Give Thanks to Yhwh for He Is Good . . .
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever"
— Psalm 107:1
This study centers on the above Scriptural phrase, which is quoted six times in the Old Testament.
"Thanks" as it concerns the portion of Scripture we are studying expresses the idea of understanding God's loyal covenant love towards us. We reciprocate by expressing back thanks with our mouths and hands.
This lesson will look at the Hebrew word for "good" as it concerns God's goodness and our responsibility to distinguish it so.
It's a Matter of Distinguishing
In the beginning, when God created, He declared that what He had made was "tov" good.
Immediately after calling forth "Light" and declaring it "good," God separates light from dark and distinguishes the two. We will look later at how this word "good" has to do with distinguishing.
There was also a tree in the Garden with the title "The knowing of good (tov) and evil" . . . again, we see the contrast and comparison with the tree.
I believe that this tree had much more to do with Adam and Eve's desires than simply acquiring forbidden intellectual information "knowing good and evil."
The Hebrew word for "know" sounds identical to the "yada" in the Hebrew word for "thanks." "Yada" as in "know," however, has a one letter difference. The final letter of the Hebrew word for "thanks" (yada) is "hey." It is represented by an image of a window indicating a revelation. The Hebrew word "know" (yada) ends with the Hebrew letter "ayin," which is a picture of an eye meaning to see, to know, or perceive.
Eve's hand ("yod"), the first letter of both of the words "yada," symbolizes action. She will now do what she has perceived with her eyes rather than obey the revelation she received. She has fixed her eyes and perceptions upon the one thing she was instructed not to have.
The definition in Gesenius' Lexicon for "know" is to perceive, get acquainted with, see with your eyes, discover, to know by experience, to become intimate with. We can see that according to this definition. Eve was interested in more than just "knowing" evil. She expressed her interest in discovering it and experiencing it.
. . . the woman (Eve) "saw" that the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eye and desirable to make one wise.
— Genesis 3:6
The Hebrew word for "wise" (shakai) in this verse is not the more familiar word used throughout the rest of Scripture for "wise." "Shakal" means to look at, behold, desire, turn the mind towards, gain understanding, intelligence, prosperity, success, and happiness. We see here that Eve was looking for much more than intellectual stimulation. She was expecting that knowing good and evil would supply her with all of the above. She already saw what "good" was, considering that all that God had made was good.
Here is an example of how "shakal" translates "to succeed."
Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and follow them, so that you will succeed (shakal) in everything you do.
— Deuteronomy 29:9 (HCSB)
The following verses in Hosea, about Gomer, Hosea's unfaithful wife, depicts the adulterous element to Eve's desire.
. . . For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen,My oil and my drink.’
— Hosea 2:5b
. . . For she did not know That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold—Which they prepared for Baal.
— Hosea 2:8
When we look at this way, it appears to me to be something more than tasting fruit going on. It seems to be an illicit affair with evil itself. The issue of God's goodness at this event was brought into question. It doubted His goodness that led Eve to her demise. Her decision to become intimate with evil caused her to become like the evil from which she partook. What we become intimate with, we become like.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths.Those who make them are like them; So iseveryone who trusts in them.
— Psalm 135:15-18
Our "god's" may not be human-made statues of silver and gold. They may simply be fantasies we have carved in the imaginations of our minds that seem good to us to meet our needs. We fantasize about the things, people, or positions that we believe will redeem us from our current miseries. But apart from the one and only true God, they are nothing. They are empty. The Hebrew word for "idol" means vain, empty, nothing, and that is what we become when we worship them.
We become what we worship. And we worship and become intimate with what we perceive as good for us.
The Hebrew word pictograph for "good" adds some additional insights.
Hebrew Word Study on Good "Tov"
"Tet" is the first letter of the Hebrew word for "good" and is a picture of a coiled snake. When looking at this letter, it is hard to associate a snake with something good, especially considering it was the serpent that led Eve away from good. It will be the distinguishing aspect of a snake that we will study.
