Comprehending God’s Goodness

from Aug 08, 2009 Category: Articles

As a child, the first prayer I ever learned was a simple table grace. It went like this: “God is great, God is good. And we thank Him for this food.” At the time, I did not realize that a single biblical word captured the twin ideas of God’s greatness and His goodness. The single word is holy.

The earliest traceable form of the Semitic root of the word holy, reaching to a Canaanite source, carried the meaning “to divide.” Anything that was holy was divided or separated from all other things. This meaning pointed to the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the common and uncommon, the average and the great.

In religious terms, the word holy divides God from all other things to put Him in a category that is sui generis (in a class by Himself). The Holy One is the One who possesses the supreme perfection of being. He transcends or is divided from all things creaturely. He is the most majestic, most exalted, most awe-provoking being. Since He is both marvelous and wonderful in His very essence, the creature—when contemplating the Holy God—responds in marvel and wonder because of His greatness.

Coram Deo: Take time in prayer today to thank God specifically for His goodness to you.

Psalm 31:19: “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!”

Psalm 86:10: “For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God.”

Psalm 92:5: “O Lord, how great are Your works!”