Goodness is a word often associated with God. When Chris Tomlin came out with the song “Good, Good, Father,” it became an overnight favorite and still is. Yet, when we see all that is happening His world today, there are questions about His goodness.
I know this is a longer post, but I encourage you to read it through. There are nuggets at the end in particular, that are critical for our day.
The first time that goodness is connected with God in the Bible is after Moses told his father-in-law about how God delivered Israel from Egypt. It says in Exodus 18:9 “Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness (Strong’s #2895) which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians.“
Later when Moses asked Abba to show him His glory (Exodus 33:19) God told him: “I will make all My goodness (Strong’s #2898 – from the root #2895) pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
In Exodus 34:6-7 — And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness (Strong’s #2617 from #2616) and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
As you can see, there are four Strong’s numbers but only two roots here, all pointing to God’s goodness.
Let’s look at this word and see what we can discover.
The first one is Strong’s #2898 from #2895- ṭôwb, tobe; a primitive root, to be (transitively, do or make) good (or well) in the widest sense:—be (do) better, cheer, be (do, seem) good, (make) goodly, × please, (be, do, go, play) well
#2895 looks like this: When we look at the individual letters from right to left we find:
Tet 9 = Judgment. Means: Choice, Basket, Snake, Surround or Twist
Vav 6 = Man. Means: Nail or Hook, to Secure, Pin together, Connect -Yeshua
Bet 2 = Divide or Division Means: House/Family; God’s word, God’s dwelling place (Temple)
The Goodness of God reveals He made a Choice and brought to Man a Nail—Yeshua, to connect Man to God’s family, His house
Psalm 34:8 says – O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Alright, let’s look at the other root, Strong’s #2617 from the root Strong’s #2616.
#2616 is châçad, khaw-sad’; a primitive root properly, perhaps to bow (the neck only in courtesy to an equal), i.e. to be kind; also—shew self merciful, put to shame.
The root, Strong’s #2616, looks like this: When we look at the individual letters from right to left we find:
Chet 8 = New Beginnings. Means: Fence, Gate, or Tent wall – Separate, Protect, Cut Off
Samekh 60 = Pride, Conceit, Earthly. Picture: A Tree propped up by a piece of wood. Means: To Lean Upon, a Prop or Aid, Hold, Assist or Support – the heart of God
Dallet 4 = Earth or creation. Means: Door, Gate, Impoverished man
The Goodness of the LORD is constantly offering us a New Beginning, a place of safety within His Fence–His Word, to be Protected. It is His Heart to help us and Support us and His Door is always open.
Both Psalm 118 and Psalm 136 begin with — “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good (2798)! For His mercy (2617) endures forever.” That last phrase, “His mercy endures forever,” is repeated in all 28 verses of Psalm 136. That psalm is often sung at the end of the Passover Supper today, and may, in fact, be the one the disciples sang together with Jesus at the end of the Passover meal–Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26
From Matthew 26:29-30: But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
If you would like to get a deeper understanding of the repetition in Psalm 136, here is a great commentary by Matthew Henry on Psalm 136.
Okay, let’s review Exodus 34:5-7, “Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Goodness and Mercy, in these verses, have the same root word (#2617 from #2616)
But in this verse, they have two different roots for the word goodness.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness(#2896 from #2895)and mercy(#2617 from #2616) shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I’ve heard it said, “Grace gives us what we don’t deserve and Mercy holds back what we do deserve.” I believe you will agree with me that David could have easily substituted grace for goodness in Psalm 23.
Our God is good. The cross was the greatest good the world will ever receive, but to Yeshua’s followers, it did not appear good.
In Matthew 26, after the Passover Supper, Yeshua took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. While He was there this transpired:
47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. Matthew 26:47-50
Yeshua, called Judas His friend. Judas was the betrayer, but it was the kiss of Judas that moved Yeshua propelled Him into His destiny.
Earlier, this exchange took place:
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:21-23
Peter’s love and care looked ‘good.’ And Judas’s actions looked ‘bad.’ Had Yeshua followed Peter’s counsel, His destiny would have been set aside. But Yeshua knew His purpose and chose not to honor Peter’s words. He called Judas His friend and He called Pete, Satan.
God is Good. But what we call or see as good is not always the way He chooses to act. Still, just as we’ve Focused on His Light and Life as Creator, His Holiness, His Truth, His Works, and His Supreme Uniqueness, we must also realize that His Goodness never changes. All that He does is Good. All that He is comes from the fact that He is Love. The very thing we may be proclaiming as evil may be what He is permitting to bring about the Good things He’s prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
If you remember Joseph’s story, you can see that his brother’s attempt to get rid of him led him to prison for almost 14 yearsbut it propelled him into his true destiny. When he was reunited with his brothers, he told them, But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20-21
This week let’s focus on the fact that God is Good and His Mercy is beyond measure. Let’s ask Him for greater understanding so we can partner with Him for His purposes and not find ourselves trying to convince Him to change His ways like Peter did. I will be asking too. None of us has it all figured out. But one thing for sure we can proclaim, “God is Good and His Mercy endures forever.”