When a snake sticks out its tongue, it is tasting the environment around it. A simple flick of its tongue displays that it is sensing chemical particles in the air. The air it tastes is analyzed by a receptor in the roof of its mouth to determine what might be "good" for food or potential enemy. This behavior is also used as a courting ritual. Once the data is analyzed, the snake will then act upon the input it receives.1
From this description, we see that "yet" carries with it the concept of collecting data through our senses, analyzing it, and ultimately acting upon it. This analyzation can be for good or evil.
"Vav," the second letter in the Hebrew word for "good," is a picture of a nail and communicates the idea of connecting or securing things.
"Bet," the final letter in this word study, is a picture of a house or dwelling. It speaks of what is on the inside.
If we pull all these concepts together, we can see that good is something we can taste, see, and distinguish connected to what is on the inside. What we taste becomes connected to what is on the inside of us. Our brains make connections and associations with what we distinguish as good.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
— Psalm 34:8
The incredibly sad part about this story is that they already had everything they needed or could want. Life was "good." They were entitled to eat of every tree in the garden except the one. They were already like God. He had given them dominion over everything. By choosing to focus on the one thing they couldn't have, they became blind to what they already had and blind to what was good.
By listening to the serpent, they judged what was considered "good" based upon a liar and deceiver's input, who convinced them that God was not good. It implied that God was withholding what was good from them. They agreed with the serpent by acting upon it. They chose to taste and see if evil was good and lost their eternal soul.
The Latin root for the word "deceive" is "ceive," meaning to take or accept. The prefix "de" means to remove or subtract. Evil's Modus Operandi is to steal from us what we have already been given.
That is how it is with us. We become so focused on the one thing we can't have, and we become convinced that the one thing we can't have holds the key to our success or happiness. Sin and addiction are founded on this faulty premise. We are in grave spiritual danger when we determine and judge that the sin we may want is good. Because ultimately, in that judgment, we declare that God is bad, like it or not, and we become subjects of the one who lies about what is good.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
— Isaiah 5:20
I believe that God has made dark and light, good and evil clear and distinguishable, and I believe He asks us to make a distinction between the two and make a conscientious purposeful conclusion about Him.
The tree was about knowing both good and evil, and they had deluded themselves into thinking that they could live with one foot in both domains. Good belongs to God, and evil belongs to the evil one.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
— I Corinthians 10:21
I think this was the grave mistake of Adam and Eve, along with the rest of us, to believe that we could have it both ways, not realizing it isn't about the things we run after. It's about who we run after.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
— Galations 6:7-8
Here again, God distinguishes one thing from another. We will never get good from evil. Even Christians at times have the mistaken belief that somehow good will come from that which is forbidden. I believe He can make good from the not so good things in our life, but I think to consciously choose what is prohibited and expect the blessing is ludicrous and bordering on insane on our part.
And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
— Joshua 24:15
In declaring that "He is good," He is asking us to make a distinction and choose. It was the first decision in that garden of whom they would serve. He grants us this same opportunity as individuals.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
— Deuteronomy 30:15
It's as clear as night and day. God is calling every one of us to make a distinction and draw the line about whom we will serve. (Joshua 24:15) He invites us to taste the "All-Sufficient" One El Shaddai, who is truly GOOD! He will not share our affections with evil.
When we partake of evil, we remain on the outside of His will and His covenant. To be outside of His covenant is to be apart from where all of His goodness dwells.
In closing, the Word of God (Yeshua—Rescuer) is the tree of Life. (John 6:68) When we analyze the data of our senses and human logic alone, we are susceptible to deception. May we cling to Him alone who has the Words of Life.
Declare and throw it out there. God is good!!! Let us all dispel the biggest lie in the universe and the implications that He is not, through our experience and testimony. Let us turn our loyalty to our relationship with Him and Him alone.
Oh Taste and See ~ Misty Edwards
© 2010 Tamarajo