Enjoyment of Divine Goodness!
William Nicholson, 1862
"O taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who trusts in him." Psalm 34:8
The attributes of God are worthy of the highest contemplation. To the true Christian they are full of interest and delight. "My meditation of him shall be sweet." But to guilty man, they have no interest, but frequently fill him with terror.
God's eternity and immensity amaze our thoughts! His infinite knowledge and wisdom, omnipotence, universal dominion, inflexible justice, however worthy of the highest praise — appear overwhelming rather than delightful. Infinite purity, with all its loveliness, is of too bright a glory for sinners to contemplate with joy.
But that which represents God under the idea of an amiable as well as a glorious Being, as a Father as well as a Sovereign — is the attribute of Divine goodness.
In this Psalm, David instances the Divine goodness, and, in the text, invites others to partake of its richness.
I. A Cheering Truth."The Lord is good!"
Goodness is an essential property of the Divine nature, and is manifest in the provision God has made for conferring happiness on the creatures he has made. He himself claims this attribute, "Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed: The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth!" Exodus 34:6. "They shall utter abundantly the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of your righteousness." Goodness belongs only to God; he is alone good, Matthew 19:17. All the goodness found in creatures, is only an emanation of the Divine goodness. He is the chief good — the sum and substance of all felicity.
This attribute has different designations, according to the different objects on which it terminates.
When it confers happiness without merit — it is called grace.
When it commiserates the wretched and makes them happy, it is called mercy.
When it defends the innocent, it is called righteousness.
When it delays to punish sinners, it is called patience and long-suffering.
When it pardons the guilty, it is called forgiveness.
When it bestows blessings according to promise, it is called truth.
1. The Manifestations of God's goodness:
(1.) In the work of CREATION; wherein are revealed God's variety, beauty, order, abundance, etc.
(2.) In MAN. In him we have our being. He made us, and not we ourselves. To occupy a very humble place in the scale of being is honorable; but to have a place among God's rational subjects, who are animated with immortal natures, and enriched with faculties susceptible of the most extraordinary enlargement — is an unspeakable honor.
(3.) In the arrangements of his PROVIDENCE. He amply provides for the needs of his large family. "You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing." Psalm 145:16.
He is called "the Preserver of men," Job 7:20. He gives the means of preservation — food, clothing, materials for habitations. Health, without which, all the objects of time lose their charms — health, for which men extensively travel, and expend untold treasures.
God is, "The Preserver of men!" Without the blessing of God, the means of preservation would be useless; for human life is like a bubble floating upon the stream, ready to burst — or, as a spark hovering above the waves of the sea, ready every moment to be extinguished.
He . . .
protects from danger — from enemies;
restrains men's unruly passions;
produces good out of evil; and
daily loads us with benefits.
(4.) In the work of REDEMPTION. He commiserated the state of the guilty. He commissioned his only begotten Son to come into this world as the Savior of sinners.
From riches, Christ stooped to poverty;
from happiness, Christ stooped to the curse;
from glory, Christ stooped to shame;
from the throne, Christ stooped to the cross.
The dearest and sweetest of all his enjoyments, was his Father's smile; yet, to the power of his anger, he gave up his life — his soul. He gave not the armies of Heaven, nor the riches of the universe — but himself for us.
How numerous are the blessings which divine goodness bestows from the cross!
Pardon, to the chief of sinners;
adoption, to the children of wrath;
liberty, to the captives;
wisdom, to the foolish;
healing, to wounded hearts; and
holy beauties, to the deformed and the leprous.
What are the gifts he bestows — but the liberality of his goodness?
What are the consolations he imparts — but the sympathy of goodness?
What is the protection he affords — but the shield of his goodness?
What is the watchfulness which he exercises — but the care of goodness?
What are the checks by which he stops us in the career of folly — but the restraints of goodness?
What is the glory he is preparing — but the crown of goodness?
2. The Character of the Divine Goodness.
(1.) God's goodness is perfectly free and gratuitous. No one has deserved it. "He freely gives us all things."
