Margin notes: When God says “no” to a good thing


Psalm 84:11–12 (ESV) — 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

One of the mightiest weapons the Believer has against sin and temptation, is the firm conviction that “no good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Now we must be clear here, the text does NOT say, everything which is simply good in and of itself is to be ours. Providence will teach us well that there are many things inherently good, which nevertheless a Believer might find themselves bereft of.

Freedom is something we might consider a universal good. But when the issue of slavery comes up in the New Testament for instance, we find that some Believers were in fact slaves, and that God called them to behave in certain ways in that circumstance. Would we not be right then in saying that in such cases – God had indeed withheld something good from one walking uprightly? Or, might we posit that if a Believer is a slave, that itself indicates they are NOT walking uprightly? We must answer no to both of those inquiries as nakedly stated.

Why? Because our God in His infinite wisdom and unfathomable love, knows what is best for each of us individually in terms of giving us the maximum opportunity to grow in grace and the image of Christ. And when that goal requires that something “good” be withheld, given the usefulness of that withholding for our spiritual, ultimate and eternal good.

He does indeed at times withhold some things which are natively “good” when they might mean some temporary happiness, but would be contrary to eternal and higher joy.

So how does this impact temptation? It defuses sin’s lie, that just because something is “good” in my estimation, or even in general, that it is necessarily the highest good. And it instead shifts my thoughts to the “Lord of hosts” (vs. 12) and the blessedness that comes from trusting Him and His judgment in it. i.e., we can reply to our sin – “I trust my God, that in my case, if I cannot have this specific “good” – there is a higher good He has ordained for me, and He is most loving in denying me the good I want right now, in favor of the better things He has ordained for me.”

That is a conversation we all need to engage in more regularly, especially when sin lies and tells us God is not good, and that the sin we are contemplating is the good we think we deserve.

Trust Him Beloved. For those are truly blessed, who can trust Him with all their desires – and who will not withhold any truly “good” thing, for those who walk uprightly before Him.

Trust Him.

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