13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
I’ve been clinging to this scripture recently. David was in a tough spot when he penned this psalm. He’s being attacked by armies and war, with enemies (perhaps even Absalom his son) chasing after him to kill him, and to add insult to injury there are folks talkin’ junk about him (“false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations”). Due to the above it’s likely that he’s hiding out in caves. Life is looking pretty bleak, at best.
That’s what makes verses 13 and 14 stand out so brightly. He is CONFIDENT, first off. That takes real faith; to believe the goodness of God’s character despite rank circumstances. He doesn’t just think he might perhaps just possibly see the goodness of the Lord…NO, he is CONFIDENT that he WILL see the goodness of the Lord.
In the land of the living. That means, “in this life”. Before he dies, even, David is exercising a hopeful confidence of good things to come. Remember, he’s in Ick City with folks trying to kill and/or maim, restrain, dethrone, and defame him. But he’s STILL saying he believes he will see the goodness of the Lord in this life, despite the ick. Therefore, hopeful confidence is practical and applicable to this life, not solely in the life to come for the believer. For that matter, in the life to come, hope and faith will no longer be necessary because we will have already received what we hoped for in the former earthly life. Hope and faith are made for the here and now!
We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
So many days I feel like I just want this earthly life – and thus the suffering that goes with it – to be over. I don’t say that to many people…I mean…it doesn’t go over too well with those who don’t “get it” because they’ve not lived in Ick City for extended periods of time themselves. I put so much hope in the future life that I suppose sometimes I lose contact with THIS world, this life I have to live here and now. (Is this making any sense to anyone but me?) I guess you could say I’m actively “wishing my life away”. I do still do what I believe God is calling me to do, but it’s not with the sure hope that I will really come face-to-face with the GOODNESS of the Lord in this daily-grind life. I’ve so fully separated the two parts of my life, at times, that I don’t allow myself the blessings of expectant hope and joy which were intended for TODAY.
The love of the Lord – His faithful goodness – endures forever for those whom He has chosen and called according to His purposes (Romans 8). It is His love that saves us. And it is our love for Him (inspired fully by Him) which allows us to bear all things (with patience as we wait), believe and hope all things (that we will see His goodness in this life and the next), and endure all things (all the ick). But it is because faith and hope are primarily necessary in this life rather than the next, and it is His love which will continue without waning throughout all eternity, that love is the greatest of the three.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8a, 13
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The goodness of the Lord. David places real value in the Lord’s goodness. It’s motivating him to stay connected both with God and with the world around him, empowering him to wait patiently for the Lord’s direction (waiting can be the hardest part, can’t it?), and encouraging him so he doesn’t lose heart or despair.
David is essentially saying here, “There is something SO GOOD about God that I know I’m going to see and experience personally while I’m living this (very difficult!!) earthly life that I’m captivated by it, I want it, I will eagerly wait for it as long as necessary because it is so good that it makes even this life worth living.”
1 Corinthians 13:12
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So even while David knew he would not clearly see the FULLNESS of the goodness of God until he was with God in heaven, seeing Him face to face, he didn’t count the goodness of God to be revealed to him in less than its entire fullness during this limited life to be piddly or by any means insignificant.
Waiting. Ahhh…do we really have to go there? Yep. I don’t always know why God makes me wait to see deeper, clearer glimpses of His goodness. Perhaps it’s just that I’m extra dense and missing his revelations frequently. Or perhaps He cannot reveal so much to me without providing me another “thorn in the flesh” as He did with Paul, to keep Paul from becoming conceited.
2 Corinthians 12:7
7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
In our sinful state, I suspect we can only handle so much of the revelation of God’s goodness anyways, before we spontaneously combust in His presence (or something like that).
18Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”
5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for thousands,a forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
In CS Lewis’ book titled “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” one of the children asks whether Aslan, a lion whose character is a symbol of Christ, is safe.
‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.
‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’
So in a sense, being in the presence of God could not be any safer because He guarantees our security in Him, our only true refuge. And yet it’s equally true that being in His presence is dreadful because we have a new appreciation of His holiness and our utter unworthiness.
How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.
Paul says in Romans 8:15 “…if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” And so, we do precisely that! In love, we “endure all things” including the longing to see the fullness of God’s goodness as “we ourselves…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”. We strengthen our souls in God and take up our confidence in the revelation of His goodness which will be so good it’s worth the wait and even sticking around in this life until the Lord brings us home.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
Pray with me that God will help me respond rightly to the revelations of His goodness which He has thus far given me, allowing me to further grasp, by faith, His desire to show His goodness in such a way that I will have more joy in this life.