The Attributes of God
by Arthur W. Pink
The Goodness of God
"The goodness of God endures continually" (Psalm 52:1).
The goodness of God refers to the perfection of His nature: "God is light,
and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute
perfection in God's nature and being that nothing is lacking to it or
defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better.
"He is originally good, good of Himself, which
nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and
communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but
goodness itself: the creature's good is a superadded quality, in God it is
His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature's good is but a
drop, but in God there in an infinite ocean or gathering together of good.
He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good
than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from
Him" (Thomas Manton).
God is summum bonum—the highest good.
The original Saxon meaning of our English word God
is "The Good." God is not only the greatest of all beings, but the best. All
the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator,
but God's goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal
nature. As God is infinite in power from all eternity, before there was any
display thereof, or any act of omnipotence put forth, so He was eternally
good before there was any communication of His bounty, or any creature to
whom it might be imparted. Thus, the first manifestation of this divine
perfection was in giving being to all things. "You are good, and do good"
(Psalm 119:68). God has in Himself an infinite and inexhaustible treasure of
all blessedness, enough to fill all things.
All that emanates from God—His decrees, His creation, His
laws, His providences—cannot be otherwise than good: as it is written, "And
God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen
1:31). Thus, the goodness of God is seen, first, in creation. The
more closely the creature is studied, the more the beneficence of its
Creator becomes apparent. Take the highest of God's earthly creatures—man.
Abundant reason has he to say with the Psalmist, "I will praise You, for I
am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Your works; and that my
soul knows right well" (139:14). Everything about the structure of our
bodies attest to the goodness of their Maker. How suited the hands to
perform their allotted work! How good of the Lord to appoint sleep to
refresh the wearied body! How benevolent His provision to give to the eyes
lids and brows for their protection! And so we might continue indefinitely.
Nor is the goodness of the Creator confined to man; it is
exercised toward all His creatures. "The eyes of all wait upon You; and You
give them their food in due season. You open Your hand, and satisfy the
desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:15,16). Whole volumes might be
written, yes have been, to amplify this fact. Whether it be the birds of the
air, the beasts of the forest, or the fish in the sea—abundant provision has
been made to supply their every need. God "gives food to all flesh, for His
mercy endures forever" (Psalm 136:25). Truly, "The earth is full of the
goodness of the Lord" (Psalm 33:5).
The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural
pleasures which He has provided for His creatures. God might have been
pleased to satisfy our hunger without the food being pleasing to our
palates—how His benevolence appears in the varied flavors which He has given
to meats, vegetables, and fruits! God has not only given us senses, but also
that which gratifies them; and this too reveals His goodness. The earth
might have been as fertile as it is without its surface being so
delightfully variegated. Our physical lives could have been sustained
without beautiful flowers to regale our eyes with their colors, and our
nostrils with their sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields without
our ears being saluted by the music the birds. Whence, then, this
loveliness, this charm, so freely diffused over the face of nature? Truly,
"The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation"
The goodness of God is seen in that when man transgressed
the law of His Creator a dispensation of unmixed wrath did not at once
commence. Well might God have deprived His fallen creatures of every
blessing, every comfort, every pleasure. Instead, He ushered in a regime of
a mixed nature—of mercy and judgment. This is very wonderful if it be duly
considered, and the more thoroughly that regime be expanded the more will it
appear that "mercy rejoices over judgment" (James 2:13). Notwithstanding all
the evils which attend our fallen state, the balance of good greatly
preponderates. With comparatively rare exceptions, men and women experience
a far greater number of days of health than they do of sickness and pain.
There is much more creature-happiness than creature-misery in the world.
Even our sorrows admit of considerable alleviation, and God has given to the
human mind a pliability which adapts itself to circumstances and makes the
most of them.
Nor can the benevolence of God be justly called into
question because there is suffering and sorrow in the world. If man sins
against the goodness of God, if he despises "the riches of His goodness and
forbearance and longsuffering, and after the hardness and impenitency of his
heart treasures up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath" (Rom 2:4,5),
who is to blame but himself? Would God be "good" if He did not punish those
who ill-use His blessings, abuse His benevolence, and trample His mercies
beneath their feet? It will be no reflection upon God's goodness, but rather
the brightest exemplification of it, when He shall rid the earth of those
who have broken His laws, defied His authority, mocked His messengers,
scorned His Son, and persecuted those for whom He died.
The goodness of God appeared most illustriously when He
sent forth His Son "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those who
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal 4:4,5).
Then it was that a multitude of the heavenly angels praised their Maker and
said, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom
God favors" (Luke 2:14). Yes, in the Gospel the "grace [which word in Greek
conveys the idea if benevolence or goodness] of God that brings salvation
has appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11). Nor can God's benignity be called
into question because He has not made every sinful creature to be a subject
of His redemptive grace. He did not bestow it upon the fallen angels. Had
God left all to perish it would have been no reflection on His goodness. To
any who would challenge this statement we will remind him of our Lord's
sovereign prerogative: "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with My
own? Is your eye evil, because I am good?" (Matt 20,15).
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and
for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:8). Gratitude is
the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence, yet is it
often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so
constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised
toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily
experience it. "Do you despise the riches of His goodness?" (Rom 2:4). His
goodness is "despised" when it is not improved as a means to lead men to
repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them from the supposition
that God entirely overlooks their sin.
The goodness of God is the life of the believer's trust.
It is this excellency in God which most appeals to our hearts. Because His
goodness endures forever, we ought never to be discouraged: "The Lord is
good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in
Him" (Nahum 1:7).
"When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us
up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good; and
when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should
only the more reverently bless Him that He is good. We must never tolerate
an instant's unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be
questioned, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; His
dispensations may vary—but His nature is always the same" (C. H. Spurgeon).