Beloved: Grace and Peace
Elkmont Baptist Church
Dearest and Beloved
What is Good?
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophet Micah asks a very important rhetorical question: "Wherewith shall I come before the LORD,
bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him
with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn
my transgression, the fruit of my body
good; and what doth the LORD
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). Here is the golden rule and the Great Commandment summarized in the Old Testament. He states that God has shown us what is good and what the Lord requires of us. I would like to focus on the statement "what is good."
What is Good?
In Isaiah's day, he was led to prophesy: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). It had gotten worse by Jeremiah's day, and he was led to prophesy: "For my people
foolish, they have not known me; they
and they have none understanding: they
wise to do evil, but to do good they have
no knowledge" (Jeremiah 4:22). Brothers and sisters, do we not live in a culture which calls evil good and good evil and tries to put darkness for light and bitter for sweet? So the question I am faced with is what does God call good? And what does God call evil? How will our children learn to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14), and how will they learn to refuse evil and choose good (Isaiah 7:16)? I would like to explore what God calls good and what God calls evil. I believe this is the heart of training our children. Our youth are experiencing the truth of Genesis 8:21, ". . . for the imagination of man's heart
evil from his youth;" and crying out like Paul, "For that which I do I
allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I" (Romans 7:15).
God's Word and Commands
What is good? He has shown us, O men and women, what is good. In Deuteronomy 12:28, Moses declares, "Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee forever, when thou doest
that which is
good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God."
The words of the Ten Commandments and the satutes and precepts contained in the law are declared to be good and right in the sight of the LORD our God. Paul echoes Moses, "Wherefore the law
Moses declares that life and good is to love the LORD our God: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgements, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it" (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). Paul declares that the will of God is good: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what
and acceptiable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).
In 1 Samuel 25:15, Nabal's servants declare, "But the men
very good unto us,
and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields." The servants declared that David's men were very good. They did not hurt those weaker than they. They did not steal from those weaker than they. They protected those who were weaker than they. Very good.
In 1 Samuel 12:23, after choosing a king and asking Samuel to continue to pray for them, Samuel responds, "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way." Do you notice that Samuel considered it to be sin against the LORD to cease praying for those under his authority?
In 1 Kings 3:9, Solomon prays to God asking, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" An understanding heart is necessary to discern between good and evil (the Hebrew word for bad is translated evil 442 times out of 663 uses). So we must ask for an understanding heart (a hearing heart) to be able to discern between good and evil.
David says in Psalm 34:11-14: "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man
is he that
he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." David declares what is the fear of the LORD in application: keep your tongue from evil and guile, depart from evil, do good, seek and pursue peace. He tells us that this will result in life and many days, and that we will see good.
The good and right way is found in God's Word. To be able to discern between good and evil, we need to ask God for a hearing heart. To see good, we must guard our tongue and our feet.
Attributes of God
David tells us that the name of the LORD is good: "I will praise thee forever, because thou hast done
and I will wait on thy name; for
good before thy saints"
(Psalm 52:9), and "I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for
good" (Psalm 54:6). The name of the LORD is good and worthy to be praised.
Not only is His name good, but the Psalmist assures us that the LORD is good! "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for his mercy
(Psalm 106:1). "O give thanks unto the LORD, for
good: for his mercy
forever" (Psalm 107:1). "O give thanks unto the LORD; for
good: for his mercy
forever" (Psalm 118:29). "O give thanks unto the LORD; for
for his mercy
forever" (Psalm 136:1).
Do you get the idea that our God is good? Do you notice that mercy is tied tightly to His goodness? Do you ever need to be reminded as I do that His mercy endures forever? When we know our God is good, His name is good, His mercies endure forever, we can cry with David, "O taste and see that the LORD
trusteth in him" (Psalm 34:8).
Elihu, in speaking to Job and his three friends, says, "Let us choose to us judgement: let us know among ourselves what
good" (Job 34:4). So let us continue to see what
God has shown us to be good and let us know among ourselves what is good.
"Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness
good: turn unto me according to the
multitude of thy tender mercies" (Psalm 69:16).
good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that
I may declare all thy works" (Psalm 73:28).
"For thou, Lord,
good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them
that call upon thee" (Psalm 86:5).
". . . It is a
to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises to thy name,
O most High:" (Psalm 92:1).
"But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy
good, deliver thou me" (Psalm 109:21).
We see from these Psalms that the lovingkindness of the LORD is good. It is good to draw near to God. (See James for the procedure to draw near to God). We see again that the Lord is good and the attributes of His goodness are manifested in being plenteous in mercy and being ready to forgive. We see it is good to give thanks unto the LORD and to sing praises unto His name (remember His name is good). We see that His mercy is good.
Young people, Elihu, when he spoke, identified himself as one young in years when compared to Job and his friends. He knew as a young man what is good. Let us know among ourselves what is good.
The writer of Psalm 119 tells us what is good: "Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments
good" (Psalm 119:39).
good for me that I have been afflicted;
that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71). "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments
thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me" (Psalm 119:75).
The writer of Psalm 119 says God's judgments are good. He says that it was good for him to be afflicted in order to teach him God's statutes. He praises God because God's judgments are right, and God afflicted him in faithfulness. Do you ever wonder about God's judgments? Do you ever wonder about His goodness when He afflicts you? I do. Oh, that my response will be like the writer of Psalm 119. In order to declare His judgements good, and in order to praise Him for our afflictions, we must have the longsighted view, mustn't we?
O LORD, Your judgments are good and right. In faithfulness You have afflicted me that I might learn Your word and know that You are good. Truly, You cause all things to work together for our good that we may be conformed to the image of Jesus, Your Son, our Lord.
The Psalmist tells us: "Praise ye the LORD: for
good to sing praises unto our
praise is comely" (Psalm 147:1). What happens when
we praise God? "But thou
that inhabitest the praises of Israel"
(Psalm 22:3). David tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. What happens when God inhabits the praises of His people?
2 Chronicles 20 records an incident which befell Judah during Jehoshaphat's reign. Verse 1 records, "It came to pass after this also,
the children of Moab, and the
children of Ammon, and with them
beside the Ammonites, came against
Jehoshaphat to battle" (2 Chronicles 21:1). What did Jehoshaphat do? Verses 3-4 tell us, "And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask
LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD" (2 Chronicles 20:3-4). Verses 6-12 record Jehoshaphat's prayer. Please read it for it is wonderful (2 Chronicles 20:6-12). Verses 15-17 declare God's answer to Jehoshaphat. Verse 22 tells us what happened: "And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten" (Chronicles 20:22).
the sin of my soul?" (Micah 6:6-7). He
answers it, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what
holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good"
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the man that