About half way through last months journal plan I was wondering what would be an appropriate attribute of God’s character to follow something as immense as sovereignty. And then I realized I had a song playing over and over again in my head, “Goodness of God” by Caleb and Kelsey.
Sovereignty, we have seen, is supreme power, and in and of itself that is frightening. When we think back over history of people who have come to have supreme or unlimited power, it never ends well. But the difference between man and God is goodness. Because God’s power is divine power, we need not fear. As we defined it last month, divine means supremely good. So we rest in the fact that our God is both supremely powerful and supremely good.
Goodness is defined as that which is pleasing, valuable or useful. In the original Hebrew, goodness means a good thing, benefit, or welfare. The Hebrew word is towb, and it “describes that which is appealing and pleasant to the senses, is useful and profitable, is abundant and plentiful, is kind and benevolent, is good in a moral sense as opposed to evil…” (Hebrew - Greek Key Word Study Bible). God our Father is all of these and more. What I mean by more is this, He isn’t all of these things in a distant and removed sense. He is all of these in an intimate and Fatherly sense. Just like my desire for goodness in my children's lives is not detached because of my love for them, neither is God’s for us.
What really brought this home for me was a bible study I did a number of years ago on Psalm 23. As we were studying verse 6 there was one word that changed how I read that psalm forever since that day. That word was follow.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell
in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
The Greek word for follow is katadioko and it means “to follow up or closely, with the determination to find” (Vines). The Hebrew word for follow is radaph which means to pursue, chase, and attend closely upon. Re-read Psalm 23:6 with those new words, the meaning is entirely different.
God’s goodness is pursing you, chasing you, attending closely to you. Why? To ensure that you arrive in the house of the Lord where you will dwell forever. You aren’t going to hopefully make it to heaven, you aren’t out here trudging the path alone left to your own devices. You have a supremely powerful God using His supreme goodness to ensure that you dwell with Him forever, that’s how much He loves you.
Whenever I read Psalm 23 I think of sheep dogs. Sheep dogs have one job, get the sheep in the pen. How do they do this? They chase and bark and sometimes nip at the sheep, who by nature want to run from the sheep pen instead of into it. The sheep dogs work tirelessly to ensure that every sheep makes it to safety, but the sheep don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. To the sheep they are a nuisance and sometimes a literal pain keeping them from what they want. Can you see the correlation? God desires to get us to the place of ultimate safety and security but sometimes He has to chase and bark and even nip painfully at us to get us there. We often don’t see this as goodness, but in light of the ultimate destination, it most definitely is.
*** Note, April 2 to April 9 we will be journaling the events of Holy Week. We will resume the Goodness of God on Monday, April 10.