February 22, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Psalm 34: 1
“Let not thy praises be transcent – a fit of music, and then the instrument hung by the wall till another day of some remarkable providence makes thee take it down. God comes not guestwise to His (children’s) house, but to dwell with them. David took this up for a life work: ‘As long as I live, I will praise Thee.’”
Today’s Study Text:
“Surely only goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days.”
Psalm 23: 6, Amplified Bible
Psalm 23 Part 24
“Bumping Into Our Father’s Goodness Everywhere!”
“God’s goodness is the root of all goodness; and our goodness, if we have any, springs out of His goodness.”
How would I describe God’s goodness?
In what ways has God’s goodness been apparent in my own life?
“’For the Lord is good’…take goodness. It is laid up in vast reservoirs in the nature of God; prepared for the poor, the food of the hungry, the lodge of the righteous, the crown of the year, the very sun of life. ‘How great is His goodness’ (Zechariah 9: 17).”
F. B. Meyer
“Know and understand with approval that the Lord is God! It is He who has made us, not we ourselves and we are His! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture…Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good.”
Psalm 100: 3-5
I remember a song I sang in my early teens. It was a simple and very repetitive tune: “God is so good. God is so good. God is so good. He’s so good to me.” You might be thinking to yourself, “Well that is a rather boring song. Repeating one phrase over and over again.” Yet I’d like to interject this perception which I don’t believe I recognized when I sang these words: God is really, truly good. Surely He is. As one person noted, David didn’t say “maybe” God was good. Or that “possibly” He was good. Instead, throughout the Psalms, David not only highlighted the concept of a good God, but he put to bed the myth that God was some hateful being, taking His wrath out on unsuspecting mortals.
To help us understand, in specific terms, the way the Psalmist felt about God, author David Roper, in his book Psalm 23: The Song of a Passionate Heart, makes this interesting point about what is referred to as God’s loving goodness. “The Psalms are filled with affirmations of God’s love for us: ‘I trust in Your unfailing love…’ (Psalm 13: 5). David writes, ‘I …rejoice in Your love (Psalm 31: 7). ‘You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to You’ (Psalm 86: 5). ‘The Lord is good and His love endures forever’ (Psalm 100: 5). ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever’ (Psalm 106 – 2 times). ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever’ (Psalm 136 - 25 times!).
This is the Shepherd that David tells us not only leads, guides and provides, but at the core of His being He is a “good” shepherd. I found it extremely insightful to read what Pastor Gary V. Simpson pointed out in his commentary on Psalm 23, “The entire Hebrew Scriptures drip with the goodness of God. (In Psalm 23) there is opportunity to see a Biblical perspective that actually begins with the goodness of God in the very first days of creation. Simply put, God is good before the human is even created.” But this isn’t all there is to God’s goodness. As Pastor Simpson brings to our attention, “The goodness of God is in every place before we ever arrived at any particular place. The good things that happen to us along life’s journey do not happen because we have arrived. God’s goodness has already been where we are planning to go. The goodness of God is so present that every direction that we turn to look, wherever we are, we bump into goodness again…The goodness of God goes ahead of us, clearing out new ground, pulling us to new terrain, lighting a pathway in the dark places of new possibility, opening doors that no one can shut.” This for me is a great deal of goodness to absorb. In fact, as Robert J. Morgan shares, “Goodness is almost too big a biblical term to describe. The Hebrew word David used refers to goodness in its broadest sense, covering physical, moral, practical, economic, spiritual, emotional, and eternal grace toward us in all its dimensions. The word good is a characteristic of God, and it refers to the essential nature of His perfections and benevolence. He is a good God, and He continually fills our lives with goodness and with good things.”
Let me ask you, “How many times, when facing some overwhelming situation in your life, have you been engulfed with the realization that your God, your Shepherd, is good and that He only wants what is best for you?”
Too frequently I must admit, when some problem plops itself down in my world, the first thing that happens is that I lament the fact that I’m not strong enough to handle whatever it is that has knocked me off my feet and turned my life into a shambles. In his booklet on Psalm 23, Dr. Robert McQuilkin puts forth the thought that we sometimes allow our lives to fall into a trap defined by the word, “but.” As he notes, “the difference between victory and defeat is the position of the word but.” We may know in our hearts that God is good, but when frayed emotions get a choke-hold on us, it may be easy to ask, “But if God is so good, then why did this bad thing happen to me?”
It is here where I’d like to return to the word “surely” which begins the phrase, “Surely goodness and mercy.”
Despite what may be going on in your life right now, as author F. B. Meyer so encouragingly shares, “You have only to turn around or to swoon backward and you will find yourself caught in the arms of God’s goodness and mercy, which are following you always…with such hope there need be no element of doubt. ‘Surely,’ says the psalmist. Why so sure? Because God is unchangeable.” God keeps His word. He won’t withdraw His goodness for it is who He is. As Pastor Meyer explains the way God’s goodness embraces each of His children, he highlights the truth that we know we can trust God for: “Surely, God has never failed in the past. Surely, because it would not become Him to take in hand and not complete. Surely, because He has pledged Himself by exceeding great and precious promises. Surely, because the united testimony of (God’s) children attest that He never fails or forsakes. Surely, because (God) has set His love on us in eternity, He is not likely to forget us in time.”
No matter the challenges you face in your life today, “surely goodness” is by your side, walking your path for your Shepherd is truly the good Shepherd.
I’m always thrilled when I find some new thought penned by author Ruth Calkins. Over the past few months, I came upon a piece she wrote which I find to perfectly describe God’s gracious goodness and love for each of us:
“I may fall flat on my face; I may fail until I feel old and beaten and done in. Yet your goodness and love is changeless. All the music may go out of my life, my private world may shatter to dust. Even so, you hold me in the palm of your steady hand. No turn in the affairs of my fractured life can baffle you. Satan with all his braggadocio cannot distract you. Nothing can separate me from your measureless love – pain can’t, disappointment can’t, anguish can’t. Yesterday, today, tomorrow can’t. The loss of my dearest love can’t. Death can’t, life can’t. Riots, wars, insanity, non-identity, hunger, neurosis, disease – none of these things, nor all of them heaped together can budge the fact that I am dearly loved, completely forgiven and forever free through Jesus Christ, your beloved Son.”
The song I learned as a young girl may have sounded rather simple, perhaps redundant – but it was oh so true. Our God is good! Now and forevermore!
“High in the heavens, eternal God,
Thy goodness in full glory shines;
Thy truth shall break through every cloud
That veils and darkens Thy designs.”
“O taste and see that the Lord our God is good! Blessed is the man (or woman) who trusts and takes refuge in Him.”
Psalm 34: 8
“O my God, Thou art good; there is none good but Thee; all greatness Thou art, but all goodness first. Out of Thy goodness Thou madest us; by Thy goodness we know Thee; for thy goodness we love Thee; after Thy goodness we would walk; to the goodness of Thy Kingdom, come. Thy goodness follows us all the days of our life, and most blessed of all is the promised end that we shall see Thee, come to Thee, live with Thee. Let us begin that heaven here through the spirit Thy bounty gives us. Be the sense of Thy goodness ever in our souls, waking a goodness therein to answer Thine. Let the Lord be praised daily, even the God who shows us His goodness plenteously and pours His benefits upon us. Praise thou the Lord O my soul.”
W. J. Carey, D.D.
“Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who worship and revere You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You.”
Psalm 31: 19
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!
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