You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
Psalm 119:68 ESV
This is a marvelous verse and a mighty confession for all of God’s people to make alongside the psalmist. First, he confesses a deep truth regarding God’s nature: God is good. As with all of God’s attributes, we must take care not to think simply that God possesses goodness, as if goodness were an ethereal force outside of God Himself. Instead, God is good. The source and standard of goodness are found within His very nature. He does not merely meet the specifications of what it means to be good; He is good. Everything else is judged to be good based upon His person and evaluation.
Second, God does good. We often remember God’s passing by Moses in Exodus 34 as the revealing of His glory to the prophet, and so it was. Yet it was also the revealing of God’s goodness, for God told Moses “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name” (Exodus 33:19). Thus, whenever the LORD passed by Moses and declared His name and His nature, He was making His goodness known.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”Exodus 34:6–7
This is a declaration that from God’s goodness flows His good works. He is both merciful and gracious toward sinful humanity, withholding the judgment that we rightly deserve and giving us blessings that we have no right to possess. He is slow to anger, granting opportunity after opportunity for repentance. Indeed, out of His overflowing steadfast love and faithfulness, He is ready to forgive sin, while still remaining the righteous Judge of all the earth who will ensure that perfect justice is always enacted. Of course, God’s goodness is perfectly displayed in His Son, Jesus. In Christ, we who were once dead in our sin have been made alive by His grace through faith. We who rebelled against God’s goodness have been redeemed by God’s overflowing goodness through Christ.
The prayer of the psalmist, therefore, ought to also be ours: teach me your statutes. How could we not long to know more of our God’s good Word, especially when it is through His Scriptures that we come to know Him? Indeed, being captivated by God’s goodness will never fail to drive us ever deeper into His Word, for in them we are able to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8)!