“God is great, God is good let us thank him for our food.” A prayer voiced by many young voices with profound theological implications for those who believe that it is true. Implicit in these truths are God’s sovereignty and his loving kindness, his transcendence and his immanence, his might and his absolute goodness. As God’s people gather for weekly worship, it is critical that these truths be presented because it is the marriage of God’s greatness and goodness that support the faith of every Christian and power biblical worship.
Greatness is one of the most fundamental traits that anyone would attribute to the object of their worship. Fundamental to worship, Christian or not, is the idea that the object of worship is greater than the one who is worshiping. Therefore, if we worship money, we essentially say that money is greater than I am, and thereby we elevate money to a certain status. A status that is supreme over areas of life. We get stressed out about it. We fight over it. We think about it constantly because of our misplaced love. These things lead us to one final question: If the greater object fails, what happens to me, the lesser object?
As worshipers of God, we are freed form these fears since God is truly the greatest being. The prophet Jeremiah affirms that the Lord is great writing, “There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is Your name in might (Jer 10:6).” God has no rivals in greatness. He is alone! The psalmist also affirms the Lord’s exclusive supremacy over all other objects of worship, “For great is the Lord and greatly to be praise; He is to be feared above all other gods (Ps 96:4).” God is not only great; he is the greatest. He is feared above all other gods. He alone is worthy of worship because there is nothing that supersedes his greatness, so he is worshiped because he is intrinsically worthy of it based on his greatness.
But God’s greatness is void of any hope if it is isolated to itself. If there is nothing to govern his greatness, then there are no parameters to which he is bound. Therefore, he could be great in evilness as well as holiness. A God completely sovereign with no care, love, or goodness is a scary thing indeed. But God has told us in the Scriptures and demonstrated over history that intrinsic to his nature is not only greatness but also goodness.
While God is good to the world through a common grace, he is good to those who believe the Gospel in a special and specific way. The Psalmist writes, “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me (Ps 116:12)?” What kinds of deeds has the Lord done that the Psalmist would assign a ‘good’ value to? The answer is that he has “delivered my soul from death (Ps 116:8).” It is the redemptive deeds of God that the Psalmist has in mind as he remembers the goodness of the Lord. It is this goodness that leads us to worship him not under compulsion or obligation, but with affection and love. When we consider his redemptive goodness our hearts are moved to worship him because of the affection we have for him – we love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Understanding God as both great and good gives us the freedom to look at every circumstance as good from an eternal perspective and worship God not in spite of our circumstances, but because of them. This doesn’t mean that we always experience good things, or that we can’t morn in times of sorrow. In those moments; however, we can say with Paul, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17).” God is great in his sovereignty and good in his salvation, so let’s worship with a freedom that only a Christian can know. God is great and God is good; let us thank Him for more than food.
Andrew is the Associate Pastor of Worship and Fine Arts at Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah, GA. He has served as an Instructor of Worship and Church Music at Boyce College of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has written blogs for Worship Leader magazine and Integrity Music. He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Molly and Matthew.