doubt what God is going to do next. Whatever it is, we can be certain it will be good. Paul put it this way, “And we know that all things work for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) With all due respect to Mrs. Lewis, God really is good!

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