“The Great Goodness”
Having received the revelation given to him by God the Holy Spirit of glorious accomplishment of redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of all God’s elect in him, Isaiah was overwhelmed with astonishment and gratitude, so overwhelmed that he could hardly find words to express himself.
“I will mention.” He does not say, I will declare, or even, I will sing about. He simply says, “I will mention.” The word is really, “remember,” or “call to mind.” Isaiah is saying, “I will mention” to my heart and call you who know my God to remember “the loving kindnesses of the Lord.”
The lovingkindness of the Lord is his pity, favor, goodness, mercy and grace toward his elect. Here the prophet speaks of God’s lovingkindness in the plural, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord,” because his lovingkindness toward us is a multitude. Our salvation flows to us from the infinite fountain of lovingkindness in the heart of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the lovingkindnesses of the triune Jehovah toward us are an incalculable multitude. So liberal is our God and Savior, so bountiful, that he heaps lovingkindnesses upon sinners who deserve nothing but his wrath! So great is his lovingkindness that expressing the remembrance of it is in plurals, because all our thoughts and words are utterly inadequate to express the bounty of our Savior.
“I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord.” — The praises of the Lord in this passage are the attributes, the qualities of his character that set him apart from all his creatures. Specifically, Isaiah is, if I am not mistaken, talking about the praise our God deserves from us because of all his bounteous grace bestowed upon us in Christ, as is indicated in the next line, — “According to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them.”
O, how I love those words, “which he hath bestowed”! Don’t you? That which God bestows upon his people in time, he “hath bestowed” upon us from eternity in Christ. Isaiah’s language here is almost identical to Paul’s language in Ephesians 1:3-7. That which God bestows upon us in time can never be taken away from us, “for the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” Has he bestowed upon us his everlasting love? Then he shall never cease to love us. Has he bestowed upon us his saving grace? Then we shall never lack grace sufficient to bring us to glory. Has he bestowed upon us the redemption that is in Christ Jesus? Then we shall never come into condemnation. Has he bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sin? Then we shall never be charged with sin. Has he bestowed upon us acceptance in the Beloved? Then there can never be a time when we shall be unaccepted.
“According to” — Here are two more words in our text that are thrilling to my soul. Twice in this one sentence Isaiah tells us that all the lovingkindnesses, great goodness, and mercies of our God are things which “he hath bestowed” upon us. And twice he tells us that all the bounteous grace of the triune God “he hath bestowed” upon us is “according to” “his great goodness” and “the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.”
His praise is according to all that he has bestowed, and all that he has bestowed is according to his great goodness, his mercies, and his lovingkindnesses. All the gifts of God’s great, free grace in Christ are bestowed upon chosen, redeemed sinners, not according to any worth, merit, or cause in us, but according to his great goodness, his mercies, and his lovingkindnesses.
There is no worth or merit in us. The best works of righteousness we can produce are but filthy rags before the thrice holy God. All that we receive from our God flows to us freely, without cause, except in his great goodness. All flow to us as a matter of sovereign mercy, pure grace, and free, unmerited love, abundant, boundless, and infinite in Christ Jesus.
Isaiah piles up words to express the lovingkindness of God in his acts of grace and goodness to his people in Christ. Still, they are inadequate. The praises of God’s saints in endless eternity will not adequately express his goodness. Let us remember and make mention of these things continually in his house and to one another, in public and in private. And when we have told all that can be told of the praises of our great God for his great goodness to sinners in Christ, we will confess, “Behold, the half has not been told.”
Having said all that, I want to call to your heart’s memory, as I call to my own, the great goodness of God our Savior. There are three things revealed in our text about the goodness of God.
1. The goodness of God is saving, redeeming goodness. The verses immediately preceding this verse tell us that God’s goodness, which he “hath bestowed”, is bestowed in the accomplishment of redemption by Christ our Savior.
2. The goodness of God is distinguishing goodness. It is here described as “the great goodness toward the house of Israel.” It is the goodness of God bestowed upon us that puts a difference between Egypt and Israel, separating the precious from the vile.
3. And the goodness of God bestowed upon us in Christ is great goodness. Our God’s goodness is spoken of as his “great goodness” repeatedly (Nehemiah 9:25, 35; Psalm 31:19; 145:7; Zechariah 9:17).
As one transported and in a state of spiritual rapture, Isaiah exclaims, “I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel which he hath bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.” Oh, may God the Holy Spirit ever give us grace to call to our minds, and to our hearts’ memory “the great goodness” of our great God and Savior.
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