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Wilhelmus a’ Brakel on the Goodness of God

April 9, 2008

The Goodness of God

Goodness is the very opposite of harshness, cruelty, gruffness, severity, mercilessness–all of which are far removed from God. How unbecoming it is to have such thoughts about God! Such sinful emotions are found in man. The goodness of God, on the contrary, is the loveliness, benign character, sweetness, friendliness, kindness, and generosity of God. Goodness is the very essence of God’s being, even if there were no creature to whom this could be manifested. “The good LORD pardon every one” (2 Chr.30:18); “Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will He teach sinners in the way” (Psa. 25:B); “There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mat. 19:17).

From this goodness issues forth lovingkindness and an inclination to bless His creatures. This is to the astonishment of all who take note of this, which explains why David exclaims twenty-six times in Ps. 136, “For His Mercy endureth for ever.” In the following texts we read likewise. “Also unto Thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy” (Psa. 62:12); “All the paths of the LORD are mercy” (Psa. 25:l0). From goodness and benevolence issues forth the doing of that which is good. “Thou art good, and doest good” (Psa. 119:68); “Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: and attend unto the voice of my supplications. For Thou Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee” (Psa. 86:4, 6, 5).

This goodness is of a general nature in reference to all God’s creatures, since they are His creatures. “The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all is works” (Psa. 145:9); “The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Psa. 33:5); “For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat. 5:45). The goodness which is of a special or particular nature as it relates to God’s children is thus expressed: ‘Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as arc of a clean heart” (Psa. 73:l); “The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him” (Lam. 3:25). This goodness of God is the reason why a believer, even after many backslidings, is motivated by renewal to return unto the Lord. “The children of Israel shall return… and shall fear the LORD and His goodness” (Hosea 3:5); “But I have trusted in Thy mercy” (Psa. 13:5). This is why they call the Lord “the God of my mercy” (Psa. 59:10, 17). In this goodness they rejoice and this goodness they magnify. “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever” (Psa. 89:l); “Praise ye the LORD. 0 give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever” (Psa. 106:l).

Wilhemus a’ Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, trans., by Bartel Elshout, (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publ., 1992) 1:122-123.

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