By Tammy Kennington, Crosswalk.com
I halted mid-sentence as I considered the words, “no good thing will he withhold.” One son bears the burden of mental illness while a beloved parent struggles through a second round of chemotherapy. My prayers about each of these situations seem to remain unanswered.
Has the Lord withheld His lovingkindness despite the scripture’s promise? Of course not. His mercies never fail (Lamentations 3:22-23). But if “no good thing will he withhold” reflects the truth, why has God denied some of my prayers? Could “no good thing” pertain to areas unrelated to mental and physical health or financial security?
Where Does the Bible Say 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold'?
Psalm 84 (in the NKJV translation) reads,
For the Lord God is a sun and shield
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
These words are particularly poignant when we consider that either the sons of Korah or David wrote them.
A man who incited a rebellion against Moses, Korah assembled 250 men to rebel against Moses when he distributed duties to the Levitical tribes. Unhappy with his tribe’s allotment, Korah questioned God’s placement of Moses and Aaron. Korah’s revolt led to his death and the destruction of his possessions.
Even though Korah died because of his sin, the Levite’s descendants dedicated their lives to the Lord and served as doorkeepers and Psalmists.
Because of its similarity to Psalm 63, other theologians believe David penned Psalm 84 after his son, Absalom, overthrew the kingdom. If so, consider the position in which David found himself. Bereft of his beloved son and the comforts of home, a deposed and distraught ruler prayed to the Lord—praising the One who would protect him.
Whether authored by the sons of Korah or King David, Psalm 84:11 reflects the Psalmist’s understanding of God’s goodness—highlighting the Father’s care and provision for His children.
What “good things,” though, does the verse address?
What Does the Context Tell Us about 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold'?
Taken out of context, Psalm 84:11 sounds like God will indulge our every wish—behaving like a genie in a bottle or a bearded elf from the North Pole rather than the omniscient God of the universe. Yet when we read the previous verses of Psalm 84, the author describes God as “a sun and shield.” The Hebrew meanings of these words reveal several rich truths.
“Sun,” translated from shemesh, also means battlement—the word recorded in earlier translations of this verse. When we pair this world with “shield,” we begin to understand that God protects and surrounds those who love Him. He gives His people grace and glory, or kabowd, meaning abundance.
The Psalmist identifies heavenly protection, favor, and abundance as several blessings God showers upon His people. These are inferred by the phrase, “no good thing will He withhold.”
We may wonder how suffering continues to thrust itself into the lives of those who trust God when we read a scriptural promise like the one recorded by Psalm 84:11. We cannot deny believers still experience pain and heartache. Like the rest of humanity, Christians remain subject to trials and heartache—a result of the fall of man. But we have the reassurance that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV).
We are saved from death to life by the resurrection power of Jesus and the love of our almighty Father, who claims us as His and preserves our souls for eternal joy in His presence. Beyond the gifts of “every spiritual blessing in heaven,” does Psalm 84:11 support the prosperity gospel?
Is 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold' a Prosperity Gospel Passage?
Some extrapolate “no good thing will He withhold” beyond the spiritual blessings mentioned in the surrounding verses and usurp Psalm 84:11 to support the prosperity gospel. Most of us know the term, but a working definition from Britannica gives us a deeper understanding of the “name it and claim it” approach to faith.
According to the article, “adherents believe that God wants [Christians] to be richly blessed in this life and that physical well-being and material riches are always God’s will for the faithful. Illness and poverty are seen as curses . . . ”
Multiple scriptures, including Matthew 7:11, James 1:17, and Matthew 6:25-34 support the idea that God will attend to all our needs. However, living a blessed life in the first-century church often looked far different from the one promoted by the prosperity gospel.
Luke 2:52 states, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (NKJV). Yet even the Son of God lacked a place to sleep each night. (Matthew 8:20) Paul suffered in prison, endured shipwrecks, and prayed the Lord would heal a “thorn in the flesh”—a type of torment that many scholars believe indicated a physical sickness. God’s response? “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). After Christ’s resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples experienced persecution, and all but John died as martyrs.
While the Father gives the believer good gifts, many who follow Christ will face the same trials and tribulations as Christ, the disciples, and the early church. If and when we do, our response should reflect that of Paul and Peter, who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name after being flogged (Acts 5:40-41).
What Can We Learn from 'No Good Thing Will He Withhold' Today?
The beauty of the words ‘No good thing will He withhold’ reassures us of several truths.
- God’s intentions toward us reflect His love. Scripture details the lengths to which the Father will go to offer His abundant love, grace, and mercy to people—revealing a plan by which the lost might receive salvation as early as Genesis 3:15. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—God’s only son--people can enjoy the gift of eternal life.
- The Lord provides all we need to grow in our faith until we reach spiritual maturity. As noted earlier, “no good thing” indicates the availability of spiritual blessings rather than material prosperity. While all good things come from the Lord, He is more concerned about our eternal security than temporal comfort, as Mark 8:36 noted, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (KJV)
Not “willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), Jesus exists as the gateway to everlasting goodness. Even now, believers can access “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3 NKJV). Paul, who expounds on these blessings, tells us we are:
- heirs, and
- sealed with the Holy Spirit
- Experiencing God’s goodness is exclusive. Notice the last portion of Psalm 84: 11. Only “those who walk uprightly” will enjoy the riches of God’s glory. The apostle Paul affirms in Romans 3-4 that righteousness comes through Jesus alone, but many people disregard, ignore, or deny Christ as Lord.
Our daily needs often distract us from the greatest need of all—salvation. Do you know Christ as Lord and Savior? His nail-scarred hands bear the proof. No good thing will He withhold from you. Will you accept the promise for yourself today?
Photo Credit: © GettyImages/Anastasiia Stiahailo
Tammy Kennington is a writer and speaker familiar with the impact of trauma, chronic illness, and parenting in the hard places. Her heart is to lead women from hardship to hope. You can meet with Tammy at her blog www.tammykennington.com where she’ll send you her e-book, Moving from Pain to Peace-A Journey Toward Hope When the Past Holds You Captive.
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. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.