Psalm 31:19 How great is Your goodness that You have stored up for those who fear You, and accomplished in the sight of everyone.
“Great” = “rab” = abundant, in quality, size, age, number or rank
“Goodness” = “good, as in the widest sense, superlatively concrete: best.”
“stored up” = to hide, hoard or reserve, to lurk.
This verse intrigues me and always has. It’s a verse I’ve written in countless notes to struggling friends and it has sustained me through many long, dark nights. Working to the roots of it only intensifies and personalizes its meaning for me.
I think I’ve spent so much of my life fighting for my right to “good”. I want good things, fun things, happy things, successful things. I want them and I often think that I can live in a way that makes me even deserve them so it confounds me when it seems that good won’t come. And the thing about good things is that I can pretty clearly identify and quantify them. We all can. We can see that a promotion at work is good or a clean diagnosis is good or receiving an inheritance and paying all the bills…really good. But this verse has two words that blow the doors off my understanding, my expectations and the way that I pray for good.
Glance back up at the Hebrew definition for “goodness” at the top. It turns out that God is not a storer up of “good”. He’s a storer up of BEST. Apparently, His good is superlatively better than my good. What makes it better than my good? Well, a look at the definition of “great” tells us that it’s rab, which means it’s abundant in quality, size, age, number or rank. Ha! How rad is rab? His best outranks, outweighs and outshines my good every time.
Now, if His goodness is so abundant and big and beautiful – what keeps me from longing and believing for it? Well, it seems that it’s maybe a bit hard to see from my angle here on earth. It’s temporarily hidden; and not just hidden for safekeeping, but stored and protected for safe timing. I love that reference to “age” in the definition of rab. At first I didn’t love it. I thought the rest of those words made sense – abundant in quality (yes!), quantity (woo!), rank (power!) and age (huh?!). But now it’s making sense to me. The bestness of God is stored up for me and is unveiled and delivered at just the right age of maturity. A baby delivered too soon is in danger of dying too soon. A baby delivered at the point of maturity, however, is very likely to grow into a tumbling toddler, a licensed driver, a college graduate and a productive adult. Part of what makes God’s goodness better than mine is that He holds it until I am mature enough to receive and keep and multiply it into something great for His kingdom and my world.
Can you imagine how it would change our prayer lives and our fear issues if we could always clearly see God’s unseen-but-super-abundant BEST, lurking around the edges of our humdrum, longing-for-a-pay-raise lives? It helps me understand this season in my life so much more clearly. I see that while it seems (and legitimately is) so hard, and I have offered God a million “good” ideas…this temporary trial is going to give way to the stored-up greatness of God. I can feel it deep in my bones. He has something superlatively beautiful gestating right now and when the time comes for it to be revealed: life. Beautiful, eternal life.
Behold: A storage shed, bursting at the seams with good and perfect gifts. And your name is on the door. Pretty cool, huh?
Believing for best,