“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. . . . Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:1, 8-9 NKJV).
Among the innumerable attributes of God, one of the most emphasized in Scripture is his goodness. This is made evident from the beginning of creation. As God made the various parts of the universe we are repeatedly told, “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25; see also verse 4). Finally after all was done, “Then God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Goodness is often measured by its effect or results. Webster defines it as “of a favorable character or tendency” then further describes its qualities with positive illustrations. These include “bountiful, fertile” as pertaining to land; “handsome, attractive” with respect to looks; “wholesome” regarding healthiness; and various others.
A fairly comprehensive definition of good or goodness might be, “that which is beneficial in its results.” Anything that produces health, security, prosperity, and peace is considered good. That which threatens any of these is bad or evil.
Biblically, goodness is largely synonymous with righteousness, justice, uprightness and truth, all of which are attributes of God (Deuteronomy 32:4). To the Psalmist God’s goodness is evidenced by his works or gifts to mankind, which stand as evidence of his benevolent disposition (Psalm 107:1-9).
The primary motivation for righteous living is that one who follows God should seek to be like God. Therefore God’s people were commanded, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). This principle is continued in the New Testament through the commandment of Jesus, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:48).
Peter quoted from Psalm 34 when he taught:
“He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12).
Just as God’s goodness is demonstrated or proven by the beneficial things he has done for mankind, so human goodness is measured by how we treat others, how we speak of them, and by our relationship with our creator. The young preacher, Titus, was told to remind his hearers “to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1). Christians are to be known for their good works (Matthew 5:16) which qualify as acceptable sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:16).