(2.) God's goodness is rich and abundant. Look abroad through creation — observe his bounty in temporal things — think of spiritual blessings, privileges, promises, and the glory reserved in Heaven. How rich and abundant! "How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God!"
(3.) God's goodness is special. He loves all his creatures, but especially those who believe. They are . . .
They are the objects of his special care.
He gives them his Spirit.
He comforts them in holy communion.
He grants them the joys of his salvation.
He watches over them in every scene — to guard and preserve them.
Sublime is their future destiny in eternity; and, as he loves them, he will save and prepare them for it.
(4.) God's goodness is immutable and everlasting. How unchangeable are the seasons! Seed-time, spring, summer, and winter. The time of harvest, the early and the latter rain, etc. And all spiritual blessings are unchangeable! "Your mercy, O God, is from everlasting to everlasting."
Our goodness is often as the morning cloud and as the early dew — but the goodness of our Lord endures forever, unexhausted in its stores, and unwearied in working.
This earth, which is so full of his mercy, shall pass away.
Time, whose rolling tide spreads its bounties from day to day, shall sink into eternity!
But the Savior's goodness shall fill a nobler sphere with blessings suited to a state of perfection, by a stream ever flowing and ever full.
II. A Hearty Invitation."O taste and see that the Lord is good!"
1. It is the language of experience. "O taste and see!"
I have tasted the goodness of God from my youth up. He raised me from obscurity, to become a king. He preserved my life from . . .
the furious Saul,
the traitorous Absalom, and
from treacherous courtiers —
and made his goodness to pass before me. He has forgiven my flagrant crimes, and restored to me the joys of his salvation. He has made with me an everlasting covenant, etc., etc.
2. It is an invitation prompted by love. I have tasted, and I want others to taste — that I may rejoice at their happiness, which will conduce to the glory of God.
You young, taste the Divine goodness!
You men of secular care and toil, see the spring of your prosperity, etc.
You aged, drop not into the grave without tasting that the Lord is good.
In the best of blessings — infinite good — the Christian is no monopolist. Were you to find on earth a precious jewel, a diamond, a pearl, or a lump of gold — how anxious would you be to conceal it for the purpose of monopoly! But where a man really finds and tastes of Christ, that Pearl of great Price — he immediately calls to others, "O taste and see that the Lord is good!"
3. It is an invitation to participate.
Many people are the subjects of the Divine goodness, but they do not enjoy it, they do not properly taste it. They are daily loaded with Divine favors — their table is fully spread — their business prospers, etc., but they do not acknowledge the hand of God.
But sweet is the participation of the Christian.
It is my Father's bounty that feeds me.
It is my Father's hand that upholds and guides me.
It is my Father's Spirit and grace that comfort me and inspire me with hope.
All that I am, have, and hope to be — comes from him. I taste it — I enjoy it!
How much the hardened sinner resembles the brute of the field, constantly partaking of the Divine bounty, but never acknowledging obligation to the God of love.
(1.) To taste it, or properly to participate — requires Divine enlightenment and renovation of heart. This will reveal to us the character of God. His love to us in creation, providence, and grace — causes us to feel our need of the Divine goodness, and gives us a desire and a relish for it.
(2.) A deep sense of our unworthiness, and of our entire dependence upon God.
(3.) As it regards spiritual blessings, there can be no participation without faith. See the representation of Christ. John 6:51, 54-57. To taste and see, is the experience of faith. 1 Peter 2:1-3.
(4.) There are appointed times and places for tasting the Divine goodness. Go to his house, ordinances, word, throne, prayer, converse of friends, etc.
III. An Invaluable Blessing."Blessed is the man who trust in him!"
The person who is blessed, is one who "trusts in him." That is, a child of God, who constantly depends on him for life and salvation.
Experience of past goodness, induces trust for the future.
The consequence is good; all that good he desired — he enjoys.
Such a man has peace — inward satisfaction — calmness in the midst of trouble — resignation, hope, etc., etc.
Thus is he blessed now, already blessed.
He shall be blessed at death.
He shall be blessed for evermore.
1. Admire the goodness of God.
2. Praise him, and beware of ingratitude.
3. Call others to partake of it.