What is the good of thy chosen that the Psalmist desires to see? by Jack Kettler
“That I may see the good (bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ) of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” (Psalm 106:5) (highlighting emphasis mine)
“It was probably written by David, --at any rate its first and last two verses are to be found in that sacred song which David delivered to Asaph when he brought up the ark of the Lord (1 Chron. Xvi. 34, 35, 36).” (1)
Other translations render bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ as benefit, prosperity, goodness, pleasure, and gladness of thy chosen or thy elect.
The online Strong’s Lexicon shows the range of meaning of bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ:
Preposition-b | Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 2896: adj 1) good, pleasant, agreeable 1a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses) 1b) pleasant (to the higher nature) 1c) good, excellent (of its kind) 1d) good, rich, valuable in estimation 1e) good, appropriate, becoming 1f) better (comparative) 1g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man's sensuous nature) 1h) good understanding (of man's intellectual nature) 1i) good, kind, benign 1j) good, right (ethical) n m 2) a good thing, benefit, welfare 2a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 2b) good things (collective) 2c) good, benefit 2d) moral good n f 3) welfare, benefit, good things 3a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 3b) good things (collective) 3c) bounty”
In any case, the Psalmist draws attention to the favor of God’s chosen people. To have this favor is a great thing.
The opening verses, 1-4, set up the context to help understand verse 5:
“Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all his praise? Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation.” (Psalm 106:1-4)
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary helps understand the overall context:
“106:1-5 None of our sins or sufferings should prevent our ascribing glory and praise to the Lord. The more unworthy we are, the more is his kindness to be admired. And those who depend on the Redeemer's righteousness will endeavour to copy his example, and by word and deed to show forth his praise. God's people have reason to be cheerful people; and need not envy the children of men their pleasure or pride.” (2)
From Barnes' Notes on the Bible, one learns:
“That I may see the good of thy chosen - Thy chosen people; or, thine elect. That I may possess and enjoy the same favor and happiness which they do. It is implied here that there are special favors conferred on them; or, that happiness is found in the friendship of God which is not to be found elsewhere. It is a characteristic of true piety to desire to make that our own. A truly religious man more desires the happiness which results from being among the "chosen" of God than all that the world can confer.
That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation - The happiness found in the nation that serves thee. True religion - the favor of God - not only confers happiness on the “individual” who possesses it, but on the nation or people where it prevails. It is just as much suited to produce happiness there, and is just as necessary for happiness there, as in the case of an individual.
That I may glory with thine inheritance - That I may share the honor of thy people. The word “inheritance” here is used to denote that which is one's own, and is thus applied to the people of God considered as “his.” The meaning is, that the psalmist desired no other glory, honor, or distinction, than that which pertained to God's people as such. He sought not the “glory” connected with the distinctions of the world; the display of wealth; the triumph of genius, of conquest, of arms - but the “glory” of being a friend of God, and of partaking of that which God confers on his people.” (3)
The Brown-Driver-Briggs entry on chosen is helpful:
“[בָּחִיר] noun masculine chosen, construct בְּחִיר 2 Samuel 21:6 (but We Dr ׳בְּהַר י); suffix בְּחִירָיו 1 Chronicles 16:13; Psalm 89:4; Psalm 105:6; Psalm 105:43; Psalm 106:5; Psalm 106:23; Isa3, Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 65:9,15,22; always the chosen or elect of Yahweh.” (4)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible brings the message of the Psalmist home to the heart of God’s people:
“That I may see the good of thy chosen.... The elect, according to the foreknowledge of God; who are chosen in Christ to holiness and happiness, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth unto salvation by him; the vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, both of Jews and Gentiles. The “good” of those is not any goodness of their own, for there is none in them naturally; they are by nature no better than others, none are good, nor do good, no, not one: but the goodness of God laid up for them, and bestowed on them; the blessings of goodness with which Christ is preparing for them; all the good things secured for them in a well ordered covenant; which they partake of in time, and to eternity. To “see” these is not to have a superficial, notional, knowledge of them, as hypocrites may have; or a distant view of them, as Balaam, and the rich man in hell; but to have an experience of them, possess them, and enjoy them.
That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation; all the nations of the world are the Lord's; but there is a chosen generation, an holy nation, that is peculiarly his; a nation taken out of a nation, nay, taken out of all the nations that are upon earth: and these have a joy peculiar to them, which foreigners know nothing of, and strangers intermeddle not with; a spiritual joy in the Holy Ghost; a rejoicing in Christ Jesus, in his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, and in hope of the glory of God; and such joy is desirable, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
That I may glory with thine inheritance; the same with his chosen people and nation: for the Lord's people is his portion, and the lot of his inheritance; they are chosen for an inheritance, given to Christ as such, with which he is well pleased, esteeming them a goodly heritage; they are his purchased possession, his jewels and peculiar treasure. These “glory” not in themselves, in their strength and wisdom, their riches and righteousness; but in Christ and in his righteousness, and in what he is made unto them. And the psalmist desires to join with them, and glory in what they did, and in no other; and unite with them in giving glory to God and Christ, now and hereafter, for his salvation, and all good things from him.” (5)
If Psalm 106:5 is to be summarized, John Gill, as seen above, perfectly capsulizes the verse.
That I may see the good of thy chosen
That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation;
That I may glory with thine inheritance;
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)
1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 363.
2. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 939.
3. Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p. 1658.
4. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius, Hebrew English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 104.
5. John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 1233-1234.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com