“O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34: 8). God doesn’t say “look to see,” or “listen to see,” or “touch to see,” or “smell to see.” He uses the most personal, internal sense to describe the risk in finding out just how good God really is. Taste. The Lord is good.
The Bible is one of the most understated books ever written, and it frequently and efficiently uses subtle language to make a point. It speaks of God as “strong.” What an understatement when you consider that He spoke into existence a universe of hundreds of billions of galaxies each containing hundreds of billions of stars! Strong? Certainly. This understatement applies to the Bible’s description of each aspect of God’s nature. In fact, unless you look closely, you may completely miss God’s description of Himself. This is important, because as the Designer of all of life, a full and correct understanding of God is essential to getting life right.
Stephen Charnock was a 17th-century English Puritan and theologian who saw the importance of understanding the nature and character of God. His book Discourses upon the Existence and Attributes of God (published posthumously in 1682) is one of the most exhaustive, profound books ever written on the character of God. A magnificent collection of sermons and discussions, Discourses explores the revealed character of God in Scripture and argues that the attributes of God have a practical weight in the day-to-day life of the Christian. Discourses is a spectacular presentation of Puritan theology and serves as a manifesto of Puritan doctrinal scholarship.
An excellent summary of Charnock’s work is the book A Portrait of God by Daniel Chamberlin. However, we wanted to provide a readable version of Charnock’s entire work. To accomplish this, we are seeking to make the original Discourses available to lay readers in the Boundless God series. We decided to turn each chapter of the larger book into its own booklet, and we chose to lightly edit the original 17th-century text for smoother language, punctuation, and sentence length; in short, make it more accessible. This book is the first installment of that project. We picked Charnock’s chapter on goodness as the first book because of its foundational relevance to understanding God’s other attributes. Since we are making use of another’s work in its entirety— even though Charnock’s work is not subject to copyright laws— we are publishing this via a non-profit foundation, with 100 percent of the profits going toward missions work. It is our prayer that you, the reader, will truly taste and see that God is good.
E. Peterson and D. Kennicutt, editors February 2017