Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
Is God worth all the glory and praise? In short, yes! But why? These few short verses give us a snippet of his character which is “good and upright.” Maybe some of us would consider ourselves good, but to call ourselves upright seems a bit like wishful thinking. When we study the law of the Lord, we can see we fall short not only in our actions but in our hearts, and miserably so. God is no such thing. He has always been and will always be good and upright in everything. When we read the Bible, we see that it depicts many human failings but as a whole, the entire book is dedicated to chronicling God’s goodness and righteousness. His unchanging, steadfast commitment to righteousness, in contrast to our fickle hearts, is highlighted all the more.
Keeping his character at the forefront of our minds, we come across the word, “therefore” which shows the relationship between action and response. It helps us understand the motive behind the response and points back to the previous statement as its foundation for the next. It exhorts us to remember who God is as we keep reading. When we read that he instructs, leads, and teaches, we know that it is not just because of our doing but a direct response out of God’s character. It does not say that because of his good and upright character, he runs, he fears, he rejects us. It is because of his character that he does what he does.
I fall short daily of graciously instructing, leading, and teaching my children. Many times, I fail to communicate my expectations and other times I live in a fantasy land, laying out expectations that far exceed what my children are capable of. Similarly, in my first quarter of college, I had a professor quite unsympathetic to the learning process. In addition to assigning and grading material before he taught it, he gave failing grades on those assignments for everything below a B. In both scenarios, instruction, leading, and teaching are sorely lacking. And coupled with a lack of compassion, it is a recipe for failure.
Our God graciously instructs us, shapes our hearts to be humble, then leads and teaches. He does not refuse to instruct then expect the results of having done so. He does not leave us hopelessly where we are. These statements of instruction, leading, and teaching are active statements made by a God who understands, who has made the “paths of the Lord” and guides us along that path. He is intimately acquainted with us and our sin, unafraid to press in to the hard places. He draws near to us in relationship and initiates, sustains, and fulfills a covenant with us. He upholds both our end and his, while he does the good work in us. His goodness does not keep him from us but compels him to draw near to us as we draw near to him. Yes, he is worthy of all of the praise and glory forevermore.
Heavenly Father, you came to us when we could not draw near to you. In your good and upright character, you don’t just give us the tools. You intimately instruct, guide, and teach us in your ways. Make our hearts humble to recognize the glory of who you are, giving you every ounce of glory that is due to you. Amen.