Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People? – 3

The Center of God’s Goodness. Asaph wrote, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (Ps. 73:1, ESV). God is good to Israel. But does this mean that He is good to everyone in Israel? Yes and no. Yes, because God chose Israel as his covenant nation. No, because Asaph qualifies it by writing, “to those who are pure in heart.” The adjective, “pure,” is from bar, “chosen, pure, clear, sincere, empty.”[1]

David used the same word, bar, in Ps. 24:3-4, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who hath clean hands and a pure heart, Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, Nor sworn deceitfully” (KJV). David wrote this on the occasion of the moving of the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:1-23). To ascend the hill of the LORD is to worship Him. To worship Him requires clean hands and a pure heart.

What is a pure heart here? Negatively, it is the heart that is not committed to “vanity.” Vanity here is from shaw, “falsehood” (Job 31:5; Ps. 12:2); “lying, sin, iniquity” (Job 11:11; Is. 5:18).[2] It is a heart that has no deceit. “Deceitfully” here is from mirmah, “fraud, falsehood, guile, treachery” (Gen. 27:35; 34:13; Ps. 10:7).[3]

Many years ago, I heard Pastor Elbern Latorilla tell about a man who was into the business of dying—dying colors.  He had a signboard outside his shop, which reads, “I dye to live. I live to dye. The more I dye, the more I live. The more I live, the more I dye.”

That is how you maintain a pure heart—you die to any falsehood that pollutes your heart. “Pure” describes people who are separated unto God, who are sincere in their worship and empty of sin and guilt. God is good only to those who have put away all willful sinning and all impurities in their hearts.[4] God is good only to those who strive to keep their heart pure and free from falsehood. In other words, God is good only to those who strive after holiness. Conversely, I submit that God is not good to those Christians who go to church on Sunday; and then live a worldly, sinful life from Monday to Saturday. God is good only to the pure in heart.

“Heart,” here is from lebab, which means, in Hebraic thought, “Inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.”[5] God is not good to everyone, but only to the pure in heart. Do you want to experience the goodness of God in your life? Then purify your heart! Throw away all willful sinning and impurities in your heart! “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2, NASB). Keep your heart pure in the Lord. And you will see the goodness of God!

How did Asaph arrive at this conclusion?


[1] Baker, Complete Word Study.

[2] Baker, Complete Word Study.

[3] Baker, Complete Word Study.

[4] Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, PC Study Bible CD-Rom.

[5] BDB, s. v. lebab.

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