“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
What are the attributes of God by which He helps and guides sinners to learn His ways?
My first thought to such a question was that it would be His mercy or grace or forgiving nature. After all, if He comes to me with all of the goodness and righteousness that He possesses, wouldn’t He have to judge me for my sin rather than help me escape it? And isn’t that when He would have to exercise His mercy so that He could still maintain His goodness and righteousness and still rescue me out of my sin?
So, in my mind, I can think that God’s mercy is somehow up against God’s goodness and righteousness. Mercy has to enter the room otherwise God’s goodness and righteousness will ruin me for my sin. Yet this is not the case.
In Psalm 25:7, David asks God not to remember David’s youthful sins but rather to remember him according to God’s steadfast love. Why? For the sake of God’s goodness. Then in verse eight, David says that God is good and upright. How then does God display these attributes? He instructs sinners in His way. In other words, God cares for sinners because God is good and upright.
God’s goodness, righteousness, and mercy are not “opposing” virtues at all. Mercy doesn’t have to rush to the side of God’s goodness and righteousness and ask it to calm down before it wipes out all who are sinful. Rather, the goodness and righteousness of God is the catalyst for His mercy! His goodness and mercy exist in a cause-and-effect relationship. God’s goodness and righteousness tend to His mercy.
How then does He display these? He displays His goodness and righteousness by teaching sinners His ways. Thus, to despise the teaching of the Lord is to despise His goodness and righteousness. To rejoice in the Law of the Lord is to rejoice in them. God is good, and we as His people respond correctly to His goodness when we cling to the Scriptures through which He leads us.
Oh, that we would praise Him, for His goodness and mercy will pursue us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in His presence forever!