Thursday, August 7, 2014

Psalm 145:13-16--The Providential Goodness of God

Psalm 145:13b–16

13b   [The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
14    The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15    The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16    You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Bible words are great.  Big Bible words are even better (especially if you use the Latin version of them!)  While it is not Latin, and it is not really that big letters-wise, the word “providence” is as big as they come conceptually.

“Providence” is God's goodness in action.  It is a word that reflects what the psalmist is praising God for in verses 13-16.  It is a word that describes God’s goodness towards all that is his, which is everything.  And it is a truth that warrants praise from all that has breath-- and even that which doesn’t!(Psalm 19:1; Luke 19:40)  God provides for all of his creation because he wants to.  He wants to because he is good.
God’s knowledge, wisdom, and power are inseparable from his goodness. In fact, in the strict sense, Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone” (Mk 10:18). God’s infinite goodness is the source of all creaturely imitations. Precisely because God does not depend on the world, his goodness is never threatened. God is good toward all he has made, even his enemies (Ps 145:9, 15–16; Mt 5:45). He can afford to be, because he is God with or without them.
Because God’s attributes are identical with his essence, God not only loves; he is love (1 Jn 3:1; 4:8, 16). God loves absolutely and without any compulsion from the object of his love (Mt 5:44–45; Jn 3:16; 16:27; Ro 5:8). God takes delight in that which he does not need but nevertheless desires. Here, too, we must see that human love is not the measure of divine love, but vice versa. God is the original; we are the copy: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).[1]

Our God is not an absentee-father.  He is not a “blind watchmaker”.  He is a Being of transcendent power and immanent affection for that which he has made.  He is a Being of utter goodness who’s “eye is on the sparrow”(Matt 10:29), who knows the numbers of hairs on your head(Luke 12:7), and causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the wicked and the righteous(Matthew 5:45).  Nothing is so big as to exceed his ability and nothing is so small as to elude his perfect gaze.  This should give us surpassing confidence in the face of even life’s greatest storms.

How does God demonstrate his faithfulness? He does it by keeping his promises and by caring for his creation (v. 13). When we fall, he lifts us up (v. 14). When we are bowed down by distress, he restores us (v. 14). When we are hungry, he provides food (v. 15). When we look to him with our hands open, empty and held out, he satisfies us with good things (v. 16).[2]
He is the source of all good things. "For from him and through him and to him are all things." (Rom 11:36) All blessings flow from this great Source.  Our God is our King and our provider.  His providential goodness extends to all of creation and is expressed most clearly in the lives of those whom he purchased with the blood of his only Begotten.  This truth, and its proper response, is expressed succinctly and powerfully in the Doxology.
            Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

[1] Horton, M. (2011). The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (p. 265). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary (p. 1254). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.