This meditation was written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and published in the very first issue of the Standard Bearer, dated October 1924.
The Lord is good to all…but all the wicked will he destroy. Ps. 145:9a, 20b
Emphatically, according to the Hebrew original, the poet, who is the inspired author of this psalm, puts it: “Good is Jehovah.”
The Lord is goodness essentially.
Apart from any relation to his creatures, conceived all by himself, in himself, for himself, as the absolutely self-existent, self-sufficient, independent one, the Lord is good. His essence is goodness, his eternally adorable divine being is only good. Could we enter into the amazing profundity and explore the fathomless depths of his infinite being, the deepest depths of the incomprehensible divine essence would reveal nothing but goodness.
He is the light and there is no darkness in him. He is truth, righteousness, holiness, purity, love, grace, mercy and eternal life, and there is no lie, unrighteousness, defilement, corruption and death in him.
He is Summum Bonum, the highest good, not in a mere superlative sense, not in a sense that would compare him with other goods or goodnesses, that might perhaps be conceived as existing next to him though in a far inferior degree; but in the sense that he is the sole good, that there is no good apart from him or without him. He is the ultimate and absolute criterion of all good. He is not good in the sense that he answers to a certain standard of goodness that might be applied to him, but himself is the only standard of all that is called good.
He is good because he is God.
Very perfection in all his adorable virtues. Good is Jehovah!
The Lord is good!
And because the very being of his adorable godhead is goodness, the divine nature in all the glorious attributes thereof is purest perfection and immaculate goodness. Neither is there any reason of want in God why he should need an object unto which to reveal and upon which to lavish his goodness. For as the triune God he lives from everlasting to everlasting the perfect life of Infinite goodness in and thru himself. Never there arises from the unfathomable depths of his perfect essence the slightest thought that is not good, perfect, true. Never the faintest thrill of imperfection there is in the will of Jehovah. Never the most imperceptible discord there is in his divine feeling. Never there is the tiniest ripple of evil on the stream of life flowing from his divine heart.
No shadow of darkness ever bedims the light of life, perfect and infinite, of the divine family. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, each eternally subsisting in the unchangeable essence of limitless goodness, thinking in the perfect mind, willing with the perfect will are living in absolute self-sufficiency an uninterrupted divine life of purest goodness, dwelling in a light that is never in any wise bedimmed.
Yea, good is Jehovah!
Everlastingly, solely, unchangeably good!
Because the Lord is good, the absolute good in himself he is also good to all his creatures.
Good is Jehovah to all!
He is the overflowing fount of all good.
All the good his creatures ever receive is solely from him and is only good because he is good, assumes an attitude of goodness to them. He is full of richest benevolence which he lavishes in profuse abundance upon all the wide creation. His goodness profuses the silvery luster throughout the starry heavens and arranges their marvelous harmony night upon night. His goodness decks the sun with that glorious attire of wondrous gold, day after day. His goodness adorns the lily of the field with purest beauty such as Solomon never possessed and clothes the royal cedars of Lebanon with strength and majesty. His goodness causes the royal eagle to renew its strength as it sweeps the firmament with powerful wing; and fills the mouth of the young raven crying to him for food. His goodness remembers the roaring lion and the chirping sparrow on the housetop. His goodness clothes the meadows in velvety green and covers the fields with golden grain. His goodness made man a little lower than the angels, adds keenness to his mind and strength to his arm and fills his heart with gladness.
Surely, all the works of his hand speak of his goodness.
Good is Jehovah to all!
Nor is this the last word that is to be said about the goodness of Jehovah.
It may be the last in the estimation of a natural religion, that knows of no sin and speaks of no grace.
It might be the last word had paradise not been lost. There in the midst of that Edenic virgin beauty of creation, in that original state of unmarred perfection, where sin had not dropped her stain and misery had not left her scar and the groan of the sufferer was not heard,—there God’s goodness displayed itself simply as goodness, overflowing riches of benevolence, poured upon every creature according to the measure of its capacity.
The single light-beam of God’s goodness had not resolved itself into the many-colored rays of his grace, tender mercy and loving kindness in contrast with his holy wrath and faultless justice.
But sin entered. And in the wake of sin came death. And with death followed suffering in all its awful forms, agony of soul and body, pain, sorrow, grief, fear. And the curse of God was pronounced upon the creature and subjected it to vanity; the chilling breath of a good God, maintaining himself in his goodness over against a sinful world, caused the w-hole creation to groan and travail together in pain. And even thus the creature made subject to vanity and man in his guilt bending under the cruel scourge of suffering and death are testimonies that the Lord is good and that there is no evil in him.
But more must be said.
Suffering creation, sin and guilt and misery and death and all the thick darkness from hell only became the occasion for God to manifest his goodness more abundantly. Darkness was employed by him as a prism thru which to resolve the pure white beam of his goodness into wonderful rays of manifold perfection. First of all there is, on occasion of sin and suffering, the beautiful and rich manifestation of God’s wonderful mercy and lovingkindness. His tender mercies are over all his works. Radiating from the cross of God’s beloved Son this tender mercy beams its warm glory first of all upon his chosen people whom he loved with love everlasting, with a love that is always first. Upon them he lavishes his tender mercy in the blood pouring from the heart of his only begotten, and in these streams of mercy he cleanses them from guilt, heals them from sin, redeems them from the power of death, comforts them forever for their misery and makes them heirs of a glory unspeakable, of a life incomparably richer, fuller, deeper than ever first paradise knew. They taste his lovingkindness and tender mercy, speak of it and sing of it, showing forth the praises of him that called them from darkness into his marvelous light. But even as the awful darkness of sin and misery spread from the first Adam till it enshrouded an entire groaning creation in its horrors, so the glad light of redemption radiates from the second Adam, falls first upon the elect, thence to spread again over the whole creation. Remembering his groaning creature with bowels of mercy and compassion, the Lord stretches the rainbow of an everlasting covenant over all. His tender mercies are over all his works.
The creature is made subject to vanity. It is subject to the yoke of bondage. It is travailing in pain together until now….
But in hope!
The whole creation shall be liberated from the bondage of corruption and be made to partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God!
Bowels of mercy!
The Lord is good to all!! His tender mercy is over all his works!
Good is Jehovah.
But all the wicked will he destroy.
Seemingly there is irreconcilable conflict here. The Lord is good and yet he destroys. Many a sinful mind will not have it so. Many would dream of a goodness without righteousness, of a grace without justice, of a benevolence without holy wrath. And yet, upon closer investigation this apparent conflict disappears, dissolves itself into most sublime harmony. He will destroy all the wicked because he is good. The destruction of the wicked, God’s wrath upon them is but another aspect of his perfect goodness.
The wicked are the vessels of wrath, fitted unto destruction. They are those that love iniquity and righteousness. God is not in all their thoughts. They say within their hearts, they express it in their words, they reveal it in their ways,—that there is no God. They are God’s enemies and children of their father the devil. They dwell in darkness and love it. They crucify Christ and persecute his people. They make the measure of their iniquity full.
So are all the wicked.
But the Lord is good. And because he is good and there is no evil in him, because he is a light and there is no darkness in him, therefore, his soul loves the righteous and loatheth the wicked, his face beams with tender mercy upon those that love him, but burns with fierce wrath upon them that love iniquity; he preserves the righteous but destroys all the wicked.
The Lord is good. Therefore there are in him bowels of mercy and consuming fires of holy wrath!