The blessed effects of chastisement, as a special instance of the Lord's goodness, might naturally lead to a general acknowledgment of the goodness of His character and dispensation. Judging in unbelieving haste, of His providential and gracious dealings, feeble sense imagines a frown, when the eye of faith discerns a smile, upon His face; and therefore in proportion as faith is exercised in the review of the past, and the experience of the present, we shall be prepared with the ascription of praise—You are good. This is indeed the expression—the confidence—the pleading—of faith. It is the sweet taste of experience—restraining the legality of the conscience, the many hard and dishonorable thoughts of God, and invigorating a lively enjoyment of Him. Indeed 'this is the true and genuine character of God. He is good—He is goodness. Good in Himself—good in His essence—good in the highest degree. All the names of God are comprehended in this one of Good. All the acts of God are nothing else but the effluxes of His goodness distinguished by several names according to the object it is exercised about. When He confers happiness without merit, it is grace. When He bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy. When He bears with provoking rebels, it is patience. When He performs His promise, it is truth. When He commiserates a distressed person, it is pity. When He supplies an indigent person, it is bounty. When He supports an innocent person, it is righteousness. And when He pardons a penitent person, it is mercy. All summed up in this one name—Goodness. None so communicatively good as God. As the notion of God includes goodness, so the notion of goodness includes diffusiveness. Without goodness He would cease to be a Deity; and without diffusiveness He would cease to be good. The being good is necessary to the being God. For goodness is nothing else in the notion of it but a strong inclination to do good, either to find or to make an object, wherein to exercise itself, according to the propensity of its own nature; and it is an inclination of communicating itself, not for its own interest, but for the good of the object it pitches upon. Thus God is good by nature; and His nature is not without activity. He acts consistently with His own nature—You are good, and do good.' (Charnock)
How easily is such an acknowledgment excited towards an earthly friend! Yet who has not daily cause to complain of the coldness of his affections towards his God? It would be a sweet morning's reflection to recollect some of the innumerable instances, in which the goodness of God has been most distinctly marked, to trace them in their peculiar application to our own need; and above all to mark, not only the source from which they come, but the channel through which they flow. A view of covenant love does indeed make the goodness of God to shine with inexpressible brightness "in the face of Jesus Christ;" and often when the heart is conscious of backsliding, does the contemplation of this goodness under the influence of the Spirit, prove the Divinely appointed means of "leading us to repentance." Let us therefore wait on, even when we see nothing. Soon we shall see, where we did not look for it. Soon we shall find goodness unmingled—joy unclouded, unspeakable, eternal.
Meanwhile, though the diversified manifestations—the materials of our happiness, in all around us, be countless as the particles of sand, and the drops of dew; yet without heavenly teaching they only become occasions of our deeper misery and condemnation. It is not enough that the Lord gives—He must teach us His statutes. Divine truths can only be apprehended by Divine teaching. The scholar, who has been longest taught, realizes most his need of this teaching, and is most earnest in seeking it. Indeed, "the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord," yet we may be utterly ignorant of it. The instances of goodness in the shape of a cross, we consider to be the reflection on it. Nothing is goodness in our eyes, that crosses our own inclination. We can hardly bear to hear of the cross, much less to take it up. We talk of goodness, but yield to discontent. We do not profess to dislike trial—only the trial now pressing upon us—any other cross than this; that is, my will and wisdom rather than God's. Is there not, therefore, great need of this prayer for Divine teaching, that we may discern the Lord's mercies so closely crowded together, and make the due improvement of each? Twice before had the Psalmist sent up this prayer and plea. Yet he seems to make the supplication ever new by the freshness and vehemency of his desires. And let me ever make it new by the remembrance of that one display of goodness, which casts every other manifestation into the shade, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son."
This constitutes of itself a complete mirror of infinite and everlasting goodness—the only intelligent display of His goodness—the only manifestation, that prevents from abusing it. What can I say to this—but You are good, and do good? What may I not then expect from You! '"Teach me Your statutes." Teach me the Revelation of Yourself—Teach me the knowledge of Your Son. For "this is life eternal, that I might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."'
"You are good, and do good." Even in affliction God is good, and does good. This is the confession of experience. God is essential goodness in himself, and in every attribute of his nature he is good in the fullest sense of the term; indeed, he has a monopoly of goodness, for there is none good but one, that is God. His acts are according to his nature: from a pure source flow pure streams. God is not latent and inactive goodness; he displays himself by his doings, he is actively beneficent, he does good. How much good he does no tongue can tell! How good he is no heart can conceive! It is well to worship the Lord as the poet here does by describing him. Facts about God are the best praise of God. All the glory we can give to God is to reflect his own glory upon himself. We can say no more good of God than God is and does. We believe in his goodness, and so honor him by our faith; we admire that goodness, and so glorify him by our love; we declare that goodness, and so magnify him by our testimony.
"Teach me your statutes." The same prayer as before, backed with the same argument. He prays, "Lord be good, and do good to me, that I may both be good and do good through your teaching." The man of God was a learner, and delighted to learn: he ascribed this to the goodness of the Lord, and hoped that for the same reason he would be allowed to remain in the school and learn on until he could perfectly practice every lesson. His chosen class-book was the royal statutes; he wanted no other. He knew the sad result of breaking those statutes, and by a painful experience he had been led back to the way of righteousness; and therefore he begged, as the greatest possible instance of the divine goodness, that he might be taught a perfect knowledge of the law, and a complete conformity to it He who mourns that he has not kept the word longs to be taught it; and he who rejoices that by grace he has been taught to keep it, is not less anxious for the like instruction to be continued to him.
In verse 12, which is the fourth verse of Beth, we have much the same sense as in this fourth verse of Teth.