Bread – Good

January 29, 2016


Psalm 4

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good?  Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord!’

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Ps. 4:6-8

When I first read this, I misread it.  I thought that the many said “Who will show us some good?” and it was the Psalmist, David, who answered “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord!”

But that is an incorrect reading because it is the many who say both the question and the response?

But is the response the answer.  In order for us to see good, must the Lord lift up the light of His face upon us?  What if He doesn’t, for the moment.  Can we not see good?

I guess it depends upon your definition of “good.”  It turns out that “good” is one of those words, like “truth.”  We can think of it as an absolute term … there is truth and there is not; there is good and there is not.  Or we can think about it in relative terms, where the meaning shifts depending upon us.  What is truth (to us)?  What is good (to us)?

I think the answer to the “truth” question is easier, in one sense, because we have a sense that “truth” is an absolute, that there is God’s truth, which is absolute, and then our truths, which can vary depending upon our mood of the day.  But we are not so sure about “good.”  Is there an absolute “good” or is “good” just a situation where one thing is “better” than another and, therefore, “good?”

Normally, when I have these questions and I turn to God’s Word for answers, I look up the Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic) definitions.  In this case, the Hebrew word for “good” doesn’t necessarily help.  “Good” as used in this Psalm is actually an adjective and not a noun, suggesting the phrase “some good” has a blank after it, to be filled in…”Who will show us some good [things, ideas, life, food, etc.].  And the meaning is pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, convenient, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, kind, correct, righteous, virtue, happiness, practical or economic benefits, wisdom, and moral good.

So perhaps the idea of “good” is fundamentally an idea about which gives us the greater benefit.

And so the rest of the Psalm really begins to take on meaning because David essentially is telling the many who question, “Yes, you have it right!  If you want to see some good [things] come into your life, ask the Lord.”

I say that because David immediately tells the Lord that He is the One who has put more joy (benefit, happiness, good) into his heart than anybody else has even when their “grain and wine abound.”  Even when the world lavishes us out of its bounty with good things, the pleasant, beautiful, excellent, and lovely things it can give us, these pale in comparison to the joy (good, pleasant, beautiful, excellent) things which God gives us.

And what is the best good of all?  David hints at it in the last verse where he says “For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”   We may have riches, friends, power, position, plenty to eat … everything the modern world offers and then some.  And is that as good as the sense of safety, of peace, of love, of rest.  When we have a good night’s sleep, don’t we (generally) feel good the next day?  When we dwell in safety, aren’t we really the happiest.

Where do you look for your good?  Is to yourself, your friends, your job, your family, your business?  Or do you look to God?  Are you one of the many who ask the Lord to “lift up the light of His countenance upon them” or one of the many who don’t?

As I end this, I am reminded that in asking these questions, I find myself in the role of the early disciples, who asked Jesus “what good deed must I do?” And Jesus answered, “Why do you ask Me what is good?  There is only One who is good.  If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”  Matt. 19:16-17

David is saying the same thing.  When we have a question about good, there is one place to look and we will experience the rest which comes from knowing good, from knowing Him who created good, from the One who defines good, and from the only One, Jesus Christ, capable of giving the good sacrifice which guarantees us the true good, that we can lie down and sleep “for You, O Lord, make me dwell in safety”  … for all eternity

Do you want to see the good, experience the good, rest in true safety?  “Offer right sacrifices [the obedience of the heart to Jesus Christ and His commands], and put your trust in the Lord.” Ps. 4:5  And watch the good abound in your life and in the lives of those you touch.

__________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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