The word ‘good’ is so commonplace and associated with so many fleshly things that we easily lose sight of what God’s goodness really means. Yet this and His mercy are key to imperative to praise Him constantly, for no other reason but that God is good and His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:29)
It’s with great joy that I find myself, for the first time in around three weeks, able to focus on more than simply hanging on to Jesus in an effort to make it through each hour. I returned from a trip to the Lowveld the proverbial ‘dead woman walking’ and headed for the doctor. Tuberculosis was the very last thing on my list of possibilities, but that’s what it is. When people say the treatment is worse than the disease, it is. No doubt about it. Two weeks in and I seem to have turned a corner, though there is a long way to go. But through it all, a verse that stuck in my head on the long drive home has never left me. In my dark moments – and some were very dark – it has remained, and I’ve had time to ponder the reality that God is good.
Understanding the measure of God is good.
We have watered down the understanding of ‘good’ – ice cream is good, as is a movie, a weekend away, a book, and any number of things through the day. But when God looked at creation, He saw that it was good. This was because creation was the manifestation of the perfect will of God. It could only be good because it was the work of a God who is wholly and intrinsically good. It goes far deeper than simply saying we cannot separate Him from His goodness. That’s true, but it’s a characteristic that defines and embodies every aspect or characteristic of God. Whatever He does is good. His will and purposes are good. Within Him is absolutely no trace of sin or evil or weakness. He is perfect, and that perfection includes the limitless measure of goodness that is Him and infuses all He does.
The tendency is to define His goodness in terms of what He does for us. It’s not entirely incorrect, because His goodness includes all he does and provides. But it’s a limiting view because it’s focused on self rather than on Him. We define God is good by what we perceive in His interaction with us or action for us. But He isn’t good because does good things. He does good things because He is good. He can do no less. To do even ‘slightly’ good would deny His basic, intrinsic nature. It has nothing to do with us at all. Anything He does is good. Yes, He desires to do good to us because He loves us. But this is the outworking of the eternal goodness that is who He is. Even when chastising us, He is good, though it may not feel like it at the time.
God is good and His mercy endures forever.
This is a critical part of today’s verse because His goodness and mercy go hand in hand. Without His inherent goodness, it would not be possible for God to be eternally merciful. We need only think of ourselves to understand this. Today, in a good mood, we might be more inclined to mercy than when we are short-tempered or things aren’t going well. Mercy, from a human perspective, is frail and tenuous and without certainty. Yet, as humans, mercy is something we all desperately need. Our transgressions and weaknesses would destroy us were it not for God’s eternal mercy. This mercy is the natural outworking of His goodness. It is God is good in action. All those little acts of protection and provision or forgiveness are His mercy at work. It’s the manifestation of His goodness in an active and vital way.
The reality is that He does not have to do anything for us. He’s God, we’re saved by grace, and even that was not an unavoidable ‘have-to’ on His part. Yet His mercy, like His goodness, is eternal. It’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, just as He is – as His goodness is. It’s eternal because God is good eternally, perfectly, and completely. We must understand that we cannot separate the two. Our verse today makes that clear. For He is good and for His mercy endures forever. They carry the same weight. Note also that it’s mercy not mercies. The Bible does say that there is no limit to His mercies. These are the acts of mercy that manifest His goodness in our lives. But His mercy is eternal because His goodness is eternal. If it were not, there would be no assurance of limitless mercies each day.
God is good and giving thanks.
The Bible provides any number of verses relating to giving thanks. Today’s verse is a simple imperative. We’re told to do it. This carries two implications. The first is that it’s not situation-specific. In other words, it’s not part of prayer or in response to His mercies. This doesn’t mean those other instances of thanksgiving can be ignored. They are and always will be relevant and must be part of our lives of worship. But the injunction today is to give thanks to the Lord. It’s universal, ongoing, and unchangeable. We are to give thanks to the Lord over and above our daily thanksgiving and praise. The reason for this is He is good and His mercy endures forever. These are immutable and never change. So irrespective of what may be happening to and around us, we must continually give thanks because God is good and merciful.
The second truth is that giving thanks has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. This kind of thanksgiving goes beyond the basic He helps us and we give thanks. It’s a way of life rather than a suggestion. Our spiritual attitude must shift to accommodate the reality that we’re commanded to give thanks continually as part of our daily lives. We do so not because we receive something or expect something. It’s because God is good and His mercy eternal. What the Bible tells us here is that the simple truth of these two things is all we need for thanksgiving. Everything else is simply the outworking of the powerful truth which defines Him. First, that He can nothing that is not good and second, that His goodness actively and dynamically manifests through His eternal mercy. That’s sufficient reason to obey and give thanks.
Taking hold of God is good.
I don’t doubt for a moment that receiving this verse on the road had a particular purpose. There were many times where the darkness and struggle felt ‘life and death’ with Jesus the only hope. I have repeated this over and over and focused on the reality of His goodness. It reminded me of who and what He is. I was able to look beyond the intensity of the struggle and focus on His power, sovereignty, and victorious authority. But the reason I could stand firm in this assurance was that He instilled these truths deep in my heart through constant meditation. God is good and His mercy endures forever. Sometimes, like the last two weeks, this is the only truth that can carry us through.
Faith is an active, powerful thing when rooted in the Rhema or Logos Word of God. This simple verse has the power to help us stand when sometimes, we’re capable of little else than to take hold of the truth and give thanks.
Gracious Father, we give thanks today for the truth and the reminder that You are good and your mercy endures forever. Thank You that Your goodness knows in advance what we need, even in times of intense trial. Your mercy provides what we need, even without us realising it, and You Yourself are the power that sustains our faith because You provide the deep revelation of all You are to strengthen us.