By David Faust
When I was a boy my parents taught me to say a simple but profound prayer at the dinner table: “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for this food.”
“God is great”—so wise you can’t outfox him, so strong you can’t defeat him, so smart no I.Q. test can measure his knowledge, too big for the universe to contain.
There’s more to God, though, than raw power. Psalm 119:68 praises him by saying, “You are good.” We use good casually to describe a movie or a slice of pizza; but when applied to God, goodness rises to a whole new level. By nature the good Lord is holy, pure, and undefiled. He doesn’t just obey a moral code; he is the moral code! He defines and models it.
But the psalmist doesn’t stop by saying to God, “You are good.” In the same verse he goes on to affirm, “And what you do is good” (v. 68). God never does wrong. He never makes a mistake, never messes up, never does evil. God never fails.
Reasons for Gratitude
God created all things good at the dawn of time, and he still gives good gifts to his children. The psalmist prays, “Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord” (Psalm 119:65). Just as loving moms and dads would never mock their children by giving them rocks when they ask for bread, the heavenly Father gives good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9-11).
The only rational response? Thank the Lord! Thank him for every breath of air, bite of food, and drink of water. Thank him for every friendly conversation, every spiritual blessing, every answered prayer, every moment lived in hope. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), and every gift calls forth gratitude.
Good Gifts in Surprising Places
But what about the not-so-good times? Psalm 119:71 makes an interesting observation: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” How could it be “good for me to be afflicted”?
It doesn’t always feel like it, but God is good even when life isn’t good. He gives good gifts even when life is hard. Afflictions teach us to rely on God; to be patient, persevering, and content; to be flexible; to fix our eyes on things above. God brings good outcomes from bad circumstances. The psalmist observes, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (v. 67)—and that’s good!
King Hiram of Tyre provided King Solomon the lumber to build a temple and a palace in Jerusalem. Later, Solomon showed his gratitude by giving him 20 towns in Galilee, but Hiram considered them inferior locations. “What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?” he complained. He called them “the Land of Kabul,” which sounds like the Hebrew for “good-for-nothing” (1 Kings 9:10-13). It was hard for Galilee to overcome this negative reputation. Centuries later Nathanael sarcastically remarked about one of those Galilean towns, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46). The answer is “Yes!” Something (actually Someone) incredibly good came from Galilee. Jesus lived there, and wherever the Lord makes his home is a good place indeed.
He is great and he is good.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
THELOOKOUT’s Bible Reading Plan for June 10, 2012
1 Kings 13, 14
1 Kings 15, 16
1 Kings 17, 18
1 Kings 19, 20
1 Kings 21, 22
2 Kings 1—3
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