What Does God Mean When He Says No Good Thing Will He Withhold?
The statement, "no good thing will he withhold" comes from the Psalms.
We love to sing about the goodness of God, and rightfully so because he is a good God. As a loving father, he is not only good, but he displays his goodness towards us. God declares in Scripture that he will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. This should serve as reassurance of his commitment to be faithful to you.
However, this truth is far from a blank check for everything you desire, as some may have you believe. This deeper truth gives us confidence, knowing that God will provide everything that is genuinely good for His children. If you are his child, that includes you. This promise reminds us to have faith in God's wisdom, timing, and goodness, even when things don't go as planned.
What Are the Good Things in the 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold' Passage?
Many people read verses like this and immediately think of material possessions. I find it strange how we are so quick to tie God's goodness to physical blessings. When you get the house, the job, the promotion, or some other material blessing, we love to declare, "God is good!" at that moment. While that statement is true, there is a danger in connecting his goodness to material things only. When we do that, we create a false comparison.
If God is good when I get the blessing, does that mean he is not good when I don't? My friend, God is good if you get hired or if you get fired. He is good when you get the promotion and when you don't. He is good when your bank account is heavy and when it is paper thin. For this reason, the good things God will not withhold cannot simply be material things. This truth must go deeper than that.
When you pull back the curtain and look closely at this passage, you see the heart of the writer. In these verses, he celebrates the presence of God. Listen to some statements the writer makes.
"How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (Psalm 84:1-2)
In these words, we see a person longing for God's presence above everything else. Nothing else matters more than being in God's dwelling place. The writer goes on to say things like these.
"Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you." (Psalm 84:4)
"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." (Psalm 84:10)
This writer is hungering and thirsting for God. He longs to be with God and just sit at his feet, offering praise and worship to the Lord. This is the heart the psalmist brings to this passage. He wants God first and God most.
When God sees that kind of heart, then the words of the psalmist make sense. God will withhold no good thing from him. The longing of his heart, which is God himself, will not be denied. God will bring his presence and everything else that comes with it. He will bring his peace, joy, strength, wisdom, encouragement, purpose . . . and, most of all, himself.
Limiting no good thing to material things cheapens this passage. The best things God has for you cannot be bought or paid for. They are not things that are here today and gone tomorrow. They are blessings that last regardless of what happens in life.
Are There Conditions to the 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold' Passage?
The primary condition in this verse is that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Again, this verse speaks to the one who desires to be in close relationship and fellowship with the Lord.
To walk uprightly means to walk in obedience before the Lord, but let me give you a different way of looking at it. To walk uprightly means you care about what God thinks of you. It reminds me of when Jesus was baptized, and God said, "This is my son with whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). The person walking uprightly is not concerned about the house or car. This person is concerned about living a life pleasing to God. By the way, when you stop caring so much about material blessings, you may discover God gives them to you. But even if he doesn't, it makes no difference. That is not your primary pursuit, anyway.
How Do We Reconcile 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold' with Suffering?
You can't include suffering in that equation if you think of the good things as material blessings or positive experiences. However, when God is your pursuit and the good thing you desire is his presence and purpose, you can handle it when suffering comes. Your eyes are on the bigger prize.
In the book of Acts, the first disciples had a unique position on suffering. Their position is so foreign to how we tend to see it today. Notice how two apostles reacted after being flogged for sharing the good news:
"They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah." (Acts 5:40-42)
How is it possible that these men could be imprisoned and beaten for preaching the gospel and yet walk away rejoicing? It's because they understood the bigger picture.
We have gotten our eyes off what matters most for far too long. We have limited the good things of God to things we can see, positions we can hold, and how much stuff we can accumulate. Very few in today's American or Western churches would rejoice for being counted worthy of suffering. Maybe it's because our hearts are not like the psalmist's heart. We don't long for God. We don't see his presence as a good thing he will not withhold. We want the good things to be tangible possessions in our hands so the entire world can see how "blessed" we are.
For the record, I am not against material blessings. If you have them, that is wonderful. Let's just remember that the good things God wants to give you are far beyond that.
A Final Thought on the Good Things that God Will Not Withhold
Maybe it's time we all examine what is in our hearts today. Are we after God or the "good things" he can offer? There is an old saying: you will never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. Let today be a day of seeking God; let the good thing be him and his presence. When his presence becomes enough, he becomes what satisfies you. It won't even matter whether the material things come or not.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. We hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in your life today.