Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
–Psalm 23:6 ESV
Sadie raced past us, her Ridgeback hair standing on end all the way down her back. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chase for our dog. She took after the doe at full speed. We groaned, then began calling her to stop, to come back. But we knew it was useless. Sadie would have to wear herself out before she would quit. Our only hope was that she wouldn’t get kicked before the chase ended.
After several minutes of following her sharp barks, we found her. She had cornered the deer near the marsh, and it had nowhere to go. The triumphant Sadie had trapped her prize! She wagged her tail happily while keeping one eye on the deer. I’m certain that she figured we would take that deer home with us!
That chase reminds me of what David describes in the last couplet of Psalm 23. Imagine two sheepdogs named Goodness and Mercy. They’re following us; literally, chasing us down. They’re agile, strong, and obedient to their Master’s commands. (That’s where the similarity with our Sadie ends!) Their job is to run after us every day of our lives, without exception. Do you sense the deep and settled joy in their mission? God delights in pursuing us with goodness and mercy.
Psalm 119:68 (NET) boldly describes God: “You are good and you do good.” God’s goodness expresses itself in kind benevolence—our unmerited, unending source of security and joy. Yet God’s kind benevolence isn’t sappy or sentimental. It is married to steadfast love (“mercy”) so potent that it can resuscitate the dead. This kind of pure goodness and mercy pursue our souls in order to enliven us, free us, reshape us. If we submit to them, we receive benefits unavailable any other way: we share God’s holiness and enjoy the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).
As I type this, I’m looking for words to comfort my mom whose dear friend and neighbor just fell and hit her head hard on a concrete garage floor. Where are God’s goodness and mercy now? Chasing down, as always. Through the hands of the emergency workers, helping to stabilize vital signs. Through the doctors who are setting up tests at the hospital. In the urgent prayers of those who love this woman. In the Spirit’s presence offering comfort, peace, and love from the Father. In the interceding prayers of Jesus, who cares with a compassionate, personal understanding of physical pain and grief.
“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand…” (Psalm 31:14-15). We are secure with Yahweh, our Good Shepherd, all the days of our life…and beyond. His goodness and mercy will pursue us forever.
ACTION: Have you noticed evidence of God’s goodness and mercy today? this week? Do you sense an openness to their pure work? In what ways does their pursuit in your life bring you security? When you think about life ahead in eternity, what do you look forward to?
Enjoy the beauty and truth of Psalm 23 as sung by Shane & Shane, with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra.