No Good Thing Does He Withhold

So at this moment in our service, we have what we call an exhortation. And the purpose of these exhortations is to remind us of our need to confess our sins, and then lead us into a time of corporate and individual confession.

And for this morning’s exhortation, let’s look at the last few verses of Psalm 84. Psalm 84:10 goes,

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

And if you were around church or Christian worship events in the late 90’s and early 2000’s you have probably heard that line.

But Psalm 84 continues,

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tent of wickedness.

And the psalmist is saying that he just wants to be near God. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, what role he’s given, he just wants to be near God. God is that desirable. Now why?

Psalm 84 continues in verse 11, and this part is less common,

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.

And the reason that you’ve probably never heard this in the songs we sing is because it is too hard. God does not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly.

This is a hard verse not because it seems so unbelievable, at least not right away. It’s the Bible, so every Christian knows that we just can’t write it off. God’s word is truth and it says here, “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” So we know we have to receive this. But it is a hard verse, I think, because it can feel so isolating. See, there is enough good out there for us to believe that God gives good. The difficultly is feeling like the good is for everyone else but me, to feel like this truth is operative, but that I am excluded.

No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly, yeah except me. Except me!

When the verse mentions those who “walk uprightly,” in the Psalms that is the language for the one who trusts God, those who are saved into relationship with him. Pastor David will talk more about this in his sermon, that the righteous person is the person who lives by faith. It’s not the one who keep all the rules and think that God owes them, but the one who rests in God. And that, in one sense, can even make this verse more difficult. If God’s goodness were up to us, then we just need to work harder for whatever we want. That’s not how it works, though. It’s all level ground. By faith, we’re righteous all the same, and that means that the goodness that God gives is on him, not us. So then why, God, why give it there and not here?

The short answer is that I don’t know. But I think there is an image here that could help. The psalmist calls God a sun and shield. Which means, as a sun he is beaming forth stuff. And then as shield, he is keeping back stuff.

So that must mean that he gives us all the good stuff, and keeps back all the bad stuff. But no. That is not what it says.

He is giving to us, and he is keeping from us. And sometimes he gives us hard stuff, and keeps back good stuff. And it makes no sense from our perspective. We don’t get it. But . . .

No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Which has to mean that whatever he gives or whatever he keeps, whenever he is a sun and whenever he is a shield, he is doing both for our ultimate good. What we most need is not all sunshine, it’s not us getting what we want. What we most need is the faith and hope to know that whatever is beaming forth or is kept back is for our good. And that is the Holy Spirit’s work. So let’s pray.

Prayer of Confession

Father, we confess that there is so much we don’t know — why you give this, why you keep that — so many times we don’t get it. And we ask that you would forgive us. Forgive us for how our hearts grow cold because of those things we don’t know. Forgive us for our how we begrudge the smallness of our perspective, and resent you for our doubts. Forgive us for thinking that you are against us because we don’t like the kind of sun you are, or the kind of shield you’ve been. Forgive us for thinking you have ignored us, when that very thought means we have ignored you — you who have shown us your love, not by sunshine all the time, but by sending Jesus to die in our place and be raised from the dead for our salvation.

You know our hearts. Search us, now, O God, and see the back-alleys of bitterness in our hearts, see all of us, and have mercy on us. All of us. Have mercy on all of us, even now as we confess these sins and others to you.

Assurance of Pardon

Church, because Jesus loves you, because he died for you and was raised for you, and because you have been united to him by faith and you’ve now confessed your sins . . .

By the authority of Jesus Christ, and as a minister of his gospel, I therefore declare to you his entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Congregation:

Thanks be to God!