By Ray Meadows
Faculty, College of Theology
I read an article recently proclaiming some crazy things for which the author was thankful. A couple that I thought were funny included “my wife’s hair in the drain.” Of course, the reasoning was that if it was missing, so was his wife. Since he was grateful for the presence of his wife, he was grateful for the hair in the sink as well. Another one was his iPhone, because, well, there is an app for everything! It also allowed him to communicate with those he loved the most. Bible students know that every good gift (iPhones and such) and every perfect gift (our wives, of course) is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17).
One of the things I am most thankful for is God’s word, His love letter to humanity. It even helps me to know what to be thankful for, such as in the passage above and in this one: Psalm 107:1 says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for His steadfast loves endures forever.” During this time of national Thanksgiving, we who follow Jesus have something great to be thankful. God is good and His special love for us last forever!
What does this mean, exactly, that God is good? The Hebrew word tob (translated as ‘good’) has a lot of depth in that it can describe material or practical good, such as when it is good in God’s eyes to bless Israel (Numbers 24:1). It can describe abstract goodness such as wellbeing. For example, Israel thought they had it so good back in Egypt, they wanted to go back. It can describe beauty or something that is desirable, like Solomon describing the love of his bride (Song of Solomon 4:10). It also describes moral goodness. Primarily, ‘good’ describes the nature of God expressed in all these ways – He is good. This means that God’s very essence is good in all of its variations. He is the standard for ‘goodness’ and thus all He desires, accomplishes and provides to us is good.
This is why, when God created the universe and all that is in it, He would stop and proclaim the result as ‘good’ (Genesis 1:31). It could not have been anything else! It is incredible to think about how God provides ‘good’ to us. In some sense, when we experience these types of ‘good,’ as defined in God’s word, we experience the very nature of God Himself. That is certainly something for which to be thankful!
One way God demonstrates His goodness to us is by providing His steadfast love, which lasts forever, as we read in the passage above. God’s hesed (translated ‘steadfast love’) is an impressive term and refers to God’s mercy, loving kindness, longsuffering and favor that He provides to us. This incredibly rich term from the Old Testament, results from God’s goodness, thus also speaks to God’s nature and character. Not only does God provide for our needs, He is also patient, continuing to show us kindness, especially when we do not deserve it. Indeed – can we all give thanks? God is good!
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