Afraid to Stray


Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)

Consider two important truths in Psalm 31:19.

1. The goodness of the Lord

There is a peculiar goodness of God. That is, there is not only God’s general goodness that he shows to all people, making his sun rise on the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45), but also a peculiar goodness, as the psalm says, for “those who fear” him.

This goodness is abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts forever. It is all-encompassing. There is only goodness for those who fear him. Everything works together for their good (Romans 8:28). Even their pains are filled with profit according to Romans 5:3–5.

But those who do not fear him receive a temporary goodness. Romans 2:4–5 describe it like this: “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Kindness. Forbearance. Patience. Goodness. But it does not meet with the fear of the Lord, but hardness.

That’s the first truth: the goodness of the Lord.

2. The fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him. Therefore, it expresses itself in taking refuge in God. That’s why two conditions are mentioned in Psalm 31:19 — fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have 1) stored up for those who fear you and 2) worked for those who take refuge in you!”

They seem to be opposites. Fear seems to drive away and taking refuge seems to draw in. But when we see that this fear is a fear of running away — a fear of straying from him — then they work together.

There is a real trembling in the heart of the saints. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean. It is the trembling at the terrible prospect of thinking we don’t need a Father.

So, cherish the goodness of the Lord. Fear straying from him. Flee from every sin and take refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you!”