Psalm 119:65-72 — The Nature of Goodness

Psalm 119:65-72

65 Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Lessons

Throughout the course of our lives, we hear a lot about trying to be good. We are taught the importance of good habits and good manners. We reward our children for good behavior. Entire religions rely on an ability to be good or to attain goodness. Even people without faith claim, though they worship no one in particular, they are still generally a “good” person and, if there is a God, surely he will take notice.

But, as Christians, we reject the notion that our inherently sinful nature is capable of goodness. Rather, we rely entirely on God’s goodness. 

So what is the nature of this goodness that only God can provide?

65. God’s goodness is a promise. God’s goodness is not a fickle emotion. God’s very nature is good and His goodness is His promise to us when we submit our lives to him (as a “servant”).

66. The foundation of goodness is faith. Too often we pursue knowledge and wisdom in an effort to establish belief. But that is not faith. Belief in God — our faith — is the foundation of knowledge and good judgment (which we sometimes call “wisdom”). We must first believe God’s Word is truth and then we will grow in knowledge and wisdom.

67. God’s goodness leads us to obedience. When we choose to sin, we stray from God’s Word. In fact, it is our human nature to do so. But it is by the goodness of the Holy Spirit that are we able to obey it.

68. We learn that God’s nature — and His will — is good by studying Scripture.  This verse tell us quite plainly that God is good. And everything God does or allows is good. When life’s circumstances seem to contradict this truth — in times of hurt, hardship, disease, loss, persecution, and in all of life’s trials — we sometimes tend to abandon God’s Word and instead try to make sense of our suffering on our own. But we will only see God’s goodness — and His good will for us — when we dig deep into His Word and choose to learn from Him.

69. What goodness is not. Those whose hearts are hard toward God and refuse to acknowledge their need for Him (this is true “arrogance”) will mock me, pressure me, aim to hurt me, and try to steal, kill and destroy my beliefs, my will, and my reputation. But even in the face of what goodness is not, I am only able to be strong and remain faithful when my heart is focused on God’s Word.

70.  Goodness delights in God, not man. The result of arrogance is a callous and unfeeling heart. Conversely, those who follow Jesus remain sensitive to sin, to pain, and to suffering — and also to joy, to love, and to peace — by finding our delight in God’s Word, rather than the approval of people.

71. Goodness is being thankful for affliction because it points us to Jesus. What happens when you are looking at something very small — something that is hard to see? You lean closer to it. Why? Because the closer you are to something, the larger it appears.  So, when we are “afflicted” (sick, struggling, or suffering in any way), and it might be hard to “see” Jesus in the midst of our circumstances, we ought to lean closer into the Scriptures. The closer we lean to Jesus, the larger He appears in our lives.

It is in these hardest times of life that we seek God with all our heart because we’ve been driven to a point when we are no longer able to answer or provide for ourselves. And as a result, it is these hardest times when we experience God’s goodness and faithfulness and kindness and gentleness in the most profound way. This is why we can be thankful not just in times of affliction, but for affliction itself, and “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). This is true grace.

72. God’s Law is good. God’s law — and our inability to keep it perfectly as His holiness demands that we do — points us to our need for Jesus (Romans 3:20). And because we are continually pointed by Scripture to God’s goodness as the basis of knowledge and wisdom; of obedience and faithfulness; of gratitude and grace — because of this, God’s Law is more precious to us than any material possession we could ever own.

Applications 

65. Have I fully submitted every area of my life and will and heart to God? Am I seeking out God’s Word and willingly making changes in my heart and life according to His Word?

66. Do I truly believe God’s promises for me? Am I seeking knowledge and wisdom of myself to justify my belief … or do I believe first and therefore, am growing in knowledge and wisdom of God?

67. Am I regularly confessing sin so I am able to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and obedient to His leading?

68. Am I trying to figure out God’s good will on my own or by studying and learning God’s own Word?

69. In what areas of my heart am I harboring an arrogant heart by refusing to submit that part of my life to God’s Word? How do I respond when others who reject God’s Word come against me? What will be my answer? Will I turn to myself or turn to Scripture?

70. Is my delight in God’s Word or in pleasing other people?

71. Am I able to be thankful, not just in times of affliction, but for the affliction when it comes against me because it drives me deeper into Scripture and closer to Jesus?

72. What evidence is there in my life that Scripture is more precious to me than anything else? If there is no evidence — or little evidence — what do I need to do to change that?

Prayer

O Lord, thank you for Your Goodness. And thank you for showing me your good nature in Scripture. Thank you that your GOOD plan is that I pursue YOU and then I grow in knowledge, wisdom, obedience, faithfulness, gratitude and grace — rather than trying to achieve those things on my own in an effort to find You.

God, You are good. And You do good things.

Please help me to keep a heart that is sensitive to sin and arrogance, that I might always find my delight in Your Word.